ITAM – Views from Practitioners

At this year’s Spring Annual Conference and Exhibition (ACE), several IAITAM Fellows attended a selection of presentations, to provide an expert perspective on chosen themes, specifically:

  • ITAM –Views from Practitioners
  • ITAM – Organization, People, Roles & Accountabilities

It is remarkable that, although there are multiple complexities to ITAM, there are many common themes that are not only interrelated but timely for practitioners and the industry.  As IAITAM Fellows we found this to be true in listening to the presentations and preparing the above-referenced articles.

Some common themes were:

  •  Gaining Executive “buy in” continues to be a critical success factor – across the organization, not only IT.
  • Alignment with business requirements and goals is the new “selling point” for ITAM’s value proposition.
  • Increased focus on “governance with facilitation” is part of the most progressive and mature programs.
  • Awareness of a program’s maturity status and goals is a definite requirement in the ITAM space.
  • Marginalization of ITAM tools as the “silver bullet”, as ITAM programs focus more on business aspects such as strategy, governance, policies, and roles and accountabilities.
  • A significant concentration on accurate and normalized data is now a common ITAM best practice.

Theme and why chosen: The theme ITAM –Views from Practitioners was chosen based on my love of keeping current with the “nuts and bolts” of everyday best practices and policies that drive the strategic vision of ITAM going forward.  We all recognize that for far too long the actual “profession of ITAM” has be a grey area in most organizations.  The IAITAM conference has always been safe haven for practitioners and providers to meld together with their innovations and ideas.  It is for this primary reason that I chose to cover the practitioner’s side of the ITAM equation.

Much of my work at this time is based on executive buy in and strategic direction for ITAM programs.  During many of my engagements, once a strategic and multi-year view of ITAM program has been sanctioned by the chief executives in an organization, the then tedious and difficult mission of implementing the vision begins. It is at this point that the practitioners are not only required to deal with the details and day to day implementation of “the vision” but become the central point for any internal and external customer needs as they relate to the technology that is critical to the business.  This very often entails dealing with a vast variety of people, processes and, most importantly, data that supports the strategic ITAM program.

Sessions and Speakers: With our appreciation for their insights and contribution!

Software Asset Management in an Evolving Technical Landscape Luke Marples, Verizon
The SAM Journey at Master Card-Where we are and Where we are Going Mike Trachsel, MasterCard
Maturity of SAM-An Unexpected Voyage Christian Bjork-Nordstrom, SAAB AB
A Click Through Contracts Jennah Bordson, Allianz Life
Demystifying the SAM Safari Kathleen Bugajski & Yesenia Jimenez, The Bank of NY Mellon

General Impressions of the presentations: The presentations represented a wide variety of scope, size and practices that these individual practitioners were using to innovate and provide value within their organizations.  The maturity of the practices and lessons learn also ranged from a beginning to highly matured status.  The approaches, while varied, all represented their ITAM program as an on-going journey with evolving destinations for success that will continue to go forward in the foreseeable future. These practitioners also had significant enthusiasm for their profession as IT Asset Managers and a continuous program to improve as the technology landscape changes.  

Other impressions included:

  • A common belief that ITAM professionals need to be fully aware and well versed in the business goals of their organizations in order to produce an effective and efficient ITAM practice that elevates the visibility of their ITAM program.
  • Gaining executive attention and buy in is a critical success factor for ITAM. One practitioner “challenged their CIO at a town hall” and this is how visibility was gained.
  • Understanding the architectural standards and how they work in an individual’s organization is absolutely necessary for a successful ITAM program. This was a common theme in most of the presentations.
  • All agreed that tools are helpful and necessary but the most important keys to success are:
    • Data Normalization
    • Garnering outside expertise and support when needed
    • Understanding that ITAM is a unique service provider to the customers within their organizations
    • Continuously re-thinking the ITAM paradigm based on changing business and technology landscapes
    • Creating innovation through on-going reviews of the current ITAM practices, policies and governance
    • Having “a seat at the table” while technology decisions are being made. One common technique was to just show up at the meetings if not invited.  This seemed to be much easier in those organizations that had executive backing for the ITAM program.

Relevance of presentations to theme and the industry: These presentations were all relevant to the theme.  In differing degrees, they ranged from the basic “needs” of the traditional ITAM program to some really forward focused programs that I considered to be on the leading edge of the next generation of ITAM programs.  While they all had relevance based on the various maturity levels it was apparent that they all are experiencing a shift in the technology landscape and the types of assets to be managed.  Those that are on the cusp of a service focused approach (meaning packages of assets that need to be managed as a standard service offering to the business) are recasting the traditional asset management lifecycle steps in order to accommodate this new asset class.

Information gained: In addition to the observations above, I note:

  • Knowledge of the data that is used for asset optimization and control is considered to be a “must have” for a successful program in the future
  • Exploring and using the “second generation” ITAM data normalization tools (e.g. Flexera, Aspera, BDNA, etc.) has helped their organizations in the current requirements for a sustainable asset management program. However, the tools are not the answers in and of themselves
  • Enforcing governance while staying “out of the way” of the business needs is the best way to elevate the ITAM program
  • As one of the practitioners outlined moving an ITAM program forward needs the following metamorphosis:
    • Cowardly to Brave
    • Order Taking to Knowledge Based Resource
    • User Friendly to Friendly Users
    • Ad Hoc to Formal
    • Technophobe to Tech Savvy
    • Tool Whipped to Whipping the Tools in Place


Pat Cicala

President and CEO: Cicala & Associates LLC

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IAITAM Liaison Delegate, ISO 19770 (ITAM)

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About Patricia Cicala

Patricia M. Cicala, has over 35 years of experience in the management of technology, with expertise in the areas of IT asset management, procurement, contracts, and strategic technology workplace development. Prior to forming Cicala & Associates, Ms. Cicala was the Vice President and Worldwide Practice Leader for Asset Management and Procurement at Gartner Group, Inc., the leading technology research authority. Prior to her tenure at Gartner, Ms. Cicala founded and developed United Software Services Company, a knowledge-based software services firm which delivered services to more than 35 Fortune 500 Companies. Services provided included software auditing, negotiation planning strategies, and software portfolio management. Ms. Cicala also served previously as Vice President of Worldwide Asset Management and Enterprise Vendor Relations at Citibank/Citicorp. Ms. Cicala is a current member of the ISO WG 21 Software Standards Committee for SAM Standards as a representative to Liason Organization of IAITAM, CXO Executive Forum Director for IAITAM and a newly elected IAITAM fellow.