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Image: IT asset management: trends, challenges and initiatives in an ever-evolving field

IT environments have been undergoing significant change in recent years due in large part to advances in the way we procure and consume resources. The digital transformation of the enterprise is accelerating across all industry verticals, bringing complexities in asset management that were unforeseen just a few short years ago. And while the assets that need to be managed have changed, the underlying requirements of that management have not, bringing challenges to ITAM (IT asset management) practitioners.

These challenges, along with the initiatives planned to address them, are among the details revealed in the Flexera 2022 State of ITAM Report. This second annual report sheds additional light on the focus, makeup and structure of ITAM teams across organizations of all sizes, industries and maturity levels.

The report analyzes the responses of 465 global IT professionals who manage, advise and participate in ITAM activities in organizations of 1,000 or more employees. The report includes a section dedicated to European respondents, illuminating how European ITAM practices are different (or similar) to their North American and global colleagues. The insights gleaned from these responses provide vision into the current and strategic initiatives across these ITAM practices and practitioners.

The where of ITAM influences the what

In the survey, respondents indicated that their ITAM teams reported to numerous different functions within the overall organizational structure. Those teams reporting directly to the C suite (typically CTO or CIO) had the broadest set of software asset management (SAM) responsibilities, and the highest level of interactions across other IT functions within the organization. This situation was even more pronounced with European respondents, where an even larger percentage of ITAM teams report to C-level executives.

Where do ITAM Teams Report in their Organization

European respondents below

Challenges evolve as technologies emerge

While the organizational placement of the ITAM team affects their responsibilities and influence across the organization, their effectiveness is driven by the maturity and experience of their team. As digital transformation continues to expand across the enterprise, ITAM teams in these organizations struggle to keep pace with new technologies, and new procurement and consumption methods for these technologies. More than three-quarters of respondents indicated that increasing the maturity of their SAM practice in the face of these rapidly evolving IT environments was a challenge to their team.  And not surprisingly, dealing with these new technologies and environments, such as SaaS, cloud and containers, followed closely behind.

Sam Challenges Graph

Initiatives and metrics – misaligned?

Not surprisingly, a major initiative in most organizations focuses on cost savings and cost avoidance, and these initiatives permeate their ITAM practices as well. When asked to prioritize their upcoming initiatives across their SAM practice, respondents’ top three selections were all focused on saving money for the organization.

SAM Initiatives Graph

And while this desire for cost savings resonates with all practitioners within the SAM and HAM (hardware asset management) fields, the metrics against which these teams are measured appear to be misaligned with the initiatives they’re being asked to prioritize. Respondents indicated that the top four metrics used to measure their teams’ success are all audit-related, including external audit compliance, maintaining an accurate license position with their vendors, compliance with regulatory or internal audits and compliance with their vendor contracts. As such, ITAM practitioners may find themselves in a difficult position with respect to the initiative/metric equation: they’re being tasked with initiatives on which they’re not measured. Consequently, making progress on these initiatives will be challenging as they may become de-prioritized by individual practitioners as they must also focus on their performance and career goals.

SAM Success Graph

This dichotomy is reflected in the following figure which is pulled from this year’s report, indicating that 83 percent of SAM teams’ time is spent on audit-related activities, which is a 20 percent increase over last year’s 63 percent value.

SAM Audit Graph

The realization that follows from this is that just 17 percent (less than a day per week) is available for these practitioners to pursue the initiatives they’re being tasked with, and that will advance their ITAM processes, tools and expertise.

The purview of the ITAM practitioner is constantly evolving as digital transformation continues to disrupt the traditional roles and responsibilities of the field. Unforeseen challenges will arise as new technologies mature and evolve, and the ITAM practitioner will have to evolve alongside them to continue to provide strategic and economic value to their organization.

The results of this year’s report provide a view into the importance of IT asset management, as well as the challenges and how they’re being addressed by ITAM teams across the industry spectrum. For many more insights and complete survey results, download the Flexera 2022 State of ITAM Report.