The digital universe is expanding
“The digital universe is expanding.” This elegant statement by Gartner neatly describes the ever-broadening scope of technological activity that will markedly impact all businesses in significant fashion. The increasing consumerisation and availability of technology products has eroded a portion of the IT department’s authority in dictating the makeup of a firm’s IT environment. IT managers will have to develop a greater grasp of technology and management trends to avoid being shut out by other business units on matters of technology purchases.
All of this leads to a very direct question: What is an IT asset? Do we solely consider physically-tangible technological objects like smartphones as assets, or does the term encapsulate the virtual applications that work through them? What about IT services? In continually responding to such questions from our clients, Cimpl’s President, Christopher Thierry, had the following interesting and practical insight: They are all assets – the key is to conceptualize them all in an accessible format.
Which brings us to what we call “Enterprise Digital Footprint (Enterprise Asset Management 2.0)”.
Enterprise Digital Footprint
After much research and thought, Christopher created a quadrant framework that really builds on the core tenets of enterprise asset management (hence the “2.0” in the title). Enterprise Digital Footprint (Enterprise Asset Management 2.0) very neatly categorizes all IT services and physical objects in businesses. The quadrant framework has two axes with the following endpoints:
- Axis 1: Physical Assets to Virtual Assets
- This is obviously more of a dichotomy than a continuum, but it works well as an axis nonetheless.
- Axis 2: Infrastructure to End-user
With these two axes, four distinct quadrants are realized:
- End-users / Virtual Assets: These include all of the services and software used by your employees over the course of their daily work. Examples include Salesforce.com or Office365.
- End-Users / Physical Assets: These are all the devices used by individual end-users (most of whom do not belong to the IT department) to access the assets described in the above quadrant. Any items that can be physically counted and associated with an end-user (e.g., VPN tokens and smartphones) would be classified under this quadrant.
- Infrastructure / Virtual Assets: With the growing pervasiveness of cloud computing, even physical servers no longer have to be confined to company premises. There are now virtual servers as well – i.e., virtual infrastructure. Effectively, this a case of assets being assigned to the company itself rather than any single end-user. This is obviously necessary – virtual infrastructure assets still need to be tracked and managed, and their costs must be accounted for. Beyond virtual servers, wireline or wireless contracts and specific software licences also belong in this quadrant.
- Infrastructure / Physical Assets: Of course, many businesses still deploy physical servers, among other “hard-copy” infrastructure assets. These can (and should be) physically counted and labelled. Because they serve a wide number of end-users, they are usually assigned to a department, branch, or even the entire company. This category encapsulates important items such as servers and PBX, but can also include more mundane objects like furniture.
The beauty in neatly visualizing information is that patterns become immediately obvious. In our case, once we went through the exercise of populating the quadrants we realized that the quadrant in the upper-right (i.e., “End-user/Virtual Assets) is growing extremely quickly. Additionally, progressively greater numbers of these services are being billed on a per-user basis.
A further, and perhaps more important realization is that established players in IT asset management do not currently track these assets. They merely track assets that fall in the infrastructure side of the quadrant. Now, we cannot speak for others, but we at Cimpl see this lack of activity as an opportunity lost. All assets in a company can and should be tracked so that the firm can better manage assets to reduce costs and drive revenue. Of course, without a tool in place to do this tracking, the exercise can be overwhelming.
That’s why our signature product, Cimpl, offers a catalogue management module that easily assigns tracked assets into one of the four quadrant categories. With this catalogue mapping, users have unlimited flexibility in adding or mapping new assets. Importantly, this quadrant mapping will give users a very clear and clean insight into their costs and usage. It is the method through which we saw the growing trend, and it should give users easy transparency into the technology usage that drives their companies.
A Final Word…
Cimpl’s Enterprise Digital Footprint (Enterprise Asset Management 2.0) is a frame of reference, and it can be a potentially very useful tool. However, like all other tools, it will not confer any advantages without a suitable environment. Users have to have the right mindset to profit from Enterprise Digital Footprint (Enterprise Asset Management 2.0). Fortunately, the ROI on using this quadrant is substantial; this makes it worthwhile to adopt and employ this framework!
This is a new way of viewing asset management, please let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. In the meantime, contact us if you need help categorizing and tracking all your IT and telecom resources! We’re Canada’s leader in IT and telecom expense management, and we will give you transparency over your assets!