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Business Observer Friday, Feb. 14, 2014 6 years ago

IT evangelist

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Despite big-name clients like Johnson & Johnson, the Department of Homeland Security and Cargill, Lori Sechio thinks there's more she can do to scale her Tampa IT asset management business. It's what she calls evangelism.
by: Traci McMillan Correspondent

Lori Sechio likes to think of herself as “Chief Evangelist,” rather than chief executive officer. Her LinkedIn profile says, “Making the world a better place one ITAM (IT asset management) solution at a time.”

Sechio founded her Tampa-based IT asset management firm, TekMethods, more than 13 years ago. Working with companies that have more than 2,000 PCs, TekMethods helps manage the complete life cycle of their IT assets, such as hardware and software.

“I'm an evangelist because you can liberate huge amounts of capital and dramatically reduce your business risk” through asset management, Sechio says. “I get to go in there and ultimately be a hero.”

Sechio has built her self-funded company to 19 employees, nearly 100 clients, and though she declined to share exact figures, annual revenues in the multimillions, Sechio says.

Her list of clients features big brand names such as Cargill, United Bank, Schweppes, ConAgra Foods and the Department of Homeland Security.

Despite these big clients, Sechio sees plenty of opportunity to scale her IT asset management model. She thinks the way to do it is through a partnership with an IT services provider, or possibly even a merger. A merger could be appealing if the outfit is larger and has a broader reach, Sechio says. She envisions a deal like this would free her from the administration of the business, something she says she's never enjoyed. “If I could jettison and take those things off my plate, and spend more time doing what I love — talking to clients and figuring out what needs to be done and build their capability — that's nirvana for me,” Sechio says.

Sechio decided to start her own business when the asset management company she was working for, Inacom, went under in July 2000. Taking a few clients with her, such as Praxair, an industrial gas company in New York, and TranSystems, an engineering firm in Kansas City, she launched her business and “backpedaled” quickly to build the infrastructure to support it.

From there, she said the company grew organically. She asks all of her clients to share TekMethods' name with others in the industry, and sometimes asks clients to share their experience with potential clients. “In our little niche, we have a name,” she says.

She uses her big-name clients to help acquire new business. When she can tell Cleveland Clinic that she's worked with Massachusetts General Hospital, Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Johnson & Johnson, she's in.

She also has the benefit of showing the return on investment her company can give. For example, TekMethods helped Johnson & Johnson cut expenses by more than $1 million, Sechio says. The company has helped a major retailer save $1.3 million in four months on software and a health care company recoup around $855,000 in hardware manufacture rebates. How? “The key is exploiting the data and putting in a perpetual inventory,” Sechio says.

Sechio says she's able to relate to her clients because she used to be an IT director at an insurance agency. She knows that the clients have probably already invested in a tool to manage their assets, “The key to TekMethods is we're tool-independent,” Sechio says. “I don't care what tool you use, we have expertise in all of them.” Her company helps train IT departments to create a process to maintain asset management.

Software license management is a big draw for business, Sechio says. An asset management system tracks how the software was configured, how it was paid for, and what contracts govern it. It can also delineate “what data on what PC is accessible by whom,” she adds.

If a company is out of compliance with the terms and conditions of a software program by dolling out more licenses than it bought, it's subject to penalties, fines and negative publicity, Sechio says. “With a good asset management program, you eliminate that risk.”

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