Why ITAM can aid IT-fuelled business recovery

by Jeremy

Over the past decade, IT asset management (ITAM) has been slowly increasing its influence. Apart from the people in finance, few senior business executives lose sleep over IT assets. Still, they are deeply concerned if a critical system fails to bring down the business or if there is a significant security breach. IT asset management used to be considered the back-office, operationally-focused team that simply “counted computers”. The ITAM Forum claims that ITAM has progressed and has pulled itself out of the basement and up to the more senior levels of the business.ITAM

According to research conducted by the ITAM Review, 37% of ITAM practitioners reported to the C-suite in 2018, compared with 45% reporting to the more operationally focused IT service management in 2011.

“Cost savings are typically the main justification for a strong ITAM function,” Martin Thompson, founder of the ITAM Forum, said. “If you consider that roughly a third of software is wasted or unused, regardless of whether it is desktop software, software-as-a-service [SaaS] subscriptions or cloud infrastructure, the cost savings from ITAM alone justify its existence.”

Given that SaaS applications are booming, Thompson said that ITAM enables organizations to look at what they spend the most on, measure actual usage, and discover who is using SaaS products.

According to Thompson, this becomes increasingly important as regular business practices resume post-Covid-19, who added that “ITAM has a role to play post-pandemic”.

In terms of cutting costs and license optimization, compliance with software agreements is why many ITAM projects are started. In Thompson’s experience, a sound ITAM strategy avoids a costly and disruptive software publisher audit.

At the same time, as organizations look at making the best use of existing licenses, software publishers are looking at the post-pandemic opportunities to sell more software. Analyst house Gartner recently discussed how the pandemic had put IT leaders in a strong position to progress their IT strategies.

The industry also recognizes this, and among the tools at its disposal is to target existing customers with audits to check that they are not under-licensed. “Audits are still there,” Thompson said. “But it is more speculative and, in some parts of the world, the number of audits is growing.”

He said that software license compliance is an obvious benefit of good ITAM. Still, management’s perceived value often decreases after two or three years of successfully avoiding bad audit results.

Thompson said that risk management is another significant benefit of good ITAM, but the categories used are typically different. Risks include financial risk, such as when the organization faces a fine for running unlicensed or pirated software; operational risk; regulatory compliance risk; and reputational risk. Thompson said that ITAM also feeds into cyber security and has a role in helping organizations meet their sustainability objectives.

According to Thompson, a significant business benefit for ITAM in the 2020s will be business agility. “The better the visibility of what you have, where it’s located, how it’s configured, and how it’s being used, the faster you can change, and the more quickly a business can transform,” he said.

This is where ITAM fits in with the digital transformation strategy. Budgets are limited, and business leaders recognize the importance of streamlining operations. ITAM provides organizations with an understanding of the products they have deployed and whether unused licenses or spare Lt capacity can be utilized.

With this knowledge, Thompson said ITAM could help procurement teams buy the right things to empower innovation and business transformation. “Visibility of adopting new technology through ITAM-generated usage data ensures that the investment made delivers on its ROI [return on investment] forecast,” he added.

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