Next-Generation Asset Management: Shifting Left? Shifting Right? Or Shifting In-Between?
March 02, 2018

Dennis Drogseth

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Over the last four years, EMA has done research uniquely focused on how software asset management (SAM), IT asset management (ITAM) more broadly (including hardware), IT service management (ITSM), and transformative attempts to optimize IT as a business, have been evolving — both in the spring of 2014 and the summer of 2016. The overall perspectives from both research projects shows that, at least as a vision, many IT organizations are really seeking:

■ A more cohesive and unifying approach across asset and service management disciplines

■ Executive level attention to this trend, including growth of executive "ownership" of the process

■ An indication that business stakeholders/executives are increasingly looking over IT's shoulder — expecting their IT tablemates to demonstrate value vis-à-vis costs (What's commonly called "running IT as a business.")

■ Growing interest in making this work across IT silos (e.g. network, systems, apps) so that SW and HW investments, and OpEx overhead can be managed more effectively together

■ Growing interest in managing cloud resources as an integrated part of IT asset and business planning

■ Accelerating investments in areas such as analytics (ranging from SAM to broad-based financial optimization), advanced discovery and dependency mapping, and service catalogs to promote a more effective lifecycle approach to asset management

■ More than a hint that IoT and security concerns are beginning to take root as an integrated part of the bigger picture in asset, service and financial planning

■ And don't forget the growing impacts of agile/DevOps in making IT asset management an even more interesting experience

■ A clear data demarcation showing that those who declared themselves "extremely successful" embraced all of the above trends far more than those who saw themselves as only "marginally successful."

Vision vs. Reality

OK fine. This is the vision. It makes sense. And it has the glow of being forward-looking, progressive, and relevant both to IT and to digital transformation.

And yet, when we talk to many vendors, or examine many IT environments, we still see just the opposite. Strategic values sail over the heads of far too many buyers. Immediate, hands-on, "let's get this done" still seems to rule the day when it comes to adopting most solutions.

Maybe the trick is this. When you do visionary research, you may tend to get visionary respondents.

So this spring we're embarking on research that can connect the dots with the visions of the past, but which will also squarely force respondents to come clean about what they're actually doing now — and within the coming 12 months. And we'll also ask them how their priorities have changed over the last two years:

■ Have they really pursued superior levels of integration over the last two years?

■ Are they seeking new leadership? New skillsets? Better OpEx metrics?

■ Changing their process and best practice priorities?

■ Are they moving more to IoT (and if so where?)

■ What have they done about cloud lately?

■ Are they still stumbling over security issues and compliance?

■ What are they investing in — really? And who owns the process?

■ Or, by contrast, are they simply looking to outsource the problem?

We'll also be able to evaluate changes in surprising data from the past. For instance, average mid-tier enterprises showed about 11 different discovery and inventory tools primarily linked to asset management requirements, while with larger enterprises the average shifted upward toward 15.

Has that changed? If so, in which direction?

And even more interesting, the average respondent spent about 15 hours a week resolving discovery and inventory discrepancies — and the more successful respondents spent more (not less) time doing this!

Have these and other "curious facts" changed? If so in which direction? Or have they stayed the same?

And back to basics, we'll certainly be trending the ins-and-outs of core priorities in SAM, ITAM, ITSM and beyond. The thrill of audits. The demands of managing and assimilating data from multiple data sources (not just inventory and discovery). The challenges of (and willingness to) model asset investments to align with business services.

And there are going to be some areas where we may have more fun than others. "Bots" were barely in the vocabulary two years ago. Now they're starting to show up with increasing frequency in a variety of roles. Or are they? And when it comes to analytics — an area of in-depth concern for EMA — what's being applied and where? Are we truly getting machine learning into the act, or merely the wish for it to arrive sooner than later?

The bottom line is this. We want to find our visionaries, once again. But we also want to provide a few more acid tests to see what's real. Or at least what's imminent.

I should know more well before spring gets too old. And I'll let you know some of the highlights then.

Dennis Drogseth is VP at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA)
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