April 06, 2020

The Here and Now of Asset Management Considerations for COVID-19

As more and more organisations are rapidly moving their workforce to work from home (“WFH”) on a large scale, it is becoming clear there are emerging challenges presenting that couldn’t have been predicted even six months ago.

A significant challenge for many Data#3 customers is access to end user training/adoption for new collaboration technology, which is being rapidly deployed in an effort to keep teams connected during this time of social distancing and isolation. Other, more predictable IT challenges include security, capacity, bandwidth, software licensing and a whole raft of other non-technical considerations organisations are now grappling with. What has become abundantly clear is that COVID-19 has changed the way we work today and will leave an imprint for the way we work in the future. Another challenge that won’t be front of mind during this pandemic for lots of organisations (and unbelievably wasn’t for some even before COVID-19) is IT Asset Management (“ITAM”).

Why is ITAM especially important now?

Organisations are now seeing more end user computing devices than ever go off network. Not only are there more devices out of the office and off network, but there may also be additional peripherals such as monitors, keyboards, wireless access points, and printers. Furthermore, for organisations  who have traditionally deployed desktop devices, they will be looking to virtual desktop technology as a quick solution to enable employees to WFH on their personal devices while the hardware supply chain recovers and mobile devices can be sourced and shipped to employees homes where required.

For those organisations who can secure supply, how will they provision the devices while away from the network (as they will likely be delivered to people’s homes)? Will you use a program like Microsoft Intune to enable this capability? Does your organisation have the required licenses and skills to enable this? How quickly can you mobilise this technology? The questions keep mounting!

Looking at this challenge from another lens (the ITAM lens), organisations will face an immediate challenge, and will need to plan for a future challenge post the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Immediate ITAM Challenge – Hardware Asset Management

Organisations make a significant investment in hardware assets and peripherals. They now have the task of keeping track of these devices as they leave the corporate network and head to employee’s homes en masse.  Maintaining visibility of these devices has never been more important. Some of the key data points that  need to be recorded include:

  • What assets do we have?
  • Who has what asset?
  • Where is each asset going?

Organisations will need to make sure the asset is returned to the organisation after the COVID-19 pandemic has passed, as they don’t want to have to have unbudgeted spend risk and a requirement for new devices.

For some organisations, keeping track of equipment will come easily, as the foundational investment in Hardware Asset Management is already in place. Investments in inventory and discovery technologies have built the foundational capability required to understand where the IT Asset is at all times, and who is using it. Having a dynamic register significantly reduces the manual effort to build and maintain a static register, while also reducing the risk of human error or omissions in the data.

For organisations who don’t yet have this level of maturity in ITAM, this unprecedented time will unearth these shortfalls, which could sit on any side of the golden triangle (people, process and technology). Some common issues experienced in this trying time include:

  • Insufficient devices with the hardware supply chain broken. “How do I get more hardware assets when my employees need them?”
  • Inability to maintain visibility of assets when offsite or remote
  • Inability to track and record who is using/taking what asset where,
  • Inability to tell if asset hardware specifications are robust enough to manage the additional strain of more multitasking in resource-hungry applications (i.e. Cisco Webex, Microsoft Teams, Google Chrome and Microsoft Excel)

ITAM Challenge – Unbudgeted Software Spend and Software as a Service Sprawl

Organisations are mobilising their WFH strategies at an unprecedented pace. Microsoft reported the addition of 12 million new users for Microsoft Teams in a single week [1]. When these free trials expire, and the businesses dependency on the solutions remains, where is the budget going to come from to keep these (now possibly critical) systems going? Unbudgeted spend will be a serious challenge once the COVID-19 pandemic passes.

Organisations right now need to consider their software budgets for life after COVID-19 and what additional funding they will need for technology that will now be embedded in the organisation’s application portfolio. Likely activities to be conducted post COVID-19 will include:

  • More application rationalisation reviews to reduce the flux of ‘self-sourced Software as a Service (“SaaS”)’ solutions by end users while WFH,
  • Reviewing contracts for optimisation opportunities once the workforce returns to a ‘new normal’

Having a platform to track the software being deployed and used across the organisation is critical to enable the cost savings that will be expected to recover expenditure in other areas during the COVID-19 pandemic. For lots of organisations, money is being spent now to keep the business functioning. After COVID-19, savings will be expected to help regain financial positions.

Technology Intelligence Solutions will be the game changers for organisations who want to reduce risk and cost. For organisations who already invest in these types of solutions, it will no doubt have helped ensure that they maintained complete visibility around their IT Assets, their users and that they have considered ongoing licensing requirements.

For organisations who don’t yet have this level of maturity in ITAM, this unprecedented time will unearth these shortfalls, which could sit on any side of the golden triangle (people, process and technology). Some common issues we are hearing in this trying time include;

  • Insufficient licensing for conferencing and collaboration solutions to meet the new demands of the remote workforce,
  • Inability to see which devices have the appropriate security software installed to keep the device secure on and off the network.
  • Inability to keep track of new SaaS solutions entering the eco-system bringing potential security risks with them
  • Inability to accurately budget due to limited visibility into new software being rapidly deployed to keep the business running.

What are the next steps?

With so much uncertainty and the COVID-19 situation changing daily, it can be daunting to think of what lies ahead for any organisation. To help get a deeper understanding of where your organisation stands with its current asset management, reach out to Data#3’s Asset Management Specialists to learn how our asset management solutions can help.

1. CRN (2020) Microsoft Adds 12M Users For Teams In One Week [Online] Available at: https://www.crn.com.au/news/microsoft-adds-12m-users-for-teams-in-one-week-539597