We cannot predict if future enterprise help desks will be staffed only by bots, but we do know that software makers are moving toward simplifying tasks that were once purely the domain of data geeks. Three recent examples that are noteworthy:

Microsoft’s Power BI for Office 365. It recently came out of preview, and, together with Excel, enables users to analyze and visualize large sets of data. Read Microsoft’s Power BI team blog for a demonstration of what it can do with Valentine’s Day sales data.

A page from Microsoft's recent Windows 8.1 Power User Guide for Business. (Click to enlarge.)

A page from Microsoft’s recent Windows 8.1 Power User Guide for Business. (Click to enlarge.)

Excel 2013’s Quick Analysis Tool. This feature enables users to create charts, pivot tables, apply table styles, insert totals, and apply conditional formatting in just a few steps. These were once complicated, intimidating tasks for the average enterprise worker to tackle without a hand from IT or a colleague.

“We set out to create a dynamic interface that allows fear-free exploration of Excel’s analytical capabilities,” wrote Chad Rothschiller, a program manager on Microsoft’s Excel team, in a blog post.

Windows 8.1 Power User Guide for Business. Finally, Microsoft’s recent release of a Windows 8.1 guide for business signals a shift toward user empowerment. The guide, which is 20 pages long and in PDF format, offers tips and tricks for using File Explorer, Task Manager, Internet Explorer 11, Mobility Center, Windows To Go, and SkyDrive Pro. (Download it here.)


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