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What TCO Studies Reveal

TCO studies of PCs, PDAs, and other end-user–oriented computing platforms have identified several key, hidden, and oftentimes un-budgeted costs due to the following phenomena:

  • Fiddle factor. Users often spend excessive time changing minor look-and-feel items on their systems—time that could instead be spent performing productive work. Examples include changing how the Windows desktop looks (color, size, icons, screensavers), installing applets or utilities (pop-up messages, animated cursors, desktop accessories), and trying out different fonts or lettering styles in documents. These activities distract users from the more important task of ensuring quality content in their work.

  • Peer support and self-help phenomena. When end users encounter problems, they rarely seek IT help. They either try to solve the problem on their own or ask colleagues to assist, taking themselves and their coworkers away from primary job responsibilities. Not only that; as users try to gain as much computer expertise as possible, they often neglect the skills they need in their line of work. Most of their computer skill is learned informally, by time-consuming experimentation that often causes even more complex problems.

  • User-introduced problems. Often, users themselves cause unnecessary downtime and lost productivity through activities such as these:

    • Deleting critical system files by accident or experimentation.

    • Changing parameters in the Windows system registry, control panel, and other configuration files.

    • Installing new software that causes system instabilities, security exposures, or counterproductive activities (for example, utilities or games).

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