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Gartner Summit Review: The Emperor’s New Clothes

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The Emperor's New Clothes is a short tale by Hans Christian Anderson about two weavers who promise an Emperor a new suit of clothes that is invisible to those unfit for their positions, stupid or incompetent. When the Emperor parades before his subjects in his new clothes, a child cries out, "But he isn't wearing anything at all!"

I was fortunate to attend the EMEA Gartner IT Financial, Procurement & Asset Management Summit in London last week.

In short: Great value for money, great networking, recommended event.

Mega Vendor Arab Spring

I have come to the conclusion over the last few months that the software licensing industry desperately needs to have a ‘Emperor’s New Clothes‘ moment of clarity and recognize the absurd behaviour of mega-vendors.

The Emperor’s New Clothes is a short story by Hans Christian Anderson which describes the situation where people are unwilling to risk looking ignorant or stupid by admitting they cannot see the value of something and go along with the “experts” who extol its value. The big software publishers have done a good job of smoothing over their messy licensing schemes and giving the impression that this is the norm, perfectly normal and acceptable behaviour.

Well it isn’t and it is time for change.

We need our own version of the Arab spring which recognizes the anti-competitive, ludicrous behaviour of software publishers and pivot the relationship in favour of buyers. This is not a one way relationship, buyers of software also need to step up to the plate in their management of vendors.

Gartner Analyst Stewart Buchanan certainly captured this sentiment with his opening keynote at the summit when he urged us to rethink the economics of IT and reset the status quo of IT Procurement and Asset Management. He encouraged attendees to revisit the abusive relationship many companies have with their suppliers.

Good Value Event?

Was the event good value for money? I think this is best answered by Line Bloch, a sourcing manager from Denmark:

Loosely translated Line says:

“It is great to come home from a conference and use the bulk of new knowledge”.

Considering companies can network with peers across Europe in similar positions, get one-on-one access to analysts and get educated in the latest trends I think it is great value for money.

ITAM Trends

Two trends I noticed from the event:

  1. Vendor Management is definitely a core discipline to master. It was great to attend an event whereby compliance and audit were a given and didn’t need to be justified. Organizations are beginning to tame the audit beast, gain control of their data – the next obvious step is vendor management. Anthony Porter of Electronic Arts claimed 50% of their vendors constituted only 1% of spend, and the top 20 vendors represented 80% of spend. i.e. A whole lot of noise and classic Pareto balance – companies need to get strategic about WHAT and HOW they manage.
  2. SAM Managed Services are in vogue. After several false starts with different SAM tools organizations are finally realizing it isn’t just about tools, the recognize both the business value and effort involved so managed services is a good option. One case study featured Astra Zeneca (70K desktops) who claimed “in excess of $100k per month of license tracked and re-harvested”. This is a no-brainer to outsource if executed correctly.

Constructive Criticism

A couple of considerations for improvement:

  1. More Solutions Please – The Gartner analysts do a good job of highlighting the risks and alerting you of things to consider. The checklists. I’d like to see them carry this forward and provide more examples of success. As IT Asset Management, Procurement or Financial professionals we approach these events looking for answers, connections, and insights. For example Stewart Buchanan covered Licensing Virtual Desktops and the Cloud and Frances O’Brien covered ITAM in a world of BYOD. Both analysts did an excellent job of highlighting the risks, but rather than returning to my desk filled with hope that a solution was in sight I felt more like jumping in the Thames. I intend to heed my own advice here with much more case study driven content on The ITAM Review in future.
  2. Disconnect in ITAM Tools Coverage: I felt there was a bit of a disconnect in Gartner tool coverage. 90% of the content from the summit and exhibitors were focussed on SAM, yet Patricia Adams provided a 90′s view of Asset Repositories. She referred to SAM tools as an ‘emerging’ category which I felt was a bit of an insult to the tools and partners in the exhibitors hall and not an accurate reflection of the market. Gartner have no SAM tool analysis on the horizon and when asked, Patricia Adams stated some Gartner company spiel about category size. Big enough a category for two international conferences but not for tool analysis? An opportunity missed.

Date for your diary: pencil in 11th – 12th September 2013 Gartner ITAM 2013.

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Martin Thompson

Martin is owner and founder of the The ITAM Review and The ITSM Review. Martin is also founder and Chair, Campaign for Clear Licensing. A contributor to the British Computer Society (BCS) Configuration Management Group and contributor to the UK itSMF UK Service Transition SIG. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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1 Response to " Gartner Summit Review: The Emperor’s New Clothes "

  1. Tania O'Connor says:

    Thanks for this article Martin, I was at the event as well and completely agree!

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