Q&A With Dave Westlake, Print Command
Print Command recently launched a new asset-mapping app called ATLAS. We sat down with company president and CEO Dave Westlake to ask a few questions about the app as well as the business environment for which it was created.
What exactly does the ATLAS app do?
ATLAS by Print Command enables the expansion of MPS practices into sustainable, profitable managed services. ATLAS employs a unique cloud-based solution process to map assets and visually display client IT environments, giving depth and dimension to otherwise monolithic data. ATLAS provides unparalleled visibility and interaction into client organizations and offers a simple, inexpensive way to derive more accurate and useful information about clients’ device fleets. This leads to decreased operational costs, expedited issue resolution, and optimized device inventory and life cycle activity.
What changes in the business environments you work in made you realize there was a need for this product?
1) Security. If you don’t know what your environment “looks” like, you can’t secure it. This is true in any defensive posturing, whether it be military, cyber or anything else. You need to understand likely avenues of attack before you can construct effective defensive measures. ATLAS not only helps clients discover and track the physical location of their devices, it also provides end users with the information necessary to take immediate action toward constructing an effective defensive posture.
2) Information. Every organization I’ve ever worked at, for or with has demonstrated a need for persistent, immediately actionable information to help them be more efficient and agile. The average SMB has two or three disparate tools that file and process data; enterprises have multiples of them. This data, in and of itself, is inefficient, clumsy and ultimately useless. Deriving any value from data typically relies on individual expertise that changes over time, subjecting organizations to a constant state of rediscovering things about their environment each time there is a personnel change. Even small organizations produce huge amounts of data and are vulnerable to this trap. ATLAS provides a common platform for tremendous amounts of data to be compartmentalized, sorted, filtered and presented as immediately actionable information (and it is unaffected by changes in the knowledge or experience of personnel). Unlike data, which is cumbersome, ATLAS-generated information is powerful.
What is needed from the customer, both initially and on an ongoing basis, to use and maximize ATLAS?
ATLAS is extraordinarily simple to implement and support. Implementation starts with uploading map images (.jpg or .png) and asset lists (.xls or .csv) into ATLAS’s Web admin page. Then, using the iPad app (a free download from the App Store) or Web-based maps through the ATLAS portal, you drag and drop the assets onto the map. We’ve seen clients without maps use a digital photo of an architectural drawing as a map before, and some organizations that didn’t have a list of assets to upload were amazed at how simple it was to create their asset list manually.
After setup, ongoing use is made easy through ATLAS’s simple, intuitive design. Both the ATLAS iPad app and Web admin page employ the most effective UX and design principles, making the app as simple to learn and become familiar with as the mobile device it runs on. Clean lines, uncluttered presentation and native command protocols take managing asset inventories, for example, from a hectic chore to a simple “tap, drag and drop” across your iPad screen.
ATLAS seems to assume a merging of print assets and IT assets. Is this a trend that you see and expect to continue?
Asset management practices will continue to merge IT asset types to better facilitate strategically driven technology integrations. The days of haphazardly deploying computer assets and print devices, for example, without consideration of long-term capital and operational expenditures across the entire IT environment are long gone. MPS providers will find that simply optimizing a print environment to meet existing computing capabilities will fade out of their clients’ focus in favor of optimized environments that refresh computers, printers and things like mobile devices and VoIP phones off of a common Good Life Cycle Practice (GLCP) technique. Future decisions on asset purchases will not be made without consideration of other asset type purchases that, right now, do not appear interconnected … but increasingly are. In enterprises, the future is now; in SMBs, it’s as close as tomorrow.
If you’re relying on just managing clients’ print environments, don’t be surprised if you are pressured (or replaced!) by a competitor who can help manage a broader portion of their IT environments. Resource consolidation coupled with accountability expansion applies to the way businesses handle their partner relationships now as well. ATLAS was designed, in part, to help MPS practitioners make this transition.
What is the ideal environment to utilize ATLAS?
ATLAS is immediately valuable in any client environment that currently has to keep track of deployed IT assets (probably via a spreadsheet) and the person responsible for doing so is literally not within the line of sight of every asset on that list. ATLAS becomes increasingly useful to organizations as they add locations, floors and new people involved in managing the IT environment.
Organizations that take advantage of ATLAS’ custom APIs find tremendous value in the way ATLAS streamlines tedious workflows. ATLAS does this by collecting data across multiple platforms (RMM, asset management tools, service desk tools, RFID, etc.), consolidating it through an elegant delivery mechanism, then pushing data updates back to its native application.
Print Command is all about security. What type of security can users expect with this product?
ATLAS employs the same enterprise-grade secure cloud that other Print Command applications, like Olympus, use. This cloud environment utilizes a defense-in-depth security methodology with redundant, state-of-the-art encryption protocols and secure backups. APIs and other customer-facing applications (to include communication between ATLAS and the cloud) use industry-standard (or above) certificate encryption to ensure safe and secure data exchange.
Not only is ATLAS in and of itself secure, but it is, as was mentioned previously, the key tool for the first step in securing an IT environment.
The ATLAS app can be downloaded from the iTunes store.
This article originally appeared in the December 2013 issue of Workflow.
Amy Weiss is the editorial director of 1105 Media’s Office Technology Group, which includes The Imaging Channel, Workflow and Recharger Magazine. She has been with the company since 2002 in various roles that include news editor, managing editor and content development manager. Prior to that she worked in public relations, television and radio, and has been a freelance writer and editor for 20 years, with work published in numerous print and online publications. Weiss received her bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Central Florida and her master’s degree in communication arts from the University of West Florida.