During a recent inquiry concerning how some 24,000 of its customers (about 80% of whom are small to midsize businesses) use their office computers, business-software developer SBT was startled to find that the average user squandered more than four hours a week of company time not using one. If the country's 25 million full-time computer operators earn $17 per hour, calculated the study's author, vice-president of marketing David Harris, then in the aggregate some $100 billion in productivity goes down the drain annually.

In brief, the top four time wasters: (1) Waiting -- for printouts to emerge from network printers, for a pickup at the other end of a tech-support call. (2) Worrying -- about how superiors will judge the appearance of a report, the details in a spreadsheet. (3) Helping -- by walking bewildered coworkers through computer complexities. (4) Filing -- that is, trying to locate data on a network, or clearing storage space on a hard disk. "What this means," says Harris, "is that the PC is no longer merely an office tool; it's become a strategic business issue that calls for better management." To help management gauge where computer output needs bolstering, SBT offers a four-page summary of its findings, together with recommendations for remedying problems. Call 800-944-1000 to request a free copy of the summary. -- Robert A. Mamis

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Where users get assistance
Coworkers (nonexperts) 29% Coworkers (PC experts) 14%

Phone support 28 Other 10

Software documentation 19

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