Asset management is core to business success, but many organisations are still struggling to find the best way to implement it. In an era of ever-increasing complexity, compliance and security requirements, IT teams and their tools are being pushed to their limits. Organisations often struggle to manage the overall life cycle of IT and non-IT assets across all their business units because assets aren’t being used to their full potential.
An IT asset is classified as any company-owned information, system or hardware that’s used in the course of business activities. These are the essential components that keep an organisation running, yet studies have found that 80 per cent of IT assets are underused. And that can cut into an organisation’s budget, not to mention reduce overall productivity and employee satisfaction.
Increasing regulation and heightened information security concerns are prompting many organisations to re-evaluate their IT asset management system; many don’t even have any system in place.
What is ITAM?
The International Association of Information Technology Asset Managers (IAITAM) defines ITAM as “a set of business practices that incorporates IT assets across the business units within the organisation.” ITAM is a set of business practices that combine financial, inventory and contractual functions to optimise spending and support lifecycle management and strategic decision-making within the IT environment.
Put more simply, it’s the process of keeping tabs on all hardware, software and services operating within an enterprise – including tracking changes made and deciding what changes need to be made. This includes servers, PCs, laptops, mobile devices, operating systems, routers and switchers, and more. It also includes licensing tracking.
ITAM helps management make decisions about methods for improving capacity, reducing infrastructure costs or upgrading hardware and/or software. It provides an accurate account of tech asset lifecycle costs and risks to optimise the business value. The four primary types of IT assets that are managed are software, hardware, mobile devices and cloud.
ITAM’s many benefits
A complete ITAM solution tracks hardware (IT and non-IT) assets and software licenses, as noted above, but their usage as well so that organisations can ensure all licenses are assigned to appropriate parties and ensure confidential information is seen by only those who are meant to view it. ITAM thus plays a key role in asset optimisation by tracking usage and enabling re-assignment decisions. In addition, ITAM’s patch management functionality will benefit your organisation’s entire infrastructure by updating software to keep your data safe. This will also ensure compliance of industry best practices for security protocols.
Implementing ITAM reduces risks. One way it does this is by enabling the IT security team to whitelist and blacklist assets. This can mitigate security risks by controlling which entities you allow to communicate with your network. ITAM also makes regular compliance audits easier, which will keep your team abreast of asset risk and activity.
Another benefit of ITAM is an increase in competency. It helps organisations stay consistent with best practices, particularly with ITIL/IMAC, and manage contracts. ITAM produces cost savings, as well. It helps organisations take control of inventory by providing visibility into assets, and it assesses and identifies software requirements, which saves time. ITAM’s internal audit capabilities help assess competencies when it comes to risks and security. It also helps optimise software usage to ensure organisations are maximising licenses and properly implementing usage policies.
The key elements of an optimal ITAM solution
There are multiple solutions on the market that promise to help your enterprise with IT asset management, but not all are created equal. When evaluating a solution, it’s important to look for one that will address both hardware and software, including digital, mobile and the cloud.
The solution should encompass these elements to meet today’s asset management demands:
- IT asset discovery: What are the protocols/APIs being used for asset discovery of assets across your multi-cloud environment (e.g. Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI), Telenet, SSH, vCenter API, AWS API etc.)
- Hardware asset management: Asset lifecycle management and hardware variance reporting that IT teams can use to optimise and act on.
- Software asset management: Takes into account inventory, metering, usage and compiling compliance reports for software.
- Proactive compliance: Enabled by controlling applications, developing dynamic local admin password and ensuring patch compliance and management across all endpoints.
ITAM for success
Underused IT assets lead to wasted time and money, preventing the most efficient flow of work and critical processes. And with all the complex multi-cloud environments, cybersecurity threats and compliance requirements to address, organisations are realising that ITAM is now a business necessity. To reap the many benefits of ITAM, organisations should carefully vet Asset Management offerings to ensure that they contain the key elements for successful IT asset management. This will set businesses up for streamlined processes and greater efficiency and productivity. IT teams will be freed from lower-value tasks to focus on more strategic work that helps propel the business forward.
Dr. Akhil Sahai, product management and marketing, Symphony SummitAI