Dangers of IT asset management ignorance

Having a first hand account of their assets is critical for any business that is about embark in some dealmaking, so why are IT assets such a low priority for so many organisations?

Mergers and acquisitions are a regular feature of global markets. Whether it is the resources space or the financial sector, healthy dealmaking is a sign of a vibrant market. Sealing the perfect deal requires an organisation to have a first hand account of their assets and while there are many tasks that need to be completed following a merger, IT asset management usually doesn't rank high on the list of priorities.

This can be an expensive mistake for many businesses. One that can cost a business a lot more than just money. Apart from the cost of maintaining unnecessary equipment and paying for duplicate licences that are not being used, companies that don’t have a grip on their IT assets in a merger also face exposure to financial and compliance risks.

Not knowing what you have or not using, can cost you. Vendors and regulators are always looking for either additional audit revenue or to fine organisations that are found to be non-compliant.  If your organisation is already in the media as a result of the merger or acquisition, the last thing you’ll want is any negative publicity by having the wrong licensing for your IT assets.

Given these implications, can CIOs and IT managers afford not to implement an asset management solution that would put them in control of their spending?

CIOs and IT managers have a myriad of issues to address especially with regards to which IT assets their organisations have and how they can better streamline these assets to reduce the cost of managing and securing a mix of devices, operating systems and users.

IDC’s Worldwide IT Asset Management Software 2011-2015 Forecast reports that in addition to the increasing importance of IT asset management software in dealing with cloud infrastructures, multiple device support is also playing a role.

Some key points that CIOs and IT managers need to consider when embarking on the complex exercise of combining the assets of two companies after a merger or acquisition:

  • How do I know whether the other company's IT assets will integrate with ours?
  • Are these assets capable of running our "Standard Operating Environment"?
  • Is the software installed on the other company's machines properly licensed?
  • Will I be paying for software that no one is actually using?

Even if an organisation has purchased licences for all of the software installed across the company, it’s not always clear just what agreements you actually have with each of the vendors. Therefore, it’s important that you do a thorough check of what licences you have and which ones you actually need.

Having a centrally administered, automated, enterprise-wide inventory collection and asset recognition process provides organisations with a view of their IT assets in real time. The benefits of having such a system in place include increased operational efficiency, by only paying for what is used and less time being spent on managing IT assets, enabling the team to focus on other tasks.

A good asset management system enables an organisation to capture all changes to your asset inventory as they occur. This includes every time a business buys new hardware or software, moves a machine, change its configuration, change owner or dispose of assets. 

The perfect solution enables a business to view both where an organisation is over spending and where it faces potential risks.

A good IT asset management solution should have certain key elements such as a fully integrated inventory and licensing, usage and contract management capability. Furthermore, the ability to natively "plug in" to any infrastructure will greatly assist organisations in coming up to speed quickly in knowing what IT assets it has following a merger or acquisition.

Having a clear picture of what’s in the environment, where it is, who has it, and who’s using it, plays a critical role in making the right decisions from a business (cost) and compliance (licensing) standpoint, and ultimately provides greater control over IT assets.

Chris Gacesa is a Senior Product Manager with Novell.