Ahead of the Gartner IT Financial, Procurement & Asset Management Summit 2013, 11-12 September in London, Gartner research vice president Stewart Buchanan explains how organisations need better IT asset management controls to prevent unexpected costs outweighing the benefits of new ways of using IT.
Everyone who buys or budgets for IT needs to understand how growing business demand for cloud, information, social and mobile technologies, which are the converging and mutually reinforcing social, cultural and technological factors Gartner has identified as the Nexus of Forces — cloud, mobility, social and information — are driving a radical power shift away from the enterprise and toward the individual), risks an explosion of IT costs.
Nexus forces are critical to growth and prosperity, so simply saying “no” to trends such as the Internet of Things and “bring your own device” isn’t the answer. Organisations need to get in control and stay in control of investments in new areas, if they are to prosper.
Whether leased, purchased as a service or brought into work by users, hardware assets are increasingly owned by someone else. But IT asset management (ITAM) professionals still need to exercise control over these assets for reasons including security, support, fiduciary, financial and fiscal responsibilities.
Organisations that fail to implement proper controls risk being overwhelmed by unplanned and unbudgeted costs that outweigh business benefits, for a number of reasons. Below we describe some of these.
Collaborative services and social media lead to more complex relationships between an organisation and its external users, and these users cannot always be licensed by the organisation in the same way as its internal users. In addition, sharing analysed data can entail significant licensing costs, which are missed by basic inventory checks.
ITAM managers need to build a lifecycle TCO plan for each IT service and project to identify costs and plan controls to manage them. They also need to review and update controls that limit IT software costs as part of the IT change management process.
Organisations can use access controls to limit access to data and applications. When all end users are customers or third parties, they may not be the right people to ask to buy licences. Controls are required to provision access and, in the event of customer access, the business may choose to buy licences automatically, rather than prevent or delay connections.
IT asset managers must implement controls that limit the organisation’s exposure to cost, and review these controls whenever a version or other IT change occurs that might trigger additional costs.
Additionally, when demand for business-enabling IT exceeds IT budgets, organisations risk their traditional IT cost management controls being bypassed.
When end users download apps from app stores, they often see the cost shown as “free” because no charge is made to their account. However, as soon as such an app is connected to a corporate server, the IT organisation may have to buy a client licence. Access controls are required to flag up and prevent unlicensed connection attempts until they have been licensed.
Other costs can arise from many app store vendor licence agreements covering private or “personal” use only, leaving organisations potentially exposed to licensing fees for commercial business use. Controls are needed that identify not only the users but also the devices that are used to access corporate systems. These controls may be needed for security in addition to asset cost management.
It is critical that ITAM managers implement new controls in order to prevent business spending that creates unforeseen IT cost liabilities without additional funding.
Enterprise controls must adapt to the Nexus of Forces that is driving change. New agreements will bring with them new control challenges, but one thing is certain — ITAM controls need to go beyond counting physical devices and software installations in order to continue controlling access to increasingly intangible assets.
Attending the Gartner IT Financial, Procurement & Asset Management Summit 2013, 11-12 September in London? Catch Stewart on Wednesday 11th September at 09:00am BST where he will discuss how to devise strategies that stop costs escalating.