Get ready for the next evolution of digital business technology

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On-premise applications are moving to the cloud. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is becoming the first choice for new technology deployments. The future holds an explosion of IoT devices that will generate greater amounts of data at even faster speeds. And then there are the bots, artificial intelligence and cognitive systems on the horizon.

The amount of data that will be available to inform business decisions is daunting. And the number of ways the technology could expose your enterprise to compliance and security risks is even more staggering to imagine. If your enterprise is still struggling to implement effective management and governance of your technology and data assets, you better fasten your seatbelts – it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

“There is a massive proliferation of new technology, and most of us don’t know what’s inside our organization, let alone what is no longer used or retired. Having poor visibility into the asset landscape is a massive regulatory compliance risk,” explained R. “Ray” Wang, Principal Analyst and Founder of Constellation Research. Wang shared his views about the value of asset data and analytics during a recent webinar titled, Better IT Asset Management & Data Quality Empowers ITSM, Enterprise Architecture and IT Security.

Governance of an enterprise’s technology landscape is critical to the success of digital initiatives. Maintaining visibility into software and hardware assets throughout the entire enterprise is more and more important as technology continues to advance.

Wang continued, “There can be hundreds, even thousands of vulnerabilities that people don’t know until they have the threat landscape figured out. Once you have an accurate view of the IT infrastructure, you can actually figure out if you are compliant or not. Just saying ‘I don’t know’ is not good enough anymore.”

Manual asset management doesn’t measure up
Many organizations begin their asset management journey by using spreadsheets to itemize and track their IT assets. As businesses grow and hardware and software needs expand, the spreadsheet method can quickly spiral out of control. It becomes impossible to keep track of all the assets throughout the enterprise.

“Oftentimes the spreadsheet is missing key information that is needed for insights that drive technology decisions,” explained webinar moderator, Alán Lopez, Flexera Senior Director of Global Product Marketing. An optimization tool and a complete technology asset data source like Flexera’s Technopedia® dramatically improve governance compared to manual tracking with spreadsheets. Lopez went on to describe two advantages of using a technology asset management system and tools:

  1. An accurate real-time inventory of technology assets ensures all the actions to manage the IT environment result in the expected productivity and security outcomes.
  2. Connecting to sources of additional enrichment data and analytics dramatically improves optimization project outcomes and shortens the amount of time it takes to complete them.

Wang agrees, “We have to get the data quality in place. We can’t do it manually. If you don’t currently have it in your budget for 2019, this is something you need to put in as a line item.”

The caveat
Compiling asset data is just the first step. Lopez also outlined three issues with data quality that hinder accurate analysis:

  1. Inconsistent Data results when information discovered about an asset comes from different sources. As an example: software vendors might have 10 different variations of their products. Or a single software instance could have 20 different variations based on the packaging, the bundle, etc.
  2. Inaccurate Information can cause unexpected outcomes that could have a big effect on the business. Studies show 50 to 75 percent of data can be inaccurate. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) are implemented, clean data will be essential.
  3. Irrelevant Data is information scooped up in the automated discovery process that isn’t needed and is sometimes as high as 95 percent of the data collected.

Additional benefits add up
In addition to addressing compliance issues, ongoing inventory and analysis of the asset landscape provides the data you need to renegotiate contracts to better meet the needs of your organization, figure out if you are paying too much for user seats or maintenance contracts, or even assess the risks of end-of-life or lack-of-warranty situations.

For ITSM teams, an accurate, comprehensive inventory of the data landscape allows faster, more focused help-desk service to improve employee productivity. Knowing what assets and versions are in-use by each user also speeds up service catalog requests. Plus, clear and accurate visibility of the technology landscape gives intelligent service management tools the ability to identify ongoing problems, look for trends and predict problems before they happen.

Wang also discussed a vision of the future that includes automated processes involving bots, artificial intelligence and cognitive strategies. These processes will improve operational efficiencies by automatically identifying potential threat matrixes and even begin to predict issues and failures to head them off before they hit.

It’s exciting to think about all the ways technology is evolving to improve business performance and the customer experience. To take full advantage of the promise of new technologies, just remember, it takes a firm foundation of technology governance to build on.