A weekly column profiling companies and personalities. This week:
What: Asset Management International, Seattle
Who: Thomas Watson, 35, president
Mission: Help large organizations keep track of what they have and where it is.
Embarrassing riches: It is not unusual for large amounts of computer hardware to “disappear” in the intestines of a large corporation. In some cases, companies sometimes can’t account for, say, 300 computers or $450,000 worth of gear. Sometimes it is on someone’s desk, but too often it sits in a warehouse and eventually becomes obsolete. “Most of the time it is somewhere in the building,” Watson said.
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License to waste: Keeping track of possessions makes sense on so many levels, Watson says. A company’s holdings will affect its insurance premiums and software-licensing fees. If a machine is taken out of inventory, then the company can skip the next software-fee renewal without penalty. “Our program prevents inefficiency and protects you from ordering new hardware to replace what you have already purchased,” Watson said.
Financials: The self-financed company (www.assetmgi.com) is worth about $2 million and is “borderline profitable.” Watson predicts this will change, projecting $1 million in revenue in 2008.
Longer life: The company is trying to change the notion that buying new hardware can save companies money. Instead, Watson says, the average life of a computer has now increased. “Over the past 20 years, software development was faster than hardware’s ability to keep up,” he said. “Hardware has caught up, so a PC can stay useful for a longer period of time.”
Keeping tabs: In the not-too-distant future, inventory control and asset tracking will be largely accomplished with RFID tags. Until then, the company is using the tried-and-true method of bar codes and handheld computers. Watson suggests a regularly rotating inventory schedule that divides the company into regions checked at least once a year. “Pretty soon everything will have a tag,” Watson said. “It will just take some time for the technology to evolve.”
— Charles Bermant