The constantly changing world of IT needs leaders who can pivot with major changes, for both business priorities and breakthrough technologies.

Tom Beohm, VP of IT, CD Baby

May 10, 2023

4 Min Read
SergeyNivens via Adobe Stock

While IT teams have always had to wear many hats, that’s never been truer than in today’s market. From implementing mandates for reduced spend to bulking up cybersecurity initiatives and exploring automation and other technologies, IT teams are stretched thin -- and IT leaders often struggle to balance the priorities required to thrive in our uncertain economy.

I’ve worked in IT for over two decades and have seen tremendous changes -- both in the IT landscape and in my company’s business model as an online music distributor. In the past 12 years alone, I’ve experienced two complete evolutions of our tech stack: the first being the evolution of software from physical to virtualization; the second being the rise of cloud and software as a service (SaaS). Throughout these experiences there have been a lot of lessons learned on how to lead IT departments through major changes in business priorities and leverage breakthrough technologies that can support future growth.

Letting the Past Help Inform the Present

One of the biggest shifts over recent years has been IT’s role, moving from a helpdesk operator to more of an operational and strategic partner. With the rise of disruptive cloud technologies, as well as a global pandemic, IT has more opportunities to demonstrate value and guide the C-suite.

When rumblings about cloud and SaaS started, we knew we were on the precipice of something major.

However, with new technology, such as cloud apps, proliferating everywhere, it’s easy to see a shiny new thing and want to slide the corporate card. So, we knew we had to approach conversations around these innovations with the goal to be as deliberate as possible. We have prioritized introducing standards and frameworks behind all our new technology before implementation. Aligning on these decisions has been the reason we’ve had minimal refactoring of our modern platforms “while the rocket ship is in flight,” as they say.

Big changes can be daunting for IT teams and mistakes can be damaging for morale. As a manager, one of the biggest things I’ve learned is how new tech initiatives can impact team dynamics. In addition to enabling a smarter infrastructure, the frameworks we set have had a positive impact on our team’s morale by having a plan in place to move forward, thus reducing the need to go backwards to fix major pieces of the puzzle.

Now in the post-pandemic era, we’re seeing many companies finally examining their tech stacks and the investments they made to ease the transition to today’s decentralized work models. For instance, in the haste to go remote, a lot of organizations were quick to bulk up their Zoom or Microsoft Teams seats -- but didn’t have a way to see their true total software spend and how licenses were, or weren’t, actually being utilized.

We’ve always had an emphasis on collaboration so when it came to our employees trying new applications to adapt to this new era of work, we‘ve supported their efforts to go out and find the tools they needed. However, we used an honor system that relied on employees reporting back to us on these apps, and it soon became apparent that the system was no longer effective. With everything else going on, we knew we had to get apps under control if we wanted to reduce waste and find new efficiencies.

This journey led us to exploring SaaS management. We wanted a complete picture of what apps were being used across the organization, how often, and by whom. We found a SaaS management platform (SMP), Torii, that enabled us to surface every SaaS app in our network, plus their usage and spend data, and have a real-time view of it all. We were stunned by the number of apps we found.

These insights also served as an opportunity for IT to participate in spend conversations with the C-Suite. We’re now involved in quarterly executive reviews where we present the data our SMP has discovered. Based on those takeaways, we facilitate conversations about the best paths forward and any other actions that need to be taken to better align apps and costs with business goals. Additionally, we’ve been able to automate redundant tasks by creating workflows for everyday tasks like onboarding or offboarding -- saving our team’s time to focus on priority projects that provide more strategic value to the business.

There Will Always Be a New Challenge

Technology isn’t static. Staying attuned to tech advances is critical. Navigating the changing landscape and how innovations can be used to support business growth is what makes this profession so exciting.

The future is ripe for IT to take things to the next level. With the right tools, insights from the past and the present, and leadership support, IT teams can continue to deliver even greater value to their organizations, while balancing the many priorities that fall on their desks.

About the Author(s)

Tom Beohm

VP of IT, CD Baby

Tom Beohm serves as the VP of IT at CD Baby, one of the most trusted names in the music business. Tom’s mission is to empower IT to be more than a utility: a trusted partner. Tom’s career spans the tech support front line, systems architecture, leading major infrastructure projects and cybersecurity crises, and reskilling disadvantaged adults into careers in IT for big-name technology companies to non-profits. When not working alongside his teams, Tom’s exploring the hiking trails of the Pacific Northwest, enjoying a glass of craft ale, riffing on the bass, or relaxing with his family

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