IT Business Value: The Critical Role of IT Asset Management
IT asset management (ITAM) can either enable and enhance or severely constrain IT business value.
Information Technology (IT) has always been the core enabler of modern business. Regardless of what that business actually delivers (energy, health care, financial services, entertainment, etc.) the path to business value goes through IT. The challenge for the business is how to maximize IT business value when the IT estate it is not only constantly growing and changing but is also under what seems like non-stop attack.
There is an enormous range of variables in any IT ecosystem, some of which are relatively static (legacy systems, data centers), some of which are in constant motion (PCs and mobile devices entering and exiting the ecosystem), and some of which are truly disruptive (Cloud migration, deployment of IoT). All of this is happening simultaneously, and most of the time in a non-coordinate fashion. On top of which, you have employees bringing in technology that suits their particular needs that is outside the scope of IT’s control, commonly referred to as Shadow IT, which can often have a higher risk profile.
The entirety of all this (servers, data centers, routers, WANs, PCs and myriad mobile devices, etc.) falls within the scope of ITAM, and there is nothing that impacts the success of the business more than having a well-optimized IT infrastructure. If you think this is hyperbole, think of what happens when IT systems fail; security breaches, systems collapsing under traffic spikes at the worst possible time, dissatisfied customers who have alternatives - every day the news is filled with cautionary tales of what happens when you get it wrong.
So what is the right approach?
To maximize IT business value, ITAM needs to be driven by business and operational considerations, not just technical frameworks. While the option to move to e.g. AWS or Azure may ultimately be a technical one, the driver needs to be defined by what is the value to the business of choice A vs. B? The answer to this is what is your core competency? Are you maintaining a significant inventory of highly configurable products that need to be shipped all over the world as quickly as possible? Are you delivering a service where a technology failure could result in a loss of life? Or are you risking upsetting customers that were difficult to acquire but easy to lose?
These and other myriad examples illustrate the prioritization of technology decisions - what best supports the line of business and its operational enablement, regardless of what that business is? This does not mean you prioritize one type of infrastructure over another - everything is interconnected and interdependent, but what specific information is surfaced in a timely fashion is what makes an ITAM solution high value-add, regardless of the line of business.
To really move the needle, the context of IT business value needs to expand to include ancillary variables such as Finance (for depreciation purposes), HR (who has what where why), Compliance (for when the auditors show up - and they will), Logistics and Inventory Management, and Operations Management (which skews heavily into IoT). Tracking the context of the elements within an IT ecosystem moves the enterprise towards genuine transparency.
The core issue here is that all companies live on process, and every step of the process has an IT corollary, and this applies not only to internal processes, but to the company’s entire supply chain as well. Having a real-time view of the interconnectedness of everything (assets, resources, processes, etc.) through an IT Asset Management system can surface potential risk for downstream events, and keep minor problems from bringing business to a halt. This is in addition to enabling enterprises to optimize business performance through better resource and compliance management, reduced costs, etc. This approach is particularly critical in the present moment when the workforce (and it's enabling IT infrastructure) is shifting to a remote model.