The ITAM Review

News, reviews and resources for worldwide ITAM, SAM and Licensing professionals.

The ITAM Future – and how to get there

Our 2018 User Survey results are in & our readers see an ITAM future of new reporting lines and new responsibilities. In order to get there, they envision new tool capabilities and have identified improvements required to processes and their own organisations. This article explores the key themes and concludes with a vision of an ITAM team 5 years from now (hint – it probably won’t be called ITAM).

Everything As A Service

The key change our readers report is the move to As-A-Service consumption management. This is in keeping with our reporting on the subject, and industry predictions that SaaS spending alone will top $100bn per year by 2020. With SaaS optimisers such as Zylo reporting annual wastage of 37% this is a substantial opportunity for ITAM professionals to make a difference to their organisations and ensure that their roles remain both relevant and grow. Digital Transformation change programmes invariably seek to use As-A-Service deployments to meet agility, security, and compliance challenges. With these new deployment approaches come governance challenges of their own. Specifically – who can deploy? Who manages change? Who is tracking spend against budget? With Digital programmes happening outside IT well-established governance processes around Procurement and Service Management can be bypassed. This may lead to unexpected, unintended, and unbudgeted spend. The key challenge with As-A-Service deployment is that expenditure is happening continuously – the tap is running, and there are usually no refunds. All your compliance risks are realised immediately rather than waiting for the audit letter to arrive.

ITAM Professionals are well-placed to address this challenge but may require new skills or need to grow their teams. With the move to consumption rather than risk management the cadence changes. Zylo report that companies committed to SaaS deployments are managing 2 renewals per day. This is very different to negotiating three-year deals for an EA or ULA. In the absence of automation ITAM Managers will need to be selective in focusing their efforts. Management of these contracts is similar to managing utility bills so your new team members might be sourced from Facilities or Telecoms management roles.

Organisational Changes

Digital Transformation is beginning to change the role of IT as a whole. The days of deploying and maintaining kit running in on-premises datacenters are coming to an end for many organisations as Cloud First strategies are pursued. Whilst the future will likely remain a hybrid approach – multiple cloud, multiple on-prem deployments – IT will be doing less hands-on work. Rather than driving business technology change your CIO may end up just paying the bills and being responsible for legal and regulatory compliance. Probably not the future many IT senior managers envisaged 10 years ago. The mantra only a few years ago was “Every business is an IT business”. That remains the case – the difference is that the IT Department is no longer running it.

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For IT to remain relevant they need be a change enabler rather than the “Knights of Ni”. The future role ITAM professionals have here is in being dynamic enough to manage budgets that are perhaps held outside IT. In order to do that they themselves may need to have a reporting line outside IT.

Process Changes

Establishing a framework to manage cloud spend should be a priority. With the deployment of tooling comes the ability to manage cloud spend centrally and to spot optimisation opportunities. When departments are running their own cloud budgets there is almost inevitable duplication and procurement inefficiency. Typically, departments will be focused on delivering against their business targets rather than managing their software subscriptions. Well-established cloud services such as Dropbox & Salesforce are prime examples of wastage through duplication where contracts are held by individual business units rather than at the corporate level. Getting visibility of these contracts, renewal dates, and service usage enables the modern ITAM Manager to provide actionable intelligence to Procurement well in advance of contract renewal.

Expect to see extensive content next year from The ITAM Review on these topics – SaaS Optimisation, Cloud Governance, and how to build a team to manage this growing expenditure.

Security & Compliance

Cost optimisation through usage analysis, contract co-terming, and effective renewals management is often only a short-term project. Once you have got the right processes, people, and tools in place costs should remain under an acceptable level of control. The next challenge, and one that has an almost unlimited price ticket, is the Security & Compliance aspect of ITAM. Regulatory changes such as GDPR and the growth of Open Source software present a further opportunity for growth.

Historically, an application was monolithic – built by a single publisher by their own employees. If there was a problem with that application you made use of your expensive support contract to log a bug which was then fixed in a later version. Modern applications are different – they are built on foundations from multiple sources and therefore multiple vendors or authors. A fault in one library or component can expose the rest of the application to regulatory and compliance risks. Application components are updated frequently and continuously. For example, recent TicketMaster & BA customer data thefts were enabled by compromised third-party modules. Understanding the components making up an application therefore becomes important. Being able to inventory those components, or look inside application container services such as Docker, or to manage serverless deployments are all tasks which could be performed by a future ITAM team. Your expertise in Discovery, Inventory, and Normalisation may well be valuable to your IT Security team – perhaps you may find yourself reporting to the Chief IT Security Officer or Privacy Officer.

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New Skills

With technology budgets being managed outside of IT, stakeholder engagement skills become important. Being able to talk in a language understandable by a non-IT executive will become more important than knowing the intricacies of SQL Server mobility rights. Financial modelling and demand forecasting skills will also become important. Increasingly our roles will overlap with Procurement and Financial Management. For a number of years ITAM Review have been highlighting that skills shortages are impacting the ability for ITAM to deliver results. As the roles become less technical perhaps it will become easier to attract employees from other areas.

ITAM 2023

So, what does an ITAM Team look like in 5 years? The trends reported in the survey point to the possibility of convergence and rationalisation. One possible approach is the formation of an IT Financial Governance team consisting of technical specialists and professionals from the ITAM, Procurement, and Finance worlds.

Key stakeholders for this team will be IT Security & Compliance, Privacy Officers, and Employee Experience teams. The team will set budgets, track usage and spend, manage application risk, manage vendors and contracts, and ensure that employees have the right tools to enable them to do their jobs. That to me sounds like our future is as change agents and digital transformation enablers – and that sounds a lot more exciting than worrying about how many unused copies of MS Project you have deployed.

What do you think? – follow up in the comments, attend our conferences, and participate in our forum and MarketPlace. Help shape the future of ITAM.

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About AJ Witt

A former IT Asset Manager, AJ is Industry Analyst for The ITAM Review. He's interested in hearing from end users of ITAM tools and also vendors. He enjoys writing about the SaaS Management market, practical aspects of ITAM operations, and the strategy of major software publishers. You can connect via email (aj.witt@itassetmanagement.net) or LinkedIn. AJ enjoys cycling, music, and spending time with his family.

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