Kathy Gibson reports from SMEXA 2014 – Driving a deeper return on IT investments is top of the agenda for both business and IT leaders.

Timothy LaFleur, IAITAM (International Association of Information Technology Asset Managers), says this need is driving a greater awareness of why IT assets need to be managed.

“ITAM is the management of IT assets – it’s not IT in itself,” LaFleur says. ITAM is the programme that connects he IT to the business. The approach should be pre-cradle to post-grave. The IT asset manager should be involved from before the asset is even bought, all the way through the active lifecycle to when it is disposed of.

“ITAM is more than software asset manager or hardware asset management – it touches the whole organisation,” he adds.

It is also a programme, rather than a project, LaFleur says. It never ends. And anyone who touches an IT asset is part of the ITAM programme.

Importantly, ITAM is an executive responsibility. Because ITAM sits between the business and technology, it needs has to fit into the executive responsibility. Traditionally there has been a lack of communication between business and technology over the years, but ITM can help to bridge that gap.

There are a number of concerns that all executives share.

One of these is virtualisation, where executives are worried that workers have the right tools, LaFleur says.

Cloud is a huge concern, with companies looking to save money while protecting data.

Consumerisation is still an issue, with the surge of mobile devices into the organisation. ITAM can help with BYOD management.

Information and information security is a major concern. IT security may be strong, but if the IT organisation doesn’t know what it has, it can’t secure it.

Is the organisation ready for the next big thing? That’s the question all executives ask. And innovation is rapidly becoming a new concern as companies strive to differentiate themselves.

“ITAM can help executives to converge the organisational value across both IT systems and business units,” he says.

To make sure the programme is successful, IT organisations have to craft policies in areas like acquisition, data security disposal, vendor communications, anti-piracy and copyright, lost assets, document retention and more. The number of policies and their complexity depends on the organisation’s culture.

Good reasons for implementing ITAM include financial elements like ensuring a good return on investment, lowering the total cost of ownership, having an accurate fixed asset register, and the ability to do IT budgeting with accurate charge-backs and service costing model (SCM).

Managing risk is another reason to consider ITAM, with security of both the data and the physical asset coming under the spotlight. Theft must always be a concern as well, he adds. Privacy and personal information protection also need to be considered before data is stored on BYO devices.

Productivity means that IT asset standards need to be met, but managing to the exception is key. Automation of processes means organisations can implement repeatable processes. Defined processes help to ensure that roles and responsibilities are clear.

“This is a lot of work, but you will reap the benefits,” LaFleur says.

The results of adding productivity include faster order fulfilments while easing adoption of and support for new technologies. Meanwhile re-use of IT assets can help to save the company money.

“ITAM will affect future decisions,” says LaFleur. “It is a critical element in controlling both physical and virtual assets. Having good data is an imperative to making good decisions.”

Shifting drivers based on financial, risk and productivity trends can be more nimbly addresses if consistent management practices are in place.

“IT assets are unlike other assets. Once we understand this, we can address the problems. Importantly, the ITAM arrangements you make now will impact your company in the future.”

In addition, ITAM can enable IT security by letting IT organisations map and manage assets while establishing and monitoring standards.

IT organisations will be happy to know that it helps to manage virtualisation and the new issue of BYOD trends.

“Because business as usual needs to successful, they really have to know what they have,” LaFleur says. “ITAM can reduce infrastructure costs and activities which can account for 60% to 70% of all technology spend.”