Posts Tagged ‘user training’

Tech Frustration

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, failures of communication devices are quite common. Over the past year, among more than 2,000 adults surveyed:

•    44% of home Internet users experienced at least one connection failure;
•    39% of computer users experienced at least one hardware failure;
•    29% of cell phone users experienced at least one failure of their phones;
•    26% of those who use Blackberries, Palm Pilots or other personal digital assistants reported at least one device failure; and
•    15% of those who use iPods or MP3 players experienced at least one incident in which the device did not work properly.

Individual consumers were selected for polling in this particular survey, but it is reasonable to assume that a survey of small business owners would yield similar results. Consumers who use the Internet, computers, cell phones and other devices may report frustration with periodic failures of equipment, but for small businesses, the consequences of equipment failure are more serious. Mitigate your risk as part of your overall disaster planning:

•    Make sure that you have service level guarantees and appropriate support for your equipment purchases.
•    Train your users in the proper use of equipment. The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project also reported that 48% of adults who use the Internet or a cell phone need assistance in setting up and using new devices. This calls for an investment in proper installation and use.
•    Finally, build in redundancy to cope with the device failures that will inevitably happen. In Prepare for the Worst, Plan for the Best: Disaster Preparedness and Recovery for Small Businesses (John Wiley & Sons Inc., second edition, 2008), I recommend, for example, that you keep spare hardware in your inventory to immediately replace failed equipment.

“Tim the IT Guy” had an interesting take on the reported need for assistance in setting up computers and cell phones: fire the IT support team and hire only employees who are tech-savvy.  Or you could do as I do and invest in training upfront as IT personnel are too expensive to be used for desk-side hand-holding.