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I believe the IT asset management (ITAM) and software asset management (SAM) community can be empowered to deliver truly valuable services to organisations around the world by addressing these challenges head on. To that end, I propose a set of five principles, or tenets, which I call #QualityITAM, the industry should pursue.
1. Value ITAM: I’m a strong believer that above all, any ITAM investment must deliver value. A piece of “soulless” effective licence position (ELP) reporting delivers no value; neither does a piece of generic advice that is not actionable.
Licensing experts should go beyond delivering just findings and instead provide actionable advice that is aligned to a business’s priorities and realities. I believe that only when we work with our stakeholders or clients to influence change, the value of ITAM and SAM can truly be realised.
2. Fair ITAM: Service providers should focus on cultivating strategic and long-term relationships instead of short-term gains. Service costs should always be aligned with the value we deliver instead of demand-driven.
We should be constantly innovating on more efficient service delivery methods and investing in technology automation, so that we can increase our clients’ ROI without compromising our quality principle, and expand ITAM’s reach to smaller businesses that are historically “priced out” of the market.
3. Supportive ITAM: Data availability is possibly the biggest risk factor in any ITAM or SAM programme. We should closely collaborate with the relevant internal teams of an organisation and understand their needs or challenges in retrieving complete and accurate data, whether caused by technical barriers or resource constraints. Our industry needs to keep innovating on more efficient and non-intrusive methods of data collection to support data quality and completeness.
In addition, the nature of SAM produces tremendous amounts of valuable structured data. We should be generous in searching out all possible uses of this data to support finance, security or any other team in an organisation.
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4. Trusted ITAM: Businesses need to be able to trust our numbers. Important business and technology decisions will be made based on our work in ITAM and therefore, it should be our absolute priority to ensure we as an industry deliver accurate, complete audit-proof information.
“Computer says so” simply shouldn’t be enough to satisfy our trained eyes. To build and retain stakeholders trust in our work, we as an industry need to be relentlessly focused on quality and make sure there is no place in the market for untrustworthy actors – independent assessments and industry certification can well be a worthy start.
5. Sustainable ITAM: ITAM and SAM can be a valuable business function, but in its current form it only gets the love it deserves. We are in a vicious cycle of falling service costs and diminishing quality. We need to start changing the paradigm and perception of ITAM and make it a sustainable value-add to business.
I therefore advocate a strategic and sponsored approach towards ITAM investment designed with strong governance in mind. In my experience, tactical SAM activities driven by licence audit or renewal pains are valuable, but usually unsustainable. We should understand that ITAM can only be sustainable when people, skills, technology and processes are unified under a stakeholder-endorsed governance framework.
Change is never easy, but broken ITAM is no longer affordable, if it ever was. I’m certain that I’m not alone in recognising our industry’s challenges, and hope the particular issues I spelled out will echo with my colleagues in the ITAM and SAM community.
While #QualityITAM reflects my years of experience working with ITAM and SAM, and many of my strong beliefs, it’s certainly far from complete, nor is it perfect. However, even if this creates only a baseline for wider and more in-depth debates, I believe we’re one step closer to a successful change in our industry.
After all, the recognition of a problem is the first step in solving it, so together I believe we can make ITAM and SAM a truly powerful value proposition to all businesses worldwide.