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Like many manufacturing organizations, The GEM Group, one of the industry's oldest makers of promotional products, has embraced innovations in global manufacturing. So it recently opened a facility in China. The company wanted to ramp up that facility's production. This included improving communication between the company's Lawrence, Massachusetts, headquarters and its Chinese plant. "As a first step, we needed a comprehensive inventory of the IT assets we had there and their configuration status," says Ben Messar, director of IT.
Asset discovery and inventory were important because the manufacturer was changing its IT desktop infrastructure. "We had to make sure their IT infrastructure could handle the changes," he continues. "Did the computers in Shenzhen have enough memory or power to work in the new IT environment?"
The Chinese situation was actually just part of a larger challenge of IT asset management and software compliance. "To implement new IT systems, it's vital to know which computers in our environment could absorb the changes and which needed to be upgraded or replaced. Unfortunately, our asset management records were inaccurate at best," says Messar. "We had to know what impact our new infrastructure would have on the entire company."
The GEM Group was doing its entire inventory manually. The only software tool it had came from its finance and accounting suite, which tracked asset depreciation.
And that did nothing to check on software compliance. The Business Software Association (BSA), a software industry organization that enforces software license agreements, can assess violating companies fines of between $10,000-$150,000. "Companies don't want to worry about their software vendors fining them after a surprise visit," says Jim Obsitnik, vice president of marketing for Everdream Corporation, The GEM Group's desktop management system provider. He points out the BSA offers bounties of up to $250,000 to anyone who provides a licensing violation tip. "You'd better be in compliance if you have made someone mad," he says.
Security was the final consideration. Traveling executives on the road could inadvertently bring in viruses or leave confidential employee or customer information vulnerable to theft by connecting to the Internet in public spaces. "They couldn't get their remote mobile systems under control," says Obsitnik.
Source: Outsourcing Journal, http://www.outsourcing-journal.com
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