The COVID pandemic has forced a rapid acceleration of digital transformation efforts across all verticals. In his most recent earnings call, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadeal said “…we’ve seen something like two years’ worth of digital transformation in just two months.” Microsoft, Adobe and Salesforce all cited COVID and the move to work-from-home as primary drivers of exceptionally strong sales growth. In particular, Microsoft cited growth of usage of products from it’s “Power” platform, Adobe cited growth of its SaaS products, and Salesforce talked about growth driven by its Mulesoft low-code integration and workflow automation offering.
ITAM must be faster, more accurate
All of this translates into life moving a lot faster for IT teams, and radically increased workloads for IT asset management (ITAM) technologies. In addition, the pace of transformation also adds new complications to tracking and managing software licenses as organizations rapidly expand use of SaaS and other software products to enable a distributed workforce and ensure business continuity.
The expansion comes against a backdrop of the deepest recession in modern economic history. Should IT teams inadvertently overshoot and allow too many users onto tightly licensed software from the likes of Adobe, Microsoft and Salesforce, the “true up” costs – which are almost always punitive – could be devastating.
The upshot? Effective management of software licenses is more critical than ever as we move to an increasingly decentralized work environment. Similarly, we will see increasing pressure on workers to adopt new products to remain relevant and keep pace with the rest of their organization. This means ITAM needs to up its game in several key areas, including:
- Preventing Over-Licensing and Under-Licensing: Both can be costly and inefficient. Under-licensing, in particular, can exact a hefty price when the software vendor recognizes added users beyond the existing contract or abuses existing licenses. A smart, integrated ITAM can help manage this by acquiring data from across the IT estate and mapping that to purchased licenses and statuses, automatically. More accurately tracking license usage can also help IT admins reassign licenses more quickly among employees to ensure they get the most bang for their buck.
- Getting Fresher Data On Software Usage: A big problem with static ITAM is that the usage data collected may be dependent on manual inputs or may require significant data wrangling to create a unified picture in a spreadsheet. The hard work of capturing and formatting this data prevents teams from getting fresh data. With an ITAM platform that can automatically capture data from multiple siloed systems and can flexibly integrate SaaS, cloud infrastructure and traditional boxed license information into a single master database, it is far easier to obtain fresh software usage data.
- Smarter License Negotiations: Fresher data also allows IT teams and purchasing managers to proactively negotiate for more licenses and to enter negotiation meetings with software vendors possessing accurate usage information, gaining a stronger footing with vendors’ sales teams.
- Automating Software License Audit Compliance: With so many changes happening so quickly, expect software vendors to up their audit cadence. Manual counts, as required by many older forms of ITAM, are a hated task for IT service teams. Any way to automate your internal IT team processes of counting licenses and identifying users is a huge win.
Conclusion: Digital Transformation drives improvements in ITAM capabilities
While the pressures unleashed by rapid digital transformation may be uncomfortable to IT teams in the near term, over the longer haul these shifts will benefit your IT organization, compliance, auditing and procurement processes. By laying a more solid foundation, your organization will gain better insights into what’s actually happening in the IT estate with respect to software usage. Your procurement team will be able to more effectively negotiate. Your security team will be able to better manage risks. Best of all, your IT service desk will be more efficient and effective.