Interview with CEO and Founder, Kevin McGrew: Part 1 of 3

Video 1 of 3 for a wide-ranging interview with AssetGurus’ CEO and Founder, Kevin McGrew. Kevin answers questions about Inventory companies, IT Asset Management, Inventory best-practices, and compliance issues in the rapidly changing industry.

Interview Transcript

Interviewer: Hi welcome to the show. Joining us today is Kevin McGrew, CEO and co-founder of Asset Gurus an IT inventory and services firm helping enterprise track and manage their resources using industry best practices. Kevin thanks very much for joining us on the program.

Kevin McGrew: It’s a pleasure to be here.

Interviewer: So first of all Kevin, for those who don’t know, can you give us a little bit of history around the IT asset management industry and inventory companies. What’s the story behind Asset Gurus?

Kevin McGrew: Sure, I’d love to do that. Well, IT asset management as a technology has come in to play for many businesses. Many businesses in the 90s converted from more of a manual entry system to more of an automated approach to their business and the technology has proliferated throughout enterprise and companies started to need to track their assets.

One of the big events that happened in the late 90’s was Y2K, the year 2000, and there was a mad rush to really get a handle on computing devices that were out in most enterprises and because of that they did inventories. They physically inventoried all their computer systems, they prepare for this but they needed ways to have best practices to manage those inventories in an on-going basis after Y2K, and that’s where IT asset management started.

As a company, Asset Gurus was founded during that time during Y2K. We had many clients in another industry that was involved in doing computer cleaning. We had many banks, large corporate banks across the US and across Canada that we were cleaning their computer systems and they said, “Hey, while you’re cleaning them can you inventory our computers as well.” And so we developed a technology using barcode labels to capture information quickly because it’s really laborious to do it with pen and paper. If you can imagine writing down a serial number and you’re typing, is that a B or is that an 8, is that a 5 or an S, well there’s a lot of problems there. So, we developed a technology that allows us to capture assets at a rate faster than really any other technology out there and so it makes it affordable for companies to capture information, and so we’ve been one of the inventory companies since 1997 and we’ve been doing it for large corporations across Canada and the US and around the world.

Interviewer: Well, the last decade has seen many regulatory schemes put in place at both a state and federal level surrounding data protection. These regulations include mandatory asset tracking data, end of life asset recycling, and others. What are the effects of these regulations on the American business environment as a whole and on inventory companies in particular?

Kevin McGrew: That’s a good question. Many small businesses alike right now are over-regulated. You now we live in a very highly, lot of oversight, a lot of regulation burdens put on most businesses from the healthcare industry they’re looking at privacy regulations like the HIPAA, form the public company environment they’re looking at regulations like Sarbanes-Oxley, SOX we call it, where they really just need to have a good handle on where they’re assets are, who has them, and why they have them. And so, asset management has really come in to play as a key part to meet these regulatory issues and for our industry in particular, IT asset management has really become a key player in helping provide the information that auditors, third parties, government agencies need to make sure companies are complying with these regulations.

Interviewer: And Kevin, do you see more regulations of this nature coming down the pipe or how should businesses position themselves to best comply with these oversight requirements?

Kevin McGrew: Well, you know, definitely we’ll watch that closely. It really depends on the government agencies at hand right now. Agencies like the EPA, like the SCC, are very much instructed by the current administration to look at regulations or businesses. There’s a real push, you know, for the last 4 years we’ve been under lot of new regulations being in place, Obama care, Dodd-Frank, and it’s really impacted organizations like healthcare, finance, some of the big industries in America today, ad so everybody is still reeling from all these changes. So I definitely see it more coming down the pipe but I think there is a move if there is a new administration to reduce some of these burdens on small business to increase employment, to increase the economy, really, to impact the economy. So, yeah, we really see it coming down the pipe but we’re hoping it doesn’t.

Interviewer: And how does ITS management affect IT security. What are the risks involved with a large fleet of IT items in the workplace?

Kevin McGrew: Well, many organizations have lots of assets. They’re all over the enterprise in environments, like hospitals for example, they have every nurse station has computers, every exam room has a computer and the operating environments everybody uses computers so computers are integral part of the workplace and because of that, people move offices, move buildings, move states, move cities and typically they take their assets with them or they’re receiving new assets so there is a very dynamic environment. And tracking all the moves and the changes that happen in this environment is very difficult for most of the organizations, unless they use technology to accomplish that. So, IT security is impacted, you move somebody let’s say it’s a finance job, they have a lot of information on their computer hard drive that’s related to the finances of the company. You know, moving that asset, you just can’t give it to somebody else. You need to know it’s been decommissioned, what stage is that asset in its life cycle, and so utilizing technology, people, and processes. So you manage those assets, help companies deal with this security issue.

The biggest way that we see companies really we advise our customers to immediately impact our, you know, security theft, large movement of assets that are not tracked or just by identifying them as corporate assets. Imagine walking in to a large corporation and knowing which ones belong to the company, which ones are privately owned, which ones belong to the third party. Well, having a corporate asset tag is probably the first step any company can take to prevent security, because people know they’re being tracked, it takes away the temptation and it keeps honest people honest in stealing things, and we found an immediately large impact on theft for example, by just asset tagging all the corporate assets.

Interviewer: Well those are very practical steps. What are some other practical steps that a firm of any size can take to protect themselves from any sorts of risks?

Kevin McGrew: We’re definitely having an inventory. A bass line inventory of the assets is important. The inventories move very quickly though you have new stuff coming in, old stuff going out so it’s very dynamic. It’s very important to have a database environment or we call it a repository, an IT repository or a CMDB, as many people call it, and using technology to help track movement of those assets. So life cycle management tool using bar code technology for example, lot of people, you know, know that barcodes has been around a long time, but if you look at companies like Federal Express, which are effectively inventory companies, they’ve really made their mark in the industry by being able to track a package anywhere in the world at any time. And so, if they can track a package in one day and several times, why can’t businesses track their IT equipment in the same way, in a manageable way. And so that’s what we advocate for we provide those kinds of solutions for many of our clients as well. There is many others but we only have limited time.

Interviewer: Well, and thanks for elaborating on that. Let’s look at bad practices, Okay? Why do big firms have bad practices? What makes it so hard to get management buy in for IT projects, you know, regardless of necessity?

Kevin McGrew: Well, best practices and bad practices are very much a moving target. Best practices typically come from a think tank thought leaders out I the industry and we find that a lot of those best practices aren’t always implementable. They aren’t always able to be implemented because of resources, personnel, technology available, just budgets in particular. And because of many of those factors, a lot of companies have put in place practices that have been around since before they’ve been doing things the way they do it. So you walk in to a lot of organizations and you ask them, “Why are you doing it that way?” and they go, “I don’t know, we’ve been doing it that way since we get here.” And so that what we call bad practices because it’s really not anchored on anything, any foundation of why you’re doing it so one of the first steps we take with many of our clients is to come in and assess their environment, how they operate from an outside perspective and really apply the best practices and make them implementable based on the technology, resources, the funding, and the personnel that they have.