IT, and specifically IT Asset Management (ITAM), often exists in a bubble separate from lines of business that generate revenue or are customer-facing. This can cause significant disconnects both for IT and for the business divisions they support. Investing in IT assets or infrastructure independently of supporting business objectives is just technology for the sake of it, and any line of business that is not operating with functionally optimized, state-of-the-art technology is at a competitive disadvantage. So what is the most effective approach to maximize the alignment of these critical functions?
Use ITAM to make your business more competitive
IT and the assets they manage are deeply embedded in every facet of business. This includes customer-facing applications and their supporting infrastructure, operations that are increasingly driven by and dependent on IP-enabled devices (the Internet of Things), and employees that spend every waking moment online, either on a PC or a mobile device. The objective should be to optimize the use of technology; you don’t want employees or operations to be under-infrastructured (since all technology is essentially a productivity tool), or over-infrastructured (assets you don’t use but still pay for). The truth is you will never reach a 100% optimized model, but it’s reasonable to assume most companies are nowhere near that, so if you can get to ~90%+ you’re way ahead of the game. IT should be constantly monitoring use for idle assets or software licenses, and it also makes sense to survey their users on a regular basis (are you running into consistent issues, is there anything you need that you don’t have, etc.). Not staying ahead of user requirements is how Shadow IT is enabled.
Aligning ITAM with the Line of Business focuses everyone on business objectives
Do you have a clear understanding of your company’s business strategy? The people at the top may know, but downward communication can often be a challenge. Even if there is continuous dialogue, company all-hands tend to be transactional updates, rather than a systemic review of longer term, vertically integrated objectives. And that is at the executive level, lines of business may have wildly varying objectives (sales vs. support vs. legal), which may well be in conflict. The common glue for all of this is IT, and the efficiencies associated with the assets that people use to get their work done, which can mean the difference between running lean and mean, or slow and sluggish.
It is imperative that senior management ensures everyone in the company understands both the overall and divisional business strategies and objectives, and how IT enablement can ensure that everyone can comfortably lean forward and push hard. The technology substrate of a business process has to be integral to the execution of that process. Business leaders and managers need to be sure IT is fully in the loop on what they are tasked with accomplishing, and what technologies (hardware, software, cloud, etc.) are needed to hit objectives. Technologies that map to the execution of business objectives will have higher value, since they are tied to transactional (continuous) use. It is incredibly important that both groups are aligned around each other.
Awareness and visibility into the IT estate that support business objectives is critical
The IT estate is big, complex, dynamic, and mission-critical. As we’ve all learned, it does not take much to push things off balance, and off balance can have an immediate impact on numbers that matter to the C-Suite (revenues, costs, CSat scores, etc.). Most of the prospects we talk to are either 1) tracking assets manually – on a spreadsheet – which is riddled with inaccuracies and does not scale, or 2) they use a siloed asset management approach (one for hardware, another for software, a third for mobile devices, etc.). Neither of these will give you what you need (a holistic, real-time view into who has what where, that can scale effortlessly to cloud level numbers). The management of your IT infrastructure and how you track everything has to map to how the end users interact with system resources. No one uses software without hardware, yet nearly all asset management systems still treat them as siloed systems. No one goes into the cloud without hardware and software, and yet these are also treated like completely unconnected resources, when in fact they are deeply embedded in each other.
This is where a holistic view of ITAM adds genuine value. You need insight into the entirety of your IT estate, since that is what is enabling the processes and workflows that make your business run. IT’s view should not be about IT, it should be about lines of business and what they can do to maximize the LOBs success. At the same time, LOBs need to make sure IT is in lockstep with them, or ideally even one step ahead.