Technology Intelligence: The future of ITAM
This article “Technology Intelligence: The Future of ITAM” was written by Rich Gibbons, ITAM Review, and Becky Trevino, Executive Vice President Product, at Snow Software.
It’s 2022 and the role of IT, as well as the impact it has within a business, has changed. Today, IT is less about prevention and protection and more about enablement and guidance – helping businesses grow, thrive, and innovate. Alongside this, ITAM also needs to change; it must identify how it can empower its business and support stakeholders and leadership teams to succeed in their goals. The future of ITAM is now.
As part of this shift, more organizations are moving away from a traditional centralized IT system and business units or departments are often responsible for acquiring much of their own hardware, software, SaaS and cloud services. This means that effective ITAM is, in many ways, a shared responsibility across an organization.
While license compliance and audit defense are important, they aren’t always seen as strategic.
Strategic areas where ITAM can contribute to the business include:
- Helping cloud deployments of new systems launch on time
- Freeing up budget to increase investments in customer acquisition
- Optimising cloud spend to accelerate ROI
- Enhancing the user experience to increase employee retention and satisfaction
According to the Snow Software 2022 IT Priorities Report, 89% of IT leaders say that many of the IT roles that were undervalued pre-COVID are now viewed as essential. This is a real opportunity for ITAM when considering how to elevate programs to demonstrate value and identify new areas of growth. Despite the need to adapt to industry shifts, helping identify, monitor, and manage IT investments still remains a critical part of what ITAM does. These activities may include license optimization, audit defense, contract negotiation, software harvesting, hardware refresh cycles and more.
The report also found that 92% of IT leaders say they have increased accountability for the financial impact of their IT investments. Greater accountability for IT leaders means greater visibility for ITAM. Use this as an opportunity to speak to the leadership team and explain how you can help them achieve their goals. Help them understand that a strong, well-resourced, and centrally supported ITAM team will help other parts of the business grow and improve too – a rising tide lifts all ships.
Perhaps related to the additional financial accountability they are experiencing, 83% of IT leaders indicated that they needed new processes and teams to manage new and emerging technologies.
Creating a new team from the ground up can be a significant investment for a business. From attracting and interviewing candidates, onboarding them and training them will cost money as well as time, potentially making existing staff less productive during the process as they help new team members get up to speed. However, building on an existing solid foundation is quicker, easier, and cheaper – this is another opportunity for ITAM to add resources to their organization who can serve as experts in these new and emerging technologies.
Identify and install your team of the future by expanding the purview of existing employees who already manage a range of technologies. Give them a mandate to apply their existing knowledge of processes to new areas such as public cloud, containers, Internet of Things, open-source software and more to find commonality. There will still likely be additional ongoing training involved become well versed in these new technologies from features and functionality to analytics and billing and licensing terms.
Where should you focus?
Snow have developed a three-part framework to help ITAM professionals determine where they should spend their time as they advance into the future of ITAM. They divide assets into three categories:
These are assets that your organization is already using or planning to use. They may include infrastructure devices, end-user devices, packaged software, mobile devices, and virtual machines.
This category includes your cloud assets, SaaS services, and containers. Although the move toward the cloud has been happening for many years, most enterprise workloads still live in the datacentre. The space will continue to evolve as organizations develop more mature cloud strategies and slowly migrate their central IT workloads.
The next transition in the cloud space will be moving workloads away from virtual machines to containers. As more end-users and business units adopt containers, ITAM and SAM professionals will need to create governance around them.
Extremely mature and innovative ITAM and SAM programs are already looking into tracking newer technologies like IoT devices, APIs, and even internally developed apps. Putting governance around these assets can give your organization an edge when some of these technologies move into the evolving and mainstream categories.
For many ITAM and SAM professionals, it is the “evolving” area that offers the greatest potential for growth and enhanced internal focus. SaaS management offers a great opportunity to reduce costs and risks quickly; typically within 12 months which compares very favourably to on-premises contracts that renew every 3 – 5 years. Furthermore, effective SaaS management is critical for governing a hybrid workforce and supporting business-led IT models, two important new executive objectives.
If you want to grow your ITAM or SAM practice and you are not managing SaaS, include SaaS management as part of your 12-month ITAM roadmap. If SaaS is already in hand, turn your attention to how IaaS & PaaS assets in public cloud environments such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS are managed in your organization.
Here savings can be realized in days if not hours and, with the continued growth of cloud usage – setting good, strong governance can offer real long-term benefits to your organization. If IaaS & PaaS are being managed by FinOps, build a strategic partnership with this team to create a holistic view of on-premises and cloud assets across the enterprise. If IaaS & PaaS are not actively being managed, this is a critical opportunity for your ITAM team to partner with key Business Units consuming cloud to drive a balance between governance and agility. Whichever way you look at it, cloud is part of the future of ITAM.
Focus on business metrics, not ITAM metrics
When looking to elevate ITAM’s role within an organization, focus on how your actions will help the business be more successful. That could mean reducing overall spending, enhancing the customer experience, migrating workloads to the cloud, minimizing security risks, creating efficiencies, among other things. Whatever strategic goals you focus on, you’ll help make the business more likely to help you.
The way ITAM communicates with the business should be refreshed, too. More than 70% of IT leaders say that data is overwhelming them. Consider this issue when communicating with them. Look for opportunities to emphasize the following in your communication with IT leaders and even other members of the C-suite:
- How your ITAM program will help them achieve their goals
- How much the program will cost and the potential ROI (Return On Investment)
- What resources will be required for success
- Estimated delivery timeline
- What success looks like at each stage of the plan
Effectively, you need to learn a new “executive” language. The outcomes that demonstrate your success will vary but can include:
- Cost savings that elevate innovation funding for ITAM
- Enhanced communication and collaboration between ITAM and senior leadership
- A strategic, rather than tactical, approach to ITAM projects
- A seat at the table on organization-wide projects
Having a process/timeline can help to keep you, and your stakeholders, on track:
The future of ITAM involves disruption and while uncomfortable, this series of changes brings significant opportunity. Consider the paradigm shift caused by COVID-19, global supply chain issues, and increasing economic uncertainty as a springboard to refresh how ITAM is perceived throughout your business.
The cloud is here to stay. The advice Snow is giving their customers is to build a strategic ITAM roadmap strategy that gives you deeper insights into your cloud costs and usage while continuing to support key on-premises technology. By having an understanding of both cloud and on-premises technologies, customers are able to negotiate for better contract terms, lower operating expenses, and boost organizational-wide efficiencies. Demonstrate how ITAM can strengthen and improve areas across the organization including, but not limited to:
- Financial management
- Security posture
- Cloud management and optimization
- Digital transformation
Creating a modern enterprise, in any industry, requires a well-resourced ITAM team empowered to work with stakeholders and leadership to achieve collective goals faster, with less financial waste and increased spend efficiency. Make sure you seize your opportunity to reimagine ITAM and take it to the next level.
To learn more about the Future of ITAM, join us for our new 1 day conference “Wisdom Unplugged” in London on September 20, 2022. More details and register here.
About Rich Gibbons
A Northerner renowned for his shirts, Rich is a big Hip-Hop head, and loves travel, football in general (specifically MUFC), baseball, Marvel, and reading as many books as possible. Finding ways to combine all of these with ITAM & software licensing is always fun!
Connect with Rich on Twitter or LinkedIn.