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ITAM Channel interview with UK Chapter Lead David Mackenzie

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State of ITAM in times of the COVID 19 pandemic

–    David, welcome and thank you for joining us for this interview where we will be talking about what really affecting almost all parts of our society today – the corona virus. The ITAM area is absolutely no different – but probably with significant differences than to most other parts of business. But first of all, I’d like to understand your background.

David, you’ve only recently taken on the role as the Chapter Leader for ITAMOrg in the UK, but what is your background in ITAM and current engagement besides this?

I have worked in IT almost since leaving school, and have never grown bored of its challenges and changes through the decades. I have worked specifically for a good number of years in IT Service Management, covering ITAM and Configuration management for some well-known brands including Dyson, Carnival UK and currently the National Trust.
I am fascinated with how services develop internally within organisations and how the outcomes affect multiple workstreams including IT Security and especially ITAM. I want to continue to lead the visibility of the relationships that are required to support customers and stakeholders in the business.

Ok thanks. Now what made you make this decision to step forward as the Chapter Leader for ITAMOrg in the UK?

I saw the opportunity as a way of driving forward my passion for our industry. Currently there are many gaps and also a lot of misunderstanding about how broad our footprint is as professionals.
I have seen so many examples of where ITAM has been left until after the disaster has occurred – with the pandemic in our midst it was a great way for me to lead others and influence the right audience. ITAMOrg has a fantastic global footprint with likeminded professionals who want to help and create a recognised framework globally.

How do you see the pandemic influence your organization and not at least your work as IT Asset Manager?

I must admit, I predicted quite a few situations very early on. I just did not predict how rapid this would be and the damages that we would see globally in the months to come. The pandemic allowed myself and other professionals in our situation to take the helm and lead on where we could find future value and strategy in the purchase and support of licensing and hardware. In our field, we see some key trends; low usage of high cost products and services, equipment out of support, security vulnerabilities in hardware and software releases and the ever-growing threat of a vendor audit. Out of this situation, my passion for value creation was recognised and with great support from the organisation, I was able to work immediately on planning the next 3 years ahead.
We like to run an efficient workflow with minimal impact on our partners and teams. My key was to start at the top with the policy and process – and allow those to drive a change in culture and create a family that strives to achieve success daily.

What is your best advice to your ITAM peers and colleges on how to tackle the current situation? And also – are there any positive outcomes / lessons learned we can take with us?

Don’t panic! As professionals, we have a great ability to make changes that affect the outcomes and decisions of the department and organisation over a longer period of time. You should not be planning the next few months ahead. I always aim to ensure that all stakeholders are aware of costs and changes at least 24 months ahead. The Technology industry is very much alive, if you are seeing constraints, I can guarantee your supplier and their customers are also seeing the same.
Be smart, focus on the outputs of your decisions, and how to change the perspective of your audience. IT is always seen as the CAPEX overhead in many organisations but do they understand why? – Now is your time to shine, build relationships and promote technology. My greatest allies are in IT Security, 99% of the time that team will understand web traffic which leads to SaaS visibility, and also what your users are doing. Focus on a solid SAM / ITAM tool to promote effective lifecycle management.

In your new role as Chapter Leader – what is your vision for the ITAM industry and how it should evolve in the coming year?

With the current pandemic we cannot predict how long this is going to last for. In the last 6 months alone, we have seen a 90% increase in staff working from home and being described as ‘The New Normal’. With that new mindset, we have different challenges:

•    How do our assets map into our networks externally (VPN Licensing!)
•    Patch and update management for our endpoints and bandwidth on our infrastructure to support that
•    The move to SaaS, and how home networking may affect bandwidth
•    Collaboration and the associated tools, what’s safe, what’s expensive – where’s the value?
•    Where does the Joiner / Mover / Leaver process fit in with this culture shift?

The above are just some of the challenges we are to face in the next 18 months. Collaboration is absolutely paramount in our position and we need to continue to promote this in our network.

OK – and one final question then; in ITAMOrg we really try to work in two dimensions; one is development of competencies for ITAM professionals and the other is to help “spread the word” so to speak. To engage with the wider organization in order to tackle and get the most of your technology investments. How would you, now as the Chapter Lead for UK, prioritise these two dimensions?

I have this common principle, that we start from the top of our priorities before we can create the vision of compliance in an organisation. We need to understand what caused the issue to begin with. We need to focus on the decision makers in any organisation and this generally sits with the C-Suite, for I or a team to influence anyone, we need to meet the ones holding the budget and ultimately the rules of governance. As I have stated previously, we create a family of stakeholders that drive the passion right through to those on the front line.

Mother Teresa left this inspirational quote:

‘I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.

The above quote sits with me as you need to seed ideas and not push them. Cultural shift is a very hard subject that leads to the demise of many frameworks in IT, and not just in Technology. As leaders of ITAMOrg we are here to influence and continue the passion that we all share globally as professionals.

In the UK I often see many questions from those in the field, as well as in the procurement and commercial channels – imagine if there was a voice that understood all of them? I aim for ITAMOrg being the Rosetta Stone of translation for how departments interlace into all their capabilities and strategies through the future – regardless of the pandemic or any other shortfalls that we may see in the years ahead.