Economic pressures force changes in asset mgmt.

* Asset management software now has to account for bad economy

Over the last 20 years, the IT industry has developed an incredibly sophisticated array of tools and strategies for managing IT assets. Today's inventory tracking, software license management, desktop configuration management and other asset lifecycle management technologies and processes offer unprecedented levels of functionality.

Unfortunately, these sophisticated asset management products and strategies also have one major, common flaw: They weren't designed to operate in the current economy.

Most early asset management technology was designed to help IT departments manage rapid growth. Between the PC explosion of the 1980s and the economic boom of the 1990s, most IT departments have - until now - been seeking ways to help control and track the introduction of new users, equipment and applications across the enterprise.

In the current economy, however, managing growth is the least of most IT managers' worries. With budgets at a low ebb, IT departments now are using asset management processes to reclaim and repurpose their resources, making the best possible use of available equipment and software and eliminating unneeded expenditures.

This shift in economic forces is causing the entire asset management process to be turned on end. Rather than seeking simple inventory data, IT administrators now need to know exactly how (or whether) their assets are being used. Rather than ensuring that software has been deployed to the broadest possible audience, IT administrators now are searching for ways to limit the use of software to users who truly need it. Rather than seeking for ways to quickly provision large groups of new users, IT administrators are hunting for the means to reclaim assets from users or organizations that are no longer present.

These changes in process also will necessitate some changes in asset management technology. While older asset management tools were designed to collect inventory data in a growing, changing enterprise, emerging asset management tools must collect and analyze usage information. While older asset management tools were designed to aid in deployment of new assets, emerging tools must focus on the complete lifecycle - from evaluating requirements, to deployment and upgrade, to disposal of unused or outdated hardware and software.

The use of asset management tools also is changing in financially squeezed enterprises. Where asset-tracking data historically has been used by primarily by IT staff, today's asset information may also be employed by executives and financial staff to evaluate the need and potential return of IT technology investments. Today's asset management tools are more likely to be used to help control costs than to facilitate simple IT inventory functions.

How are economic and business pressures changing your organization's approach to IT asset management? What are the key drivers behind your asset management initiatives, and what makes them succeed (or fail)? These questions are at the heart of a new survey Enterprise Management Associates is conducting on its Web site, http://www.enterprisemanagement.com

In this short survey, we hope to identify some of the recent shifts in asset management processes, as well as new demands on asset management technology.

Please click on the link above and take a few minutes to answer our short asset management survey. Later this month, the responses will be tallied and the results will be shared with the readers of this column. If you choose, you may fill out the survey anonymously (although we do ask for some demographics of your enterprise). Or if you like, you can provide written comments and/or contact information so that we can get more details on your experiences with asset management.

Take a moment and answer the EMA survey right now. We'll return in a few weeks to share the results.

Learn more about this topic

Tight economy puts spotlight on asset mgmt. tools

Network World, 08/05/02

The evolution of asset management

Network World Network Systems Management Newsletter, 09/03/01

Buyer's guide: Desktop management suites

Network World, 02/10/03

Computer Associates streamlines data management

Network World, 02/10/03

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