Why IT asset management keeps getting overlooked

Managing the ever-increasing volumes of IT within a business is a bigger challenge now than it’s ever been before. It’s no surprise, therefore, that so many organisations are turning to automation for more repetitive tasks, and to lighten the load in terms of time and resources. According to All Tech Magazine, 35% of IT leaders say automation is a top priority for them in 2024, nearly as many as the 45% that say they’re prioritising artificial intelligence.

But despite this, many businesses are still treating IT asset management (ITAM) as an afterthought. At a time when it’s critical to have a comprehensive, accurate and up-to-date view of all assets – both physical and virtual – it’s all too common for IT teams to be lacking in this area. Indeed, it’s possible that some IT leaders may not have a clear understanding of what they are expected to manage and protect – or they do, but just can’t see those assets.

So why is this? In our experience, a lack of transparency is a common issue. Senior management and IT teams don’t always have the open and frank conversations they need to have around ITAM, or because they face too many variables beyond their control. The end result is often that IT teams don’t feel they have the autonomy to make their own decisions and put the right ITAM measures in place, which means they can only spring into action when something goes wrong. This situation isn’t necessarily anyone’s fault, but it does require a rethink around how ITAM is approached.

Why is this such a pressing issue?

In the quest to properly manage all the IT assets within their purview, IT teams are having to fight battles on a number of fronts simultaneously. For example, shadow IT – where users circumvent corporate IT and processes, and do their own thing instead – can be a major generator of security vulnerabilities. If IT teams don’t know what users have installed on which devices, or how the data is being used as a result, then they can’t do anything to manage and protect either the data or the devices involved.

This risk of shadow IT extends to the cloud, which has made it much easier for users to act independently. For example, the terms and conditions of an established cloud-based workflow management platform allows them to use all the data uploaded into it. If users happen to put protected or even classified information there, this opens up a huge compliance issue. Similarly, free trials that users are tempted into signing up for could be malicious if the source of the software isn’t verified as safe and reliable.

Away from the technical side, it’s becoming harder and harder to keep IT budgets under control. Much of this is down to vendors moving away from perpetual licence models towards subscription models, and using that as an opportunity to hike prices to a captive audience. For example, VMware’s acquisition by Broadcom has led to some customers facing price rises of up to 1200% for products that are essential to their business.

This is leading to huge OpEx costs for software which can’t easily be reduced and cannot be amortised over several years. It also extends to suppliers and service providers, who are finding that major tech businesses like Microsoft are raising the costs of their Service Provider Licence Agreements. If businesses start to find those licence agreements or subscriptions unaffordable, then they risk losing access to much-needed technology that the business needs to function properly.

The power of visibility

Good IT asset management means a business can see everything they’ve subscribed to, the terms and conditions involved, and when licences or subscriptions are coming up for renewal. This allows IT teams to make informed, timely decisions about whether or not a particular solution needs renewing, whether it’s delivering sufficient value, and what would happen if that solution was rendered unavailable for whatever reason. The same principle extends to the use of out-of-date software: any use by a particular user can be identified and addressed quickly, before any security vulnerabilities have been exposed.

Knowing when licences and subscriptions expire also means IT teams can explore potential price rises and alternative options well ahead of time. That way, if the monthly cost is likely to increase by a major amount, they can plan budgets ahead to accommodate that increase, or look for a different way that delivers the same functionality for less.

In short: if you can’t see it, you can’t know about it. And if you don’t know about it, you can’t make the right decisions about it. So at a time of rising cybercrime, expanding IT asset estates and ballooning subscription costs, the visibility that ITAM delivers is a critically important tool – not just for IT teams, but for the wider business too.

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