This article has been contributed by David Foxen, a Software Asset Manager in the UK
Note: For the relevance of the article it is important to note that David is aged 23.
When a teacher asks their students what they want to be when they grow up, students will usually say footballer, movie star, race car driver. These expectations of what the future holds become more realistic as students get older, but the answer is never ‘I want to work in Software Asset Management’.
SAM and ITAM are currently overlooked within the GCSE/A-Level Business Studies or ICT curriculum in the UK, despite being an important area of a business. This begs the question: Without being made aware of SAM, where is the next breed of SAM Professionals going to come from?
The current answer would have to be ‘by accident’. Before I started working I had never heard of software asset management. I studied Business Studies and IT from the age of 14 at school, but the concept of a computer or the software being an ‘asset’ that needed to be ‘managed’ was never taught to us, let alone the fact you need license to use software! I’m sure the majority of the SAM professionals reading this now didn’t know what SAM was before they started working in a professional environment.
This needs to be addressed. SAM is a fantastic sector to be involved in, with a wide range of career choices available. It’s also an important area for organisations, so should be taught at school level. All I’m asking for is a chapter in a book or a module on the curriculum that is dedicated to ITAM and SAM, just so students interested in Business or IT are made aware that there is more to these subjects than motherboards, graphics cards, profit margins and the marketing mix!
The emergence of SAM is a recent one, I understand that. The importance of SAM is only going to increase over the few years and there are a number of changes afoot with how software will be licensed in the future. Exam boards are constantly updating their course material to incorporate new business or IT methods, so why not add a section covering ITAM and SAM? A simple chapter in a text book may spark a student’s interest in the subject, and may result in them deciding that a career in SAM is the path they want to follow.
Another rather obvious point to make is that organisations need to promote SAM more. For an organisation to be in a position to promote SAM to young people they need to understand the importance of SAM and the benefits a solid SAM estate can bring them. The majority or organisations are not in a position to do this, as they don’t take SAM seriously themselves. We can see this is the case simply by looking at the latest software audit news. Organisations are still being found to have a very basic, or non-existent, SAM structure in place. Organisations that do take SAM seriously could look at promoting SAM both internally and externally. Work experience would be a good example of giving a student or young professional the chance to see how SAM works on a day-to-day basis, as well as getting an overall scope of what SAM entails.
It is hard to attract young professionals to SAM. Personally, I haven’t worked with anyone in SAM that is around my age. When I have told people what I do, they seem surprised to see someone my age in the sector. This article is not about me being ageist, it’s simply highlighting the fact that there doesn’t appear to be a new crop of SAM professionals coming through. Saying that, I don’t mind holding down the global fort for young SAM professionals!
In conclusion, I think SAM should be touched upon in schools. Young people and young professionals need to be aware that there is this career path to go down. There should be a focus on promoting SAM to young professionals to try and persuade them to consider SAM as the right career choice for them. I go back to my original question. Where will the next breed of SAM professionals come from if SAM is not promoted to young professionals, or taught in schools or colleges? I was lucky. I was told about SAM and found that it was the career path that I wanted to go down.
Once you get to know and understand the fundamentals of SAM, what you can achieve for an organisation and the career progression within the SAM sector, you start to understand that SAM is extremely interesting and cool! Ah, come on! It is! We just need to highlight this fact to the future generation.
This article has been contributed by David Foxen (aged 23) a Software Asset Manager in the UK.