Data governance, digital transformation driving ITAM strategies

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In the last few years, business priorities have started to move away from cost cutting and cost control towards growth and improved profitability. As a result, IT asset management (ITAM) information is being used not simply to identify compliance issues and cost savings, but to pinpoint opportunities to drive value, whether through leveraging existing assets or understanding the opportunities presented by new technologies.

While compliance and cost optimization are still relevant, they are essentially by-products of effective ITAM for organizations focused on growth and innovation. The key to the success of ITAM both now and in the future lies in the value it offers the business through insights into all its technology investments.

Digital Transformation Drives Adoption and Maturity

Every organization is now dependent on digital technology for almost everything it does. As a result, ITAM information is critical not just to the running of IT, but to making business decisions as well.

However, we’re also having to maintain ITAM differently – while IoT device proliferation is driving a return to hardware asset management, the consumerization of digital technology is lowering the cost of IT. Therefore, it forces a reassessment of the reasons for managing assets. It’s no longer about the cost of the asset, or about the asset class, but about the valuable information that the asset contains or provides access to.

Organizations with relatively mature ITAM capabilities are using ITAM data to support their technology strategy, which in turn supports their business strategy. As stakeholders become aware of the data that is available, they are keen to use both the data and the insights it provides to support their activities and help them make data-driven decisions.

Common examples of this include:

  • Application rationalization – understanding what’s actually being used, by whom and what value it creates
  • Cloud shift – how systems are being used and how the costs compare between on-premises and cloud, or between cloud provider offerings
  • Technology migrations – upgrading OS, moving to SaaS applications or changing from one technology provider to another (e.g. Microsoft 365 to Google) can be planned to use ITAM data to ensure appropriate provisioning and minimize business disruption
  • Rightsizing contracts – utilization data facilitates purchasing the correct products on the correct license model in the correct volumes at the correct price
  • Making investments based on business value derived from technology assets by linking technology to business outcomes

ITAM as a Governance Function

While ITAM moves from being an administrative activity to a governance function, it’s governance framework and the insights provided by ITAM data enable business units to source technology-based solutions effectively without being categorized as ‘shadow IT’ or ‘IT bypass.’

As organizations are focused on the value they drive from their investments rather than simply looking at costs, ITAM data must connect technology, business process and value. Detailed asset data is providing business unit stakeholders with a clearer understanding of IT services and the associated cost. Increased transparency is building trust between IT and the business.

ITAM as a Strategic Initiative

Industry data shows that the number of stakeholders involved in decision-making around technology investment has risen: according to a recent IDG study, the average buying committee now includes 21 influencers. Many of these decisions are being led from outside IT or even made without IT involvement. This is not necessarily due to deliberate IT or procurement bypass, but more to the fact that digital technology is all pervasive.

While it can be difficult for IT directors to understand how sales wouldn’t see a CRM system as an IT solution, it is easier to understand how the purchase of plant or machinery in manufacturing would be considered a ‘business unit’ purchase. However, it may still involve a significant amount of IT (primarily software, but in many cases hardware as well) which is not necessarily the primary consideration when sourcing the solution to a business need.

Once IT professionals accept that digital business means that digital technology is all-pervasive and not the exclusive domain of IT, then ITAM’s role in the organization is no longer only restricted to ‘IT.’ Rather, it opens up to enable the effective management of all digital assets, regardless of where in the organization they are situated and who procures, owns, manages or interacts with them.

As such, ITAM needs to break out of the constraints historically placed on it as an administrative IT function and embrace its role as a technology guardian, becoming a business enabler, providing IT decision-makers and business stakeholders with transparency into their technology investments and allowing them to make effective business decisions about the way they use those technologies to drive value from their business assets.

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