If there ever was a part of life where the saying “what you don’t know can’t hurt you” is dead wrong, it would be with information technology asset management (ITAM). For small businesses, ITAM is all about knowing what technology you have, keeping track of it, making sure it is not used against you, and then disposing of it properly.
For 2020, the International Association of IT Asset Managers (IAITAM) is highlighting key issues that will help small business owners ensure that customer data is secure, steer clear of compliance fines and generate return on investment.
Our list includes: “ghost contracts” and software licensing headaches; cloud security concerns (with “anything as a service” or XaaS); and the use of IT Asset Managers as vital business instruments within your organization.
Let’s look at three trends that are worthy of your attention right now …
Trend Number One –
Software Licensing & Ghost Contract Headaches
Each piece of software comes with a contract. The term “ghost contract” refers to a type of URL-based contract, which is electronic and can be changed at the whim of the vendor. URL contracts dominate the market and there is almost no way around them. The reality is that clicking off the ‘I Agree’ is something you should not do automatically. You need to understand the contract. Handing the power of buying these licenses over to anyone in the business is a recipe for disaster. How will you know who has signed up for what? When do the licenses expire? How will “patching” work? This is where consulting a real ITAM professional can help … and, even better, having one in the ranks of your businesses.
Trend Number Two –
Cloud Security Risks
The cloud made huge advances in 2019 and will achieve even more in 2020, and with that will come more and more management challenges. Outsourced vendor relationships that are cloud-based have birthed a concept called “anything as a service” (XaaS), which applies to outsourcing vital IT services, including Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS).
In 2020, most organizations will likely be using at least one of these cloud-based offerings. Outsourcing XaaS can help make operations more efficient, but there are real risks, including the assumption that third parties will provide security (which they, in fact, may not). You need to know that you are dealing with a reputable firm. You need to continue focusing on security and not assume it is being “magically” addressed in the cloud.
Trend Number Three –
IT Asset Managers Are Essential Resources
Do you have an IT Asset Manager within your organization? As a result of these changing trends, ITAM practitioners are becoming fluent this year in reading “ghost contracts”. They can also help determine whether XaaS (or another type of cloud-based vendor relationship) is appropriate for your organization.
Having robust ITAM practices in place and a trusted ITAM practitioner, can help businesses anticipate unexpected changes to contracts, software license complications or security concerns. Each organization has a responsibility to protect data, which is a primary part of mature ITAM programs. Proactive measures can ensure that businesses remain compliant and ward off fines from regulators and legal proceedings by vendors claiming license violations.
No, you don’t get a pass on needing to address ITAM just because you are a smaller company or other enterprise. And, no, ITAM is not just for Fortune 500 companies. It can be argued that a small company that would be crippled by a regulatory fine (in the wake of a privacy breach) or vendor lawsuit (claiming a licensing violation) needs ITAM help as much or more as a larger corporation that can take such blows in stride. To find an ITAM professional in your area refer to our IAITAM Directory.
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Dr. Barbara Rembiesa is co-founder, president, and CEO of IAITAM (The International Association of IT Asset Managers), a network of professionals in the information technology sector, focused on advanced education and training for individuals and organizations, with more than a thousand members across the globe, in over 100 countries