Making Sense of ITAM Investments in 2024

In the mature market landscape of IT asset management (ITAM), you might wonder “what’s the rush?” to invest in a long-run, stable technology solution. ITAM must compete against priorities from AI to cloud and front-running development technologies. Making the case for ITAM in 2024 is both economic and control-based while offering IT greater visibility and spreading value across the enterprise with optional expansion into enterprise asset management (EAM).

In short, ITAM is the inventory and financial management of all types of IT assets. Historically, this mission has emphasized the management of hardware systems and sometimes components, along with close attention to software asset management (SAM). The scope has evolved and now covers all types of IT assets including network and cloud assets, consumables, and perhaps most importantly, security assets.

The Return on ITAM Investment

For most IT shops, the return on an investment in an ITAM practice is significant. Some buyers approach ITAM simply as a process control mechanism to assign and track assets through their lifecycle. However, those that embrace ITAM and its financial components will realize additional value for IT and for the enterprise overall. Benefits include:

  • Reduced IT spending: IT will save measurable dollars when implementing an ITAM solution. Understanding which employees are using what licenses for any assets offers the ability to move those assets around, predict when additional licensing is needed, and moderate the purchase of assets and the license to use them. More recent developments in ITAM available in a wide range of vendor offerings also allow proactive monitoring of actual usage. Some users will anticipate a need that may not be realized. This creates another cost saving opportunity.
  • Improved control and security: The ability to discover and monitor IT assets is at the heart of automating any ITAM solution. However, in addition to understanding what you have and where it is being used, organizations need to know how those assets impact security. Vulnerabilities can arise from location as well as lack of control outside of the enterprise firewall. As such, ITAM solutions should provide robust inventory management capabilities as well as financial and process controls. Additionally, security assets require management in the same way as other hardware and software components. This is a growth area for ITAM. Approximately 30% of the vendors in the ITAM space are currently adding security devices to their portfolios and another 20% have plans to do so. At the same time, security asset management is available from some security focused solutions.
  • Risk avoidance: Avoiding licensing audits continues to be a factor for large enterprises investing in solutions from vendors such as SAP, Microsoft, and Oracle. This has been an important consideration for more than a decade. Some shifting has occurred with SaaS-based solutions, and this will likely have a long-term impact on this need to avoid audits because solution providers have much more control over license use. For 2024, it remains a decision-factor for adopting ITAM. Security is another dimension to risk avoidance that can be achieved in deploying or upgrading an ITAM solution. The risk here is more about negative media coverage of security failures that may occur due to licensing challenges.
  • Management beyond IT assets: ITAM vendors are also demonstrating that traditional hardware and software asset management is simply the tip of the iceberg. Visionary vendors show how ITAM solutions have value for managing corporate assets as well. Many solution providers have case studies and proof points revealing the broad utilitarian nature of their ITAM deployments. While the solutions are designed for the management of desktops, laptops, and mobile devices, they are equally helpful in tracking other corporate assets and for overall EAM. The question is how this more diverse inventory is incorporated and managed in a similar way. It is the case that most corporate assets either need to be uploaded or tracked from an external system. Some vendors have success in using RFID tracking mechanisms for non-IT assets. Many have plans to use internet of things (IoT) network systems in the not-too-distant future. Examples of the application of ITAM to corporate assets include: manufacturing equipment and consumables, high-value artwork owned by the corporation, facilities and the equipment needed for operations, and farming applications including tracking growing fields and livestock. The expansion beyond IT assets is fascinating and exponentially changes the value of an ITAM investment to IT teams and to the C-suite.

Beyond the Business Case

ITAM’s business case is easily justified with robust features that support the above cost savings, control, and security value in today’s solutions. This value can also be realized in mid-market solutions, so it’s not reserved only for large enterprises. Small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) will require the manpower to design and implement a program that supports and sustains an ITAM implementation that is augmented with process and best practice.

Our research into the ITAM market revealed that while a large percentage of vendors are focused on ITIL best practices and position ITAM closely with IT service management (ITSM), not all are relying on IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL). One vendor is now adhering to the International Association of Information Technology Asset Managers, Inc. (IAITAM) guidelines, and other vendors are not linking ITAM to ITSM but instead embracing it as an independent discipline.

Going forward, investment in emerging technologies will drive future innovation and value for ITAM, and this discipline is advancing. Vendors are investing in many related technologies from the types of assets managed to the connection points with IT financial management, corporate financial management, the ability for ITAM to provide insight and opportunity to impact environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting and investment decisions. Consolidation is also underway as we’ve seen with the ITSM market. Flexera’s acquisition of Snow Software is the most recent evidence. Clearly, there is more to come on the ITAM front.

Next Steps

To learn more, take a look at GigaOm’s ITAM Key Criteria and Radar reports. These reports provide a comprehensive overview of the market, outline the criteria you’ll want to consider in a purchase decision, and evaluate how a number of vendors perform against those decision criteria.

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