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Putting a price on IT: The biggest challenge of all?
Date Added: Mon November 12 2007
Some things just don’t change, or should that be, ‘some people’? Every few months new figures emerge to show that despite a decade long campaign by analysts and powerful international vendors, the majority of IT professionals have only a vague idea about the extent of the IT estate they manage, let alone its financial or business value.
 
This goes for billion dollar companies as well as SMEs, and it’s true all over the world – admittedly the UK’s one of the worst areas sadly.   All the arguments have been put forward to prove the undeniable value of automated IT asset management, yet the message continues to fall on deaf ears.
 
Companies which don’t understand their IT investment are not behaving in a responsible business fashion; they cannot protect it or nurture it, they cannot make best use of resources, they cannot make the correct future investment decisions. The same attitude would not be countenanced for plant, machinery, staff or premises, and even more intangible assets such as brand and IP are valued more accurately and enthusiastically than IT.
 
Why should the message about ITAM (IT asset management) still not get through?
 
The excuses vary; it’s too complex or time-consuming to initiate, I don’t need it, I’ve more pressing projects to work on, I can’t afford it, I already do asset management by walk-about methods. We’ve heard them all and they’re all misguided, stop and think again.
 
It’s too complex: in fact, network management tools today are easy to install and can automate the entire network discovery process and pull software license key details from every network attached PC with 1 or 2 clicks of a mouse and from a single management console. It’s far less time-consuming than a manual audit.
 
I don’t need it: yes you do, to ensure license compliance and avoid punitive fines every company must be on top of its’ IT assets at any point in time. Only real time automated license management will ensure that network managers can identify infringements as and when they happen.   Another beneficial impact of ITAM is felt in improved and more successful implementation of future IT projects due to the IT team’s accurate understanding of the network.
 
I can’t afford it: multiple proofs exist to show that users of ITAM save money by identifying unnecessary software licenses and service contracts as well as discovering under-utilised assets.   In addition, there are huge savings in time for the IT professionals involved both through the streamlining of the process and reduced downtime.
 
I do it by walk-about: a network is a living dynamic being that changes and even grows on a daily, if not hourly, basis. Only real-time reporting can give an accurate picture of network assets and activity.­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­
 
So much for the excuses, perhaps the reason is different. Is it because IT is still remote from the business and fails to understand at a fundamental level its role in the corporate structure, or are they wary of what they may discover? 
 
Understanding and controlling business risk is a key agenda topic at board level, and it clearly cannot be tackled without the support and co-operation of the IT team as so many business processes are dependent on IT.   But the first, simple and obvious step is understanding your network and its assets. Without ITAM, aiming for controlled business risk is like setting off on a journey without even knowing your starting point.
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