Using Automated Asset Information for a Strong ITAM Foundation

Modern IT organizations are constantly challenged to improve service quality and keep operational costs in check. One area that is particularly difficult to manage is IT asset management (ITAM). Efforts to manage IT assets are hampered by inconsistent and unreliable hardware and software asset information, leading to project delays and possibly failures. 

Gartner reports that 40% of all IT projects fail, and the primary cause is poor data quality. Do you have confidence in the hardware and software asset information that drives your IT processes and projects?

To reduce operational and financial risk, ITAM demands a consistent picture of all your hardware and software asset information. Without solid information, organizations incur significant extra costs with higher operational and security risks:

  • ITAM and IT Service Management (ITSM) are expensive and time-consuming to maintain hundreds and thousands of devices and applications.
  • IT asset data is often inconsistent, inaccurate and incomplete, which lowers service quality and increases service costs.
  • Longer resolution times, unnecessary escalations and outages, inefficient utilization of IT staff time, and reduced productivity often drive support costs up.

To provide more efficient business operations, improve employee productivity and protect against security attacks, good clean and reliable hardware and software asset information is key. 

Here are some areas in which incomplete and unreliable asset information hampers ITAM and ITSM efforts:

Infrastructure Headache

IT’s biggest headache has always been managing the IT infrastructure. Countless man-hours are consumed having to track and manage thousands of software and hardware assets. When you take into account data center equipment and desktop/workstation equipment, the task of keeping up-to-date device information is extremely challenging. 

Without good asset information, many basic IT process are impacted. For example, software licenses are impacted when reliable inventory information is not available. Risks of security breaches increase when unsupported versions of software exist in the organization. And calls to the Help Desk are escalated unnecessarily due to incomplete asset information.

The solution is to automate the management of IT asset information by enabling your existing ITAM delivery solutions with a good, clean asset information source. An asset information source enhances and enriches your ITAM solution with complete, up-to-date asset information and normalizes it with your existing IT information. 

If additional market information is added to the assets for details on End-of-Life, compatibility and vulnerability, the usage of ITAM is extended. Projects that once took months of man-hours can be reduced to mere hours. With access to good, clean asset information, your IT staff can spend more time on enhancing services and developing new innovations. 

Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) is exploding. It’s made up of billions of “smart” devices that use wireless technology to talk to each other (and to us). The IoT world is forecasted to grow from 2 billion devices in 2006 to 200 billion devices in 2020. These figures are important to IT organizations for the impact they will have on asset management. If we consider the task of manually tracking all that asset information, it would be nearly impossible today manually; what will happen when the number of assets increases 100-fold? The solution is an automated asset information source. 

Service Automation

The underlying trend driving the need for an asset information source is automation. IT staff time is too valuable to be consumed by manually collecting, updating and managing asset information. IT time is better spent managing and improving processes and services. Furthermore, traditional IT processes can be automated once asset information is integrated with ITAM and ITSM services. For example, the common question of software compatibility can be automated so that employees can check that online. A straightforward question regarding software version can be answered directly, saving IT time and improving end-user productivity.

Service Help Desk

For all organizations, the IT Help Desk is the first place that end-users go to for anything IT-related. It is expected that end-users will need help managing their desktop/workstation assets. Common questions related to software and hardware compatibility are to be expected. So it is vital that the IT Help Desk has access to the latest tools and processes. 

An automated asset information source can benefit the Help Desk in several ways, including asset tracking, consistent product naming and first-call resolution.

  • Asset Tracking

For IT Help Desks, keeping track of end-user assets is an enormous challenge. For example, when a user reports an issue with her laptop, what is the model and service history? What software is it running? IT Help Desks typically use standalone tools or spreadsheets to track this asset data, making information unreliable and difficult to find. A better solution is an integrated ITSM solution with an asset information source. This solution enables accelerated customer service with reliable data.

  • Consistent Product Naming

The lack of product naming standards across tools, as well as within the same tool, makes IT product data inconsistent and unreliable. A single software product, for example, can be represented up to 20 ways in one system alone. Inconsistent product naming can cause longer resolution times, wasted effort, and avoidable outages. An asset information source that is normalized with existing ITAM and ITSM solutions enables consistent naming and improves Help Desk service delivery and ordering.

  • First-Call Resolution

 Quick call resolution is dependent on good, clean asset information. Information that is missing forces Help Desk personnel to have to manually find the information, which delays call resolution.  Inaccurate asset information can also lead to in accurate advice, which can lead to call escalation. Neither of which is good for the end-user. An automated asset information source puts accurate and reliable asset information at the fingertips of the Help Desk. Furthermore, self-service online tools can be developed that end-users can use to solve simple assets questions, such as compatibility.

Audit Risk

Software audits are becoming a major risk to organizations. Microsoft, Oracle, SAP and other leading software vendors keep close tabs on their customers for potential license violations and true-up costs. A common occurrence is deploying more copies of software than the license agreement allows. But taking software inventory is a time-consuming and laborious process. A better approach is an integrated ITAM and asset information source. A simple question of software install count can be reported in minutes, saving countless hours manually taking inventory. Having an accurate inventory of installed software not only reduces the risk of audit, but it may also improve license contract negotiations. For organizations with burdensome audit requirements, an automated asset information source helps to reduce audit risk and improve overall compliance efforts.

Mergers and Acquisitions

The high rate of merger and acquisition failure can be attributed to the complexity of IT integration.  According to a 2015 Deloitte study, 60 percent of executives considered a recent M&A transaction in their firm to be “very unsuccessful” to “somewhat unsuccessful” in terms of the post-merger integration. It’s no secret that merging systems and data, rationalizing applications, and achieving compliance with security and government regulations can be time-consuming and expensive. The recommended solution is to unify your company’s IT management information. With a single record of IT assets, it becomes far easier to merge systems and data. Companies that try to maintain separate systems are faced with complex replication, inaccuracy and lack of confidence. Once IT can trust the data about its own assets, IT can supply reliable data to M&A teams.

The Solution

The recommended solution is to keep track of assets with asset tracking and discovery and keep asset data clean and up-to-date with an automated asset information source. Together, you’ll be able to maintain an accurate record of all your IT assets, including who’s using them. 

By maintaining clean and reliable asset information, you’ll drastically reduce the effort of managing your assets, stay ahead of IoT, increase innovation with automation, improve Help Desk services, reduce audit risk, enable better acquisition and merger activity, and more.  You can automatically attach relevant asset data to help with migrations, compatibility and end-of-life processes.

Automation allows you to:

  • Provide accurate product information and real-time market intelligence for IT Asset Management, IT Service Management, CMDB, Enterprise Architecture, IT Procurement and GRC.  
  • Identify which assets have EOL dates that may be approaching or have already expired, which may pose cybersecurity vulnerabilities.
  • Identify which software and hardware assets are in compliance and identify unknown assets that violate corporate governance.
  • Address the need for complete and reliable asset information for Help Desk support, software vendor audits, mergers and acquisitions and more.
  • Ensure that enterprise software and hardware assets are within acceptable organization and industry GRC guidelines.

Enterprises today have much to gain from having an active ITAM practice in place. The benefits from companies realizing the importance of ITAM in their organization have quite possibly given themselves the biggest competitive advantage in today’s challenging marketplace.