By Jay Scroggins, BDNA
The rapid migration of nearly all business processes to digital mediums, not to mention the crush of networked devices heading our way as part of the Internet of Things tidal wave – has made it a nearly impossible feat to manually align and manage an enterprise’s IT assets. However, these assets are the backbone of the modern day business environment. Instituting a common IT language enriched with valuable asset data is the most reliable way to ensure alignment, mitigate risk and reduce unnecessary spending across an enterprise.
Just as a house cannot be safely built on a crooked concrete slab, neither can an enterprise function efficiently if it lacks a stable foundation – a common IT language executed and maintained across the enterprise. Shockingly, this fundamental aspect of any foundation is too often viewed as too difficult an undertaking, or overlooked altogether.
The Road to Software Mismanagement
It may sound like classic IT humor, but the following scenario plays out in the business environment regularly. A company orders a new software asset, “Software Suite II.” When it comes time to install the new software, one department names it Software Suite II; another calls it Software Suite 2 and still another labels it Software.Suite.II. With this lack of alignment they have effectively created three separate records for three different applications. Without knowing to look for those three distinct names it will be impossible for this company to determine going forward how many installs of the software actually exist.
This is a simplified example, and the task of agreeing on and maintaining the name of a piece of software seems basic enough, but when multiplied across every software and hardware asset that is connected to a network, the variables become too great to be manually managed. Using a foundational common language ensures continuity and uniformity across the software asset management lifecycle, regardless of how many different departments it touches. Even within the most sophisticated organizations, groups can become isolated over time on their own IT islands and develop their own languages.
Common Language Delivers
In reality, the ramifications of such scenarios are far from funny. In one case, one of our clients – a large financial institution – implemented for the first time a common nomenclature as they underwent a software optimization process looking for potential cost-savings. In doing so, the client was able to see for the first time that it had 52 separate business analytics tools installed across the network. Once they could see all of these assets, they were able to enforce their enterprise standards and eliminate 37 extraneous software assets that served the same function and consequently achieved an annual cost savings between $10MM and $12MM – and this was for just one category of software applications. Within that company there remained many more millions of dollars in potential savings that could be realized by implementing the common language across the enterprise and the same can be said for countless organizations.
This example is drawn from our work with a large, Fortune 50 organization, but no enterprise is too small to benefit from implementing a common IT asset language. In addition to keeping all assets aligned and accounted for through a definitive catalog, it is now possible to have that information enriched with the valuable data that allows an enterprise to be proactive in areas ranging from license audits to software end-of-life migrations.
Impact on Vendor Audits
Accurate IT data mitigates the risk of vendor audits by tracking and bringing transparency to an enterprise’s license obligations. Uncertainty always works in software vendors’ favor when it comes time for a license true-up, and it’s a particularly welcome revenue stream at a time when enterprises have tightened their belts and reduced their software buys. The best thing an enterprise can do to protect itself from hefty fines is to place control points at the front of an asset’s lifecycle to ensure it is proactively managed, rather than having to react after they are hit by a vendor audit.
For any organization with the potential to one day find itself staring down the barrel of a software license audit, the risk can be viewed as a simple analysis equation: do we want to manually manage our software licenses and assume the financial risk of failing to keep up, or do we want to assign that risk to an automated catalog that continuously tracks and manages that data? Outsourcing this information’s upkeep ensures its maintenance is always a priority.
Migrating systems and processes when a foundational piece of software reaches its support end-of-life is always costly, but never more-so than when this deadline comes unexpectedly. When an enterprise is caught unaware by sun-setting software, it is often forced to pay the vendor a premium for continued support (or risk forgoing support entirely – a truly frightening prospect).
But when a software end-of-life date is reliably tracked and appropriately flagged, users have ample time to plan a migration roadmap. They can be thoughtful as they choose new software and can undertake a timely transition that will save the organization money and countless headaches.
A Strong Foundation
The risks of failing to institute a standardized foundation across an enterprise cannot be overestimated. Conversely, neither can the benefits of what can be thought of as a “Rosetta Stone” for the entire asset management lifecycle; bringing the many members of an enterprise out of their silos and under a common IT umbrella. A common language can break the cycle of costly reactions, putting the power of a proactive approach back in your organization’s hands.