Has 25 Years Changed Asset Management?

On the 25th Anniversary of ISAM, we have experienced tremendous growth in the maturity of I.T. Asset Management over the past 25 years. When ISAM began on October 28, 1996, the phrase “asset management” was commonly associated with financial investments. Software ELAs (Enterprise License Agreements) were known to less than 1% of organizations and offered by only a few software vendors; software audits were non-existent; software discovery tools were limited to one product (SoftAudit) on the mainframe; distributed security was keeping your servers in a locked closet; software license optimization was restricting your mainframe software between LPARs; there was only one asset management conference (Gartner) which had started just a few years earlier as a user group; and the number of software asset management consulting companies were limited to less than five.

When ISAM started advocating software ELAs in 1996, the only interest in ELAs came from companies needing to upgrade large mainframes who wanted to minimize their software costs from a few vendors. When ISAM started advocating software price & cost benchmarking, the only interest in benchmarking came from sports fans. Best in class organizations spent less than half on software costs than the average organization.

What has changed in the asset management industry in the past 25 years? What hasn’t changed?

The industry has taken great leaps in building critical tools to enable asset management effectively. Digital transformation has heightened the need for security and depend on asset management tools. To provide effective real-time security, knowing what assets are deployed and where they are used is essential.

To avoid the growing number of software audits by an increasing number of vendors, organizations realize that maintaining effective license positions across all software vendors is critical.

Organizations have realized the importance of knowing what assets they own, deploy, and use. They have created Asset Management departments that provide valuable information of IT asset deployments to other departments. Rarely do I see an organization trying to justify the significance or importance of asset management.

What hasn’t changed? The knowing of why. When my wife’s uncle retired as an executive from a global Fortune 50 manufacturer after taking them from a U.S. company to a global company, I asked him the secret to his success. His response was that he traveled to all their foreign operations and asked each plant “why” they did what they did. He made them justify their operations.

From the “why” perspective, I.T. hasn’t changed much. Like the global manufacturer constantly re-engineering their operations, asset management should always know why the asset was purchased from a business value perspective. It’s more than knowing what is deployed, utilized and licensed. It’s knowing when to acquire & retire an asset; when to redeploy the software to different hardware; when to re-architect hardware; when to change the software license metric; and when the value of the asset has diminished to where the financial capital can be more effectively used elsewhere. When I ask an organization why they have a particular asset, I’m often given a technical not business value response.

Where does the Asset Management industry need to change? Tool providers need to better show the value of the data. Asset management service providers need to better provide business value assessments of the software licenses. Software vendors need to better understand that their customer isn’t an unlimited source of revenue. Organizations need to transition from what they are practicing as “inventory tracking” to providing “asset management” – a measured approach to optimizing the business value of their portfolio.

Helping in the development of the Asset Management industry has been a fun journey and it gets more exciting all the time. To the hundreds of organizations globally that have trusted ISAM over 25 years to save you millions in your I.T. costs – thank you!

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