This article is an interview with Stephen Becker, IT Asset Manager at Seagate Technology LLC, and is based on his recent presentation “Communications, the key to success or failure” at the IAITAM Fall conference earlier this month.
So what exactly is your day job?
You recently presented at the IAITAM conference, can you tell us a little bit about your presentation?
My presentation was focused on communication and why it is so important for a successful ITAM program. The session covered the basics of communication along with some great interaction from the audience that included idea sharing and a lot of questions. My big takeaway for that session was that without communication, ITAM couldn’t succeed in a workplace.
What do you think is the biggest mistake that people can make when it comes to communications?
When communicating with others about ITAM, a lot of people tend to try and use the same type of presentations and information for different audiences. While what we should be doing is ensuring that we are presenting the appropriate material to the proper audience. For instance, if the audience is a CIO, presenting technical jargon and details will not produce the results we are looking for most of the time. C-level executives usually want to know the financial impact, wins for the business, and how it can help them improve the overall company business. The inverse is also true. If we are presenting to systems engineers or developers, they don’t have as much of a concern about the financial aspects as they do the technical details.
People often forget how important good communication is; what makes it so important for an ITAM program?
Without communication, there is no ITAM. In order for ITAM to be successful, we need to sell the benefit upward and downward. I have found that we sometimes get too caught up in the day-to-day business of ITAM and forget that what we really do is ensure our companies are maximizing their financial investment in technology. One of the aspects of an ITAM program where communication is not just important, but critical, is during a publisher audit. If you say, look or breathe the wrong way it can be a disaster. Communication, from my standpoint, should be the first thing new analysts are taught to minimize confusion and mistakes.
What would your advice be to someone who is already half way through an ITAM program and is struggling with their communications?
Go back to square one and really sell the whole concept of ITAM to your executive(s) all over again. Prove to your company that you are confident in the outcome and make commitments to the proper people. Show the value that can be achieved with a solid ITAM program. Once you can show the value of ITAM you are set for life, but getting to that point truly is the hardest part.
What do you see as the primary benefits of good communication when it comes to ITAM?
Executive buy-in and sponsorship. When we have executives on our side, we can do whatever we want as long as we are producing results that are worth more than the cost. This is basic ROI stuff, but absolutely necessary.
What do you think is the most overlooked way of communicating?
Listening. Everyone has an opinion and they are all valued, but when was the last time you listened without and agenda? Its not easy to do, honestly. I struggle with this as much as anyone else. We are all wanting to address and fix something, but without hearing the whole story, you cant make a solid decision. Go into each meeting open minded, willing to learn as well as teach, and you will succeed in any role you take on.
How do you measure the success of good communication?
Ask for feedback. After every presentation, while documenting the details, in your email communications, face-to-face, all of it needs feedback. I had a manager once that taught me about being more personal than technical. It has changed the way I communicate to this day. I was a techie for most of my career, so I thought logically and technically. I had near zero clue how to be personable in my daily work communications. I didn’t consider that when I spoke only in geek-anese, I was not working my case to be a leader. Leaders are personal people. They want to feel good about the individual presenting and producing results.
Any final comments on the topic of communication?
I hope that everyone sees and truly understands the importance of communication in their lives. It isn’t just about the workplace, even though we are focusing on that here. The way we communicate impacts every facet of our lives. I am a true advocate of “without soft skills, there are no hard skills”, this means that without basic communication skills, there is nothing that we can truly accomplish in our lives. Do you speak, email, correspond in any way, write, document, present, etc.? Then you must develop your communication skills over and over. There is always room for improvement in this area for everyone; even the best communicators find improvements they would like to make year after year.
Stephen has held a wide variety of roles in Information Technology over the last twenty years. His past roles have included nearly everything from tech support analyst to management. Currently he is an IT Asset Manager. He holds a CSAM and CHAMP certification, is a speaker and a writer. Working with all levels in an IT shop from C-level to “a new techie” has afforded Stephen the opportunity to impact companies he has worked for from the technical as well as business side.
The International Association of Information Technology Asset Managers, Inc. (“IAITAM”) is the professional association for individuals and organizations involved in any aspect of IT Asset Management, Software Asset Management, Hardware Asset Management, and the lifecycle processes supporting IT Asset Management in organizations of every size and industry across the globe.
Their next conference Spring 2014 ACE will take place in Las Vegas 29th April – 1st May. As the Official Media Sponsor of this event, ITAM Review has secured a special discount for all our readers, please CONTACT US to find out more about our negotiated rates and how to book your place.