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Next generation asset management: From niche to key in enterprise management

Apr 17, 20064 mins
Asset Management Software

* When asset management intersects with other management disciplines

Over the last several years, I have written newsletters about what I called, variously, “asset performance management,” or “business resource management,” or “next-generation asset management.” These terms all, however, represent the same phenomenon as viewed from only slightly different perspectives.

Next-generation asset management represents the intersection of asset management with multiple IT processes and disciplines. It also has architectural requirements – most obviously good discovery capabilities to support inventory and integration with some type of help desk or service desk to support the administration of changes as required by IT service customers. But intersections with other management disciplines will demand other types of capabilities such as configuration management, workflow, analytics, and data sharing that will lead to design points supportive of something like a configuration management database (CMDB), where an asset becomes a configuration item or CI viewed seamlessly in multiple dimensions based on role and requirement.

The analogy I use most often to explain next-generation asset management is that of a U.S. Olympic team. Traditional asset management would categorize each athlete according to eye color, hair color, height, weight, town of origin, and affiliated event. Next-generation asset management would include information on how fast that athlete runs the 100-yard dash or swims 500 meters, how the athlete gets along with other athletes on the team, the athlete’s physical and emotional strengths and weaknesses, and how central the athlete is to America’s medal strategy. In other words, next-generation asset management views assets not only as objects that require lifecycle management in terms of cost, maintenance, and ownership – it views assets as contributing performers.

The intersections of asset management with disciplines ranging from change and configuration management, to service and help desk, to capacity planning, to service planning, and ultimately even to disciplines such as incident and problem management and service level management – become critical points of discussion as asset management evolves. Most obviously, in large enterprises where there can be as many as 2,000 adds, moves and changes a day, the intersection of asset management with change and configuration management is essential. It has to be done seamlessly and in automated fashion.

But more interestingly, once you see assets in terms of their performance history – it may help you resolve problems more quickly. If a device is a consistently poor performer, you may also want to retire it early. And if you have solid records by device and brand on mean-time-to-repair and mean-time-between-failure, you may make some different investment decisions next time around.

EMA is about to launch its first major research program to help organizations invest in next-generation asset management solutions. EMA is already contacting upwards of 20 vendors in asset management, service accounting and demand profiling, and telecommunications resource management in an attempt to provide a descriptive foundation for understanding what these vendors offer to next-generation asset management.

Service accounting and demand profiling are included because EMA believes that IT services, which are virtually IT products, are also IT’s greatest single assets. That understanding how that asset is utilized (consumed), how much it costs, and its criticality to business consumers, will eventually become the foundation for all asset management – in a parent/child relationship. Assets are, after all, from a value and contribution perspective, only components of a business service.

Telecommunications resource management is being included because, well, managing outside services effectively has always been a critical part IT financial planning. It’s just been done schizophrenically in the past, without a consistent “world view” for integrating costs and planning.

EMA recognizes that there are process, cultural and organizational implications to this line of thinking – and while the current report is an assessment of available technologies – we will welcome dialog with you on these, in many respects, thornier issues.

If you want to share perspectives on how your organization is or isn’t moving towards a ‘next-generation asset model,” or if you feel you have a unique technology solution in support of “next-generation asset management” – please contact me.