Spent last Tues-Fri in Las Vegas at the Aria, at the annual IAITAM (International Association of IT Asset Managers) conference. It was a good show. There was some buzz at the opening keynote about a major announcement, which turned out to be the establishing of a program for IT Asset Management via Taft University. (I searched for an online source, but not available yet.)

I spent quite a bit of time with Steve Klos of Tagvault.org, the nonprofit organization charged with evangelizing the concept of software tagging to the industry. (See my interview with Steve.) While there are any number of skeptics regarding tagging, it’s clear that Steve and Tagvault have a sound, well thought out strategy. US government procurement is not just a gorilla, it’s a blue whale, and if US agencies start insisting on software tagging in order to reduce their audit exposure, it’s only a matter of time before the rest of the industry follows suit.

I was also privileged to spend a bit of time with Barb Rembiesa, IAITAM CEO, who was also awarded an honorary doctorate by Taft. We talked about about the Master’s program, which was just approved the previous Friday. It will feature 12 process areas, reflecting an overall “plan to retire” IT asset value stream.

Lots of great networking on the show floor and in between sessions. I continued to hear about tensions between IT Asset Management and Operations; ITAM as a “cross functional” process seems to still have problems with the Ops silo. I also attended some discussions of CMDB and its relationship to ITAM – one point of view offered up (and with which I differ) is the ever-popular “just model your most critical services in the CMDB.” I don’t think the advocates of that approach realize how impractical that really is, in terms of having repeatable, consistent processes.

Stopped by the HP booth and had a great discussion about the IT asset lifecycle in the general context of business intelligence for IT and their IT Executive Scorecard. I’ve been proposing that the industry do more with IT lifecycle value: over the years, what is the mix of value adding versus non value adding time for a given asset or service? If we consider the time spent acquiring, configuring, maintaining, and retiring an asset as non-value add, and divide the remaining time (starting with a “go-live” Change and ending with its final “service removal” Change) against its entire lifecycle (from plan to retire) we get a useful value metric. (See my book for more on this.)

Roll up that metric for all assets, and you get an indicator you could call Realized IT Asset Value, or Asset Lifecycle Value, or something. Someone told me that there is already a standard supply chain or industrial engineering metric for this, but I can’t find it, and while the IT asset management guidance I’ve seen calls for “lifecycle management,” it doesn’t go the next step of calling for a high level KPI on when the asset is operational (and therefore adding value) in its lifecycle, versus when it’s not. This is the kind of KPI I like, because it’s not too low level, and can drive good behavior down through the organization if everyone is focused on it. I think that this is an IT asset metric a CEO could love. I know the data is there for the most part in ITAM systems, if they are at all well managed.

Wanting to give credit where due, so if I’m rediscovering something already developed, please drop me a line. It’s a pretty obvious idea.

Also spent some quality time with the folks from Blazent, who are working on a different approach to IT analytics. They start by front ending their repository with a profiling capability, so that data in various formats can easily be mapped in. I’m looking forward to hearing more on their vision for IT performance management.

Stopped by the Aspera booth, who reminded me again that software asset management starts with understanding entitlements – NOT discovering what you have and then working backwards. Hard to argue with, when you think about it. Also spent time with folks from Flexera, iQuate, Eracent, Numara, Microsoft, Dell, 1E, Apptria, Express Metrix, xAssets, and others. Microsoft reps indicated they are supportive of the ISO-19770 standards; Microsoft seems to be distinguishing itself among major ISVs in having a software asset management best practices education arm (targeting their customers) that is completely separate from audit and enforcement.

It was interesting that up to a third of the vendors were in the disposal space. As IT matures, resources become more precious, and environmental regulations become more stringent, we’re seeing a real boom in the disposal space. Spent some quality time with Jim Kegley, the president of US Micro (the conference’s platinum sponsor). They just opened a state of the art recycling facility in Las Vegas, predicated on a “no landfills” reclamation approach to IT assets. Kudos to them for continuing to advance the state of the art in this necessary area.

Finally, as one who attends a lot of conferences, I always try to point out where the community may have a blind spot. In this case (and unsurprisingly) I think the blind spot is service management. IT assets are used for IT services. If you don’t understand the value of the IT services it supports, the IT asset is just a cost to be minimized. I’d love to see the ITAM community explore this side of the equation more.

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