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End-user computing (EUC) is a term that is used to describe the act of utilizing computer hardware and software once it is designed and made available to business or individual consumers. The term has specifically to do with those who are not involved in the development of the products under consideration, but do make use of them once they are installed on a system. People who engage in end-user computing actively use the finished product, but are usually not involved in the process of designing, programming, servicing, or installing the hardware or software involved.
In a business setting, end-user computing is conducted by those who use computers to manage day-to-day work tasks. Users such as data entry clerks, administrative assistants, and even managers and executives who use desktop, laptop, and handheld devices to manage tasks such as communications via email or drafting documents are all considered end-users. Typically, this group relies on others in the company structure to select the software programs used by the company, handle the installation, and even oversee the security protocols employed with each of those programs.
Individuals using home or personal computers also engage in end-user computing. While they may install software on their systems, these users usually have nothing to do with actually writing the code for the programs or managing other tasks that are the province of computer specialists or professionals. For example, when an individual user writes and sends an email from a specific email client or Internet-based program, he or she is engaging in end-user computing.
It is important to note that end-user computing does not mean that the users cannot create applications using the software that has already been designed and installed. Frequently, end users do have certain privileges or rights that make it possible to adapt or customize the software to some extent. For example, users of a sales database can often add and remove fields from the basic template, even configuring that template to an extent using the tools included by the developer. In like manner, end users of presentation software can often customize the templates provided, import data and images from other programs, and in general work within the parameters set by the program developer. Depending on how the software is written, the degree of customization the end user can perform may be quite extensive, or limited to a relatively small class of functions.
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