ITAM & AI, FinOps, Containers, ESG, security: The many ways in which ITAM has matured beyond its roots

27 March 2024
6 minute read

ITAM & AI, FinOps, Containers, ESG, security: The many ways in which ITAM has matured beyond its roots

27 March 2024
6 minute read

ITAM, AI, FinOps, Containers, ESG, security…

Back in January I wrote about my picks from the agenda for Wisdom NA 2024. Building up to the event I also interviewed Eva Louis about the intricacy of IT and business relationships, and spoke with Matt Graves about how GCI has leveraged generative AI. These conversations gave a great overview of their upcoming sessions, which were both really well received by the audience last week. But standing back a little, both conversations, along with the hundreds of lively debates that took place at Wisdom NA last week, they begin to paint a picture of an ITAM industry that has matured far beyond its origins in compliance and cost optimisation.

After the event I had the opportunity to catch up with Ryan and Martin to get a sense of their main take-aways from the packed two days as a result of their conversations with delegates during their sessions and around the event. The following is a summary of their main take-aways from Florida which add even more colour to the picture of an ITAM industry which continues to evolve and deliver more value than ever.

AI was a common thread in almost every conversation

While AI was a common talking point, Ryan was keen to stress that it’s still very much early days for AI in the world of ITAM. “I got a sense that not many of our attendees have had much exposure outside of the casual use of ChatGPT and/or Microsoft Co-Pilot so far. While there are many potential use cases for AI in ITAM, organizations have not prioritized AI efforts for ITAM yet.”

With that being said, some of the tools and service providers have started to include AI within their offerings, such as Snow Copilot and Ask Torii. However, it’s yet to be seen if these first offerings are transformative for the world of ITAM just yet. “IT Asset Managers need to start to understand the ‘art of the possible’ with AI in the context of ITAM, and work to co-collaborate on truly transformative ITAM capabilities to meet the impending demand of the business as it’s likely the most realistic path forward to AI adoption for ITAM.”

FinOps and ITAM convergence is inevitable

Asset Managers need to up-skill in the world of cloud and redefine what asset management means. FinOps Foundation also updated their framework last week during Wisdom, and we were lucky enough to have Ron Brill their to discuss these updates. “What stood out to me about these updates was the inclusion of Licensing & SaaS as a new capability under the domain of Optimize Cloud Usage & Cost, which is coupled by the capability of Intersecting Disciplines under the Manage the FinOps Practice Domain,” said Ryan.For a deeper explanation of how the FinOps Foundation defines its Domains and Capabilities, see our recent article FinOps Framework updated to include new Licensing & SaaS capability.

“Both of these items have a major emphasis on ITAM, and specifically use cases for BYOL and SaaS Management. In my experience, many of the IT Asset Managers are left as outliers of a FinOps practice and have little engagement with FinOps. However, with the increased call for SaaS Management of FinOps I think we’re going to start to see a power struggle in organizations. ITAM managers have largely taken on the responsibility for SaaS Management, and there looks to be a push for that to be rolled under the FinOps discipline.”

Commenting on the addition of Licensing & SaaS into the FinOps Framework, Martin stated “I sense there’s still some uncertainty from the ITAM professional about where FinOps sits that we need to address, but otherwise it’s a good positive move with its links into licensing for example.”

Couple this with the Gartner prediction that “by 2025, 50% of organizations will unify SAM and FinOps into a consolidated discipline delivering portfolio cost management and governance,”1 and many asset managers are going to start to fill threatened, and have their value questioned. However, Ryan says they shouldn’t fear this, they should embrace it. “Take ownership of a new opportunity to leverage the momentum FinOps has garnered, and up-skill themselves in the world of Cloud and then redefine asset management as the holistic discipline that looks at technology management holistically in a way to ensure we optimize the value of our technology, that mitigates its risks and drives better experiences.”

Are asset managers ignoring containers?

“This came as a bit of a shock to me,” stated Ryan. From his experience of speaking with asset managers during the conference and prior, Ryan has found that many IT asset managers are still not focused on managing the cost of containers, or are overly concerned about licensing within containers. “Given the push to new microservices driven architectures, and the use of containers to deliver on those benefits, we really need to do a better job as an industry educating the users on the risks and challenges this presents and how to address them.”

ITAM has matured beyond software optimization & compliance

70% of attendees to Wisdom NA 2024 were new to the conference this year. This means that either many more people are new to the industry, or (as is more likely) it is a reflection that as the role expands asset managers are finding they need to broaden their expertise.

“While I still get the sense that cost optimization and defending audits is a high priority, I did get a sense that many asset managers have started to pivot from this as being their only focus,” commented Ryan. ITAM has certainly matured beyond its core role, with many conversations about ESG (environmental sustainability and governance), security, and business value of technology taking place at the event. This is great for the industry, as it really focuses away from the single thread of SLM that we seem to become so focused on over the last 10 years.

  1. Gartner: “Target Software and Cloud Costs by Uniting Software Asset Management and FinOps” by Gartner. Written by Stephen White, Yoann Bianic, Stewart Buchanan, 6 April 2023. ↩︎

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