As IT spending shifts to the cloud, ITAM must evolve. In this article we explore the implications for ITAM of the main findings from Flexera’s 2022 Tech Spend Pulse, where the top priorities for technology initiatives continue to focus on digital transformation, cybersecurity and cloud/cloud migration. These shouldn’t come as a surprise to any of us, as we saw these same top three priorities in 2021 too.
IT asset management (ITAM) is of course aware of the assets that make up the IT estate and being digitized in this transformation, as well as the implications of adjusting to the changing ecosystem of technology—whether that’s software licensing, application dependencies or a host of other contextual elements. Desktops changing to laptops, moving from on-premises servers toward cloud storage. Business value and growth are important factors that ITAM has the data points to influence.
That’s why ITAM should be involved as early as possible and will need to expand the scope of what’s considered an asset. Don’t wait to get pulled in after-the-fact only to find out that licensing implications don’t allow you to effectively make moves, or worse that they drive up cost to the organization in unexpected ways and contribute significantly to wasted spend for the business that falls on the ITAM group.
With the shift toward increased work-from-home policies due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen that managing IT assets has become more complex. For example, instead of having hardware asset management (HAM, e.g., device management) centred at a few corporate locations or offices, now there are assets in thousands of separate and individual office spaces. How will ITAM keep track when those devices are not all on the corporate network at all times? How do you see, inventory, and protect them?
Another major digital shift has been the increased adoption of SaaS in response to both the pandemic and changing IT ecosystem. More devices in more places with more software that can be purchased in more ways. Adaptation is necessary for success in this changing environment, but the key is to do so strategically.
The vast majority of respondents to Flexera’s 2022 Tech Spend Pulse expected an increase (whether slight or significant) to their IT budgets in the coming year (64 percent). With this increase, visibility within the organization of the ITAM function will also increase, as well as the importance of tracking technology and limiting waste.
ITAM has traditionally been focused on cost reduction, so this is no surprise. But another way to look at this in a rapidly changing environment is through the lens of spend efficiency—getting the most out of your technology and maximizing return on investment. If your business increased your budget, this is ITAM’s chance to avoid duplication and overlap by highlighting through ITAM practices (e.g., application rationalization, license usage/consumption) where there are opportunities to optimize those technology investments.
This is also where ITAM’s response to the digital shift matters; movement away from investments like datacentres and on-premises software is expected at higher rates (27 percent budget decrease on each) while investment into public cloud and SaaS is expected to continue to increase rapidly (59 percent and 69 percent, respectively). ITAM practitioners have a role in this change and effectively managing it.
Although usage of on-premises servers and storage, for example, are going down, they’ll likely never go away; there will likely always be a need for some degree of datacentre on location due to security, regulation, intellectual property, or other liabilities. But the need to adapt and expand is critical.
By showing the business what you can do—i.e., adapting to a changing landscape—you’re making the business case that with more resources (FTEs, budget) you can better support the change the organization is going through. For example, as digital transformation continues to accelerate, most organizations (65 percent) still struggle getting a view into their technology assets across the hybrid IT estate, and even more are lacking the spend data to understand impact (70 percent).
Capitalize on the opportunity for ITAM to provide the data that fuels business strategy in a rapidly adapting organization. ITAM can provide traditional asset views of on-premises inventory and more asset management teams are taking on SaaS in the hybrid environment, which allows collaboration with their cloud counterparts (cloud centre of excellence, FinOps, etc.) to align. Talk to your stakeholders about how your investments and vendors overlap. If you’re one of the 65 percent without visibility, this is the chance to put that data under the purview of a single team—in this case, ITAM—that brings strategy to the table.
As we head into 2023, we see the shift from on-premises software to SaaS, and from on-premises datacentres to the cloud, continues to be the trend—but at the end of the day, people and services are the foundation of what makes IT run the organization.
ITAM is clearly involved in all the areas of IT—it’s in the acronym—but as the function is spread into new and evolving technology (and overlaps due to vendors like Microsoft that deliver across on-premises, SaaS, and the cloud), the need to highlight their impact is even more important.
Bolster your internal messaging around headcount and budget by getting a handle on your vendors (spend efficiency), identify areas of opportunity by leveraging the data you have through a unified view of your assets, their dependencies, and their effect on the delivery of your business to customers. ITAM is the key to maximizing technology investment, and adaptation to these changes is key to success in building out your function for the future.