Randi Gillum: Helping a school system manage their IT assets

This story is part of Analytics Heroes, a series of profiles on leaders transforming the future of business analytics.

At the Data and AI Forum in Miami, we met Randi Gillum, a senior consultant with Maven Asset Management, working with her client, Paula Curtis of Atlanta Public Schools (APS) system in Atlanta, Georgia. Randi works as a functional analyst with the school system’s operations division to provide self-service IT to staff and students. The old onboard reports and dashboards simply weren’t meeting their needs. That’s where Randi came in to find a better solution for Paula and APS. Simply put, Randi says “we needed more flexibility to be able to drill into the data to really get better insights,”

Randi Gillum: Helping a school system manage their IT assetsExtending the school system’s cloud-based solution

Working with APS operations, Randi and her colleagues at Maven Asset Management, assessed a variety of new solutions for asset tracking and management, work-order tracking, and change management analysis. APS had been using IBM Control Desk, a cloud-based solution for ticket and asset management. So, adding another cloud product made it easier for them to work with. APS didn’t have to use their technical resources to make the systems work together. As a public school system, they have to be aware of governance and the technology they bring into the schools, so it’s important that they manage resources efficiently.

With that factor in mind, Randi helped implement a suite of products including IBM Big Fix for endpoint management, IBM Control Desk on Cloud for service and asset management, and IBM Cognos Analytics on Cloud to connect, consolidate, and analyze the data from all of these sources.

Onboarding and insights

Randi proudly declares that “setting up Cognos Analytics was a huge win…Just being able to roll out standardized reporting and dashboards at a baseline level. Now everybody is looking at the data the same way, and we’re all speaking the same language as it when it comes to asset and service management.”

Randi praised IBM’s support throughout the implementation. “IBM has some really great trainers, both on-site and off-site,” she says. Being able to get efficient, reliable support was a major key to her success. Randi continues to describe IBM’s support in her endeavor with APS, “along with web-based training, it was great having someone you could reach out to when you needed help.” Off-camera, Paula echoed this sentiment, “you need the right people on board in the beginning, who understand the data set, how to manipulate it, and build those relationships between the data.”

Within a month, upper management at APS were using dashboards that Maven Asset Management had created. Randi emphasized the ease-of-use with Cognos Analytics, “Cognos has great toolkits that we could use right out of the box. We could spin up some maps that showed exactly where our assets were and allowed our leaders to really drill into the data, school-by-school. The ease of use has been a game changer.”

Building on the system

Over the last few years, Atlanta Public Schools has integrated IBM software that give staff and students self-service IT solutions, including IBM Tivoli Application Dependency Discovery Manager (TADDM). The technology team can detect assets on the network and their relationship to each other, quickly deploy software and patches, track software usage on client devices, and automate the delivery of services and requests.

The team at APS is also looking forward to seeing how Maven Asset Management can assist in facilitating upgrades that allow them to use more of the AI components. Once implemented, AI will give more flexibility and ease of use to APS’s upper management giving them the ability to be able to intuitively ask what they are looking for based on the data they will be exploring.

Pioneering her efforts and being an Analytics Hero

Randi was one of the first on her team at Maven Asset Management to use Cognos Analytics. By doing so, she was able to help her client find success. When asked about what drives her, Randi says, “I enjoy solving problems and helping leaders see what the needs of the business are; and helping them achieve those goals.”

Toward the end of her interview, Randi describes how Cognos Analytics was the right choice when working with APS, and her thought on being recognized as an Analytics Hero. Randi smiles and says “[Cognos] gives [APS] the insights they need to be able to better run their business. Being an Analytics Hero means diving deep into the system to really understand how it works, and how you can use it to help your clients achieve their needs.”

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