IT Asset Manager Beth Kaminski has worked in the ITAM space for 25 years. She’s spent seven of those years at Dart Container, a Snow Software customer. Thanks to those years of work from Beth and her team, the DART ITAM department excels at mitigating risks, adapting to changes in user needs and optimizing costs for their organization.
We recently captured Beth’s valuable insights in the embedded video above. In it, she identifies the impacts of hybrid working on today’s ITAM landscape, the We recently captured Beth’s valuable insights in the embedded video above. In it, she identifies the impacts of hybrid working on today’s pandemic-era ITAM landscape, the challenges this way of working presents for operational efficiency, and the ways Snow has helped DART Container tackle these issues. She also offers her perspective on the future of ITAM and whether we’ll ever get back to “the pre-pandemic normal.”
ITAM then and now
We started our conversation with Beth’s recollections of how her ITAM journey began before she even started working at Dart, and then we got her take on what IT is like right now. “It goes back to before software asset management, or IT asset management, was a thing,” she recalls. “I was doing financial management at the time, and the CIO called me up, pushed a stack of paper at me, and said, ‘Here, Beth, I know you can clean these up . . . You don’t have to do this forever, but just clean up these spreadsheets.’”
Twenty-five years later, she no longer needs to work reactively by fixing hardcopies. Instead, she’s responding to and reflecting upon the ways in which the last few years have affected ITAM professionals like her. “IT is a reexamination of the daily life of an IT worker right now . . . a reexamination of the working environment,” she explains, “A good example is the Omicron variant. I think it took a lot of us by surprise, and Dart Container went back to remote work, but we can work here if we like to. It left people with a choice. Dart container made the announcement that we could go back and work at home at like, 8:30 in the morning, and by 9:30 everyone cleared out. Twenty-five years later, she no longer needs to work reactively by fixing hardcopies. Instead, she’s responding to and reflecting upon the ways in which the last few years have affected ITAM professionals like her. “IT is a reexamination of the daily life of an IT worker right now . . . a reexamination of the working environment,” she explains, “A good example is the Omicron variant. I think it took a lot of us by surprise, and Dart Container went back to remote work, but we can work here if we like to. It left people with a choice.”
The move to hybrid
Her colleagues mirrored the larger movement toward hybrid and remote working in the IT industry, so we asked Beth to identify some of the challenges that arose for Dart professionals as they made the transition. She immediately singled out the working environment and tools we typically take for granted, such as internet access. “Dart Container actually sits in mid-Michigan in the United States,” she says. “We’re in a fairly rural area, and a lot of the people in IT live in rural areas. We were providing hot spots for folks. It was problematic; everybody was just sucking up the bandwidth. That was one of the biggest challenges around hybrid work — getting the right things that you needed to work with —printers, internet access, chairs. Who would’ve thought chairs?” With the right IT asset management tools, however, they had the ability to just go and be productive right away. “That,” she says, “was very successful.”
Despite the obstacles that this new hybrid working environment presents for IT asset management, it does have a big upside for individual contributors, according to Beth. “Individual contributors have more of a say in how things are done,” she says. “Management has backed off a little bit. There is more opportunity to be proactive in things like cost optimization. It could be that we are afraid that we are going to miss things. So, people are being more proactive, and they’re also being more diligent at the tasks they did in the past.”
Operationally, however, there was a significant challenge as people moved back and forth between their homes and offices. “We have laptops, so we just drag them around,” she explains. Other people in her organization had equipment in both places. “That has been problematic from an operational standpoint,” she says.
Supporting business growth with new tech
When it comes to best supporting business growth through hybrid working, Beth says that ITAM professionals need to look continuously for technologies that facilitate the transition back and forth from the office and make it easier for workers. “When we’re talking about hybrid, we’re maybe talking not completely remote, and not completely on-premises,” she explains. It can be a disorienting transition in which workers have trouble recovering what they miss from each environment. Beth strongly advises ITAM professionals to look for and adopt technologies that help workers feel that they are part of a group and not disconnected.
As for the future of ITAM, Beth asserts that we’ll all need to adapt to the new technologies —and their price tags — that are coming in fast and furious, just as Dart had to quickly adapt in its own recent history. “There has been talk out there in the space about how everyone had a different transformational journey,” Beth says. “That journey took place in about six months, and [had] a lot of cost and a lot of software asset management or IT asset management tasks and initiatives with it,” she remembers. “We were already sort of reeling from cloud, and it all kind of hit us at one time.”
The future of ITAM
Talking further about the future of ITAM and whether we’ll get back to “the pre-pandemic normal,” she believes the new hybrid environment is a permanent fixture. “I think we’ve gone too far. I think if you look at the marketplace now, people are insisting on remote work, so I think hybrid is here to stay,” Beth insists. She adds that she’s not sure what that “normal” really was in the first place. “We were already doing a big metamorphosis in the space because of cloud,” she says.
Hybrid working also created challenges regarding visibility, according to Beth. “I think you have to work a bit harder at it because you are remote, or remote part of the time. You have to try harder; you have to push your initiatives forward, you have to stand out and get good at being on camera and using video,” she says. “That was a learning curve for a lot of folks.” Being proactive and better at this literal, traditional visibility helps for reporting visibility, Beth claims. “It gives the impression that you’re on top of things and that you’re seeing things, and everybody is watching you,” she says.
Success with Snow
Beth also related how Snow has been a huge contributor to achieving that visibility into the entire IT landscape at DART.
“Snow has helped in giving us . . . that visibility to move forward, more importantly in governance, and be able to really see in this fast-moving pace around hybrid work and new technologies . . . what’s coming in and out of the environment. That’s very important. Having a tool that was portable in and out of on-prem, that was really important to us.”Beth Kaminski, ITAM Manager, Dart container
As a nice conclusion to our conversation, Beth conveyed the impact on her team and corporate culture when they won an Honorable Mention Award for Transformation of the Year at the Snow Software 2021 Technology Intelligence Awards. “Winning the Technology Intelligence Award was SO rewarding for my team,” she happily relayed. “We have worked together for six years, and . . . this program didn’t exist before the five of us started working. It was like . . . saying you’re recognized, it was all worth it. There were arguments, and yes, tears, but all those tears have been recognized in both the ITAM space and in Dart Container corporately.”
To read more of Beth’s industry insights, check out, “4 Key Metrics Every Software Asset Manager Should Measure.”
To learn more about Beth Kaminski, check out her bio on LinkedIn.
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