Traditional asset management has been a fairly niche discipline, typically limited by domain, with network and systems assets often managed separately. But EMA is documenting new trends in asset management that will make it more strategically valuable to senior executives. Rather than viewing asset management as merely managing the acquisition of isolated components, this “next generation asset management” (NGAM) begins with the service as product, and provides a dynamic system to manage it from a lifecycle and business planning perspective.
Two of the key drivers for NGAM are accountability and business alignment. IT organizations are becoming a more visible business investment, and with higher visibility comes the ongoing responsibility to document and socialize the values IT services are delivering to business objectives. NGAM can provide a means to demonstrate the quality, performance, costs and values associated with IT services, and therefore offers a way to change perceptions of enterprise IT away from “cost center” and toward its rightful place as an internal provider of business-critical services.
NGAM intersects with a whole host of management disciplines, working in conjunction with service accounting and telecommunications resource management and integrating with other disciplines from change, configuration and release management, to incident and problem management, to capacity planning and security, among others. For example, NGAM integrates change, configuration and release management with provisioning new assets and retiring end-of-life assets without disrupting IT services. While IT service planning can leverage financial and inventory insights into assets relevant to provisioning new services or extending existing ones.
Doing all of this goes far beyond traditional asset management tools and will require new organizational, process and even political models for it to fully come of age. Taking a holistic view of asset management not as an island but rather as the heartbeat within the larger IT organism means that factors such as support for Configuration Management Database (CMDB) systems and integration with capacity, change, service management, and service accounting or chargeback must rise in priority. And in fact, EMA’s consulting organization is working to support many CMDB deployments targeted at some form of asset management, quite often as a chief first-phase goal.
For many IT executives, this may require rethinking existing asset management strategies. At the outset it may simply lead to merging accurate inventory with other asset management tools and processes, but over the long haul it will necessitate linking assets to value—and the value IT provides is in the delivery of services. As it evolves, NGAM can help organizations answer key questions surrounding its actual contributions to the business from a cost and value perspective. What are its most important services? Who’s using them—and for what purposes are they using them? What do they cost to develop, provision and sustain, and what is their associated TCO?
Armed with this knowledge, an organization can establish a foundation for IT planning, including making new investments (or not) based on complete knowledge of the asset base and on accurate insights into current business needs. By getting their own houses in order and understanding their true needs and usage patterns, IT managers can negotiate contracts and leases from a position of strength.