Are ITAM tools vendors suffering from Shiny Penny Syndrome? With all the hype around big trends like FinOps and sustainability, can you blame software vendors for seeking to align their products with the latest trend? Are they wrong to look ahead to the next challenge?
It’s a double-edged sword. Do ITAM tools vendors spend too much time talking about/developing the next big thing at the expense of their core product? Are they neglecting their core audit defence/license optimisation features in order to chase the latest buzzword? Are the two even mutually exclusive? Can they do both?
Or, as a user of their products, do you think it is important they share their development pipeline with you and keep you informed of their plans for emerging trends like FinOps? For some users, their tools vendor might be the first place they hear about these emerging trends (to which we ask, why aren’t they reading the ITAM Review?). But for that group, surely it’s important for vendors to talk about the next big thing?
This question created a healthy debate when one of the delegates proposed it during the “Sponsors vs. Delegates” session at Wisdom EMEA 2023. We felt it needed delving into a little bit more, so we put out a straw poll on our LinkedIn page. The results might surprise you.
This poll is by no means conclusive, but the findings are no less interesting.
As you can see, half of those polled agree that ITAM tools vendors focus too much on the next big thing (e.g. FinOps) at the expense of core SAM functionality and that it is a problem, while 27% agree they do it, but that it’s not a problem.
Perhaps the bigger finding is that the majority (77%) agree that vendors focus too much on the next big thing at the expense of core SAM functionality. Only 23% feel they have the right balance. Should vendors take note of this? There could be many reasons for this; after all, perception isn’t always reality. This could be the result of vendors genuinely taking the wrong approach with their product development, or simply this is a perception caused by marketing, which has a tendency to focus on the biggest buzzwords of the day for maximum impact. Marketing and product focuses are rarely the same thing and it’s hard to untangle the two.
Some comments on the LinkedIn post:
Nadia Canale, Senior Service Management Manager from Dyson agreed with the premise of the question, but pointed out that it differs between vendors. “I agree. A great question from the panel session 👍 It depends who the vendor is. Our vendor has the balance right which makes them more than just a tool vendor but our SAM partner too. However, if they didn’t support us with the core functions it would be a problem.”
Lauren Smith, SAM manager at Mizuho, who was the person who originally posed the question at Wisdom wrote the following; “In some cases organisations who have reasons for not being able to go cloud or SaaS are being left with unpatched, end of support solutions because the vendors have gone down this route and have no interest in sustaining the traditional products, which is not only an issue for SAM but also having an impact in the security space.”
Lauren is onto something, and is clearly speaking from personal experience. She will not be alone. Not every organisation is, or can, move to the cloud, so “traditional SAM” should not be neglected. While the tier 1 software publishers might be encouraging/gently suggesting/forcing their userbase to migrate to their respective cloud offerings, there are plenty of on-premises estates that still need to he managed, and will need to be managed for the foreseeable future. Audits remain an almost exclusively on-prem problem – and protecting against them remains the primary driver for most SAM tool purchases – so SAM tools vendors should think twice about neglecting the strength of their core offerings at the expense of building something to support the latest trend.
Daniel Fink from USU responded to the LinkedIn post, suggesting that following new tends is important, but should not be at the expense of core functionality; “This question was the best one in the session! Of course, new trends are essential and help to get awareness, but the core SAM functionalities are crucial! It’s like a football player! A World Cup win helps a lot, but the player can’t do it without the basics – like dribbling the ball! A modern and functional SAM is the start for all new topics!”
We would like to know what the rest of the industry thinks about this, so we are extending the question to ITAM / SAM tools vendor for a follow up article. Vendors, it’s over to you.
As a vendor, do you feel you are driven by the demands of your users, or is there a need to chase the latest trend? How do you strike the right balance? What are the risks in either approach? And do you think these results of this poll paint a fair picture?