The ITAM Review

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ITAM and the career path to CIO


The career path to CIO: “Think about value added decisions that can be made as a result of ITAM data – where else in the enterprise might the data we’re discovering allow the business to make smarter choices?”

Back in March of last year I wrote of the Skills and Experience required for the ITAM profession.

I talked about the key qualities of ITAM professionals such as analytics, licensing and contract smarts, industrious work ethic and the ability to consult and engage with the business.

A year on and the market continues to expand and evolve at eye-watering pace.  At ITAMS we’re seeing growth in the market, increased interest in ITAM and expansion in our own business both to meet increasing demand and also help plug the gap with the overall shortage of skills in the industry. It is an exciting time to be in this industry and provides the opportunity for both rewarding and highly paid careers.

My key observations in 2014:

  1. The penny is dropping in large enterprises with companies investing in full time long term ITAM staff. This is pushing up wages; As Victoria Barber from Gartner states ‘the significant growth in SAM investment in recent years has meant a huge demand for experienced SAM resources from a limited pool of experienced professionals.’
  2. As Martin’s recent salary survey highlighted there is increasing demand for the different nuances of the ITAM role in the next 12 months, ITAM staff now come in different flavours and licensing and SAM expertise are in high demand.
  3. The business value of ITAM is being taken more seriously and is beginning to be viewed holistically within the whole service delivery model rather than a tactical project.

We’ve conducted our own internal research on the SAM market, and we are seeing that the demand for permanent roles is outstripping the demand for contractors. Due to the limited number of SAM experts out there, organisations want permanent employees to support the program long-term, rather than hiring a contractor. It’s an on-going, long-term process, so why would you only have someone that has the knowledge and experience for 3 – 6 months?

The career path to CIO

As ITAM grows in importance so do the career openings and opportunities within IT. As with any career path, ITAM professionals face the choice of taking a more ‘managing people’ or ‘specialist expertise’ routes with their career.

Similarly, as ITAM grows from being a back office compliance role to a forward thinking decision support and business intelligence function ITAM professionals can take steps towards roles that help steer the IT departments path. For example, a good progressive step for an IT Asset Manager would be into IT Governance or Technology Strategy  – which is only one step away from the CIO.

For budding ITAM career professionals my advice would be:

  • Pick up some formal qualifications and certifications to give you a broad view of industry best practices such as IAITAM and ITIL foundation
  • Always be looking for opportunities to focus on business impact, business relevance and the actual services that IT components are delivering
  • Think about value added decisions that can be made as a result of ITAM data – where else in the enterprise might the data we’re discovering allow the business to make smarter choices?

That’s my take; it would be great to hear your views.

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About Paul Sheehan

Paul is co-founder of IT Asset Management Solutions (ITAMS) and heads up the consulting team and delivery operation. With over 25 years of industry experience, he takes an active role as Managing Consultant and strategic advisor to the company’s medium to large clients.

In recent years he has been instrumental in developing and delivering tailored managed services for licence management in collaboration with enterprise clients.


  1. Great contribution Paul, thank you. ITAM doesn’t need to be some back office function counting licenses – but helping the business make quick decisions.

  2. Rory Canavan says:

    Hi Paul, cogent observations – one and all; equally, I would be interested to hear from those CIOs who have surpassed the SAM ceiling. Do you know any who would be prepared to offer the benefit of their experience?

  3. Speaking of CIO’s the one thing that makes them listen is highlighting consumption and financial commitments of software licenses. There is much ado in the industry about licensing tools, licensing knowledge and best practice processes etc but the one area that I have seen a lack of ‘delivery’ in is reporting capabilities. A simple report aimed at CIO level explaining in clear terms what financial risks and commitments are speaks volumes and raises the profile of ITAM.

  4. Tim Stacy says:

    Great to finally hear! I believe SAM represents a nice niche and the salary should continue to rise. I encourage others to own the software budget in their organization and stay close to Finance and procurement/ sourcing… You manage millions of dollars and your salary should reflect this fact.

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