IT assets are the gears that keep modern organizations running. But as organizations grow and embrace all kinds of productivity-enhancing technologies, such as cloud and mobile computing, it becomes easy to lose track of them and, consequently, fail to comply with regulations and license agreements, which is where IT asset management comes in.
Understanding the Cost of Non-Compliance
Losing track of IT assets and failing to comply with regulations and license agreements as a result is a huge problem because the cost of non-compliance is getting higher every year. According to a study by the Ponemon Institute and Globalscape, the average cost for organizations that experience non-compliance problems had increased by 45% since 2011, reaching $14.82 million.
One reason why the cost of non-compliance is increasing has to do with the fact that organizations today need to keep track of not only local and national industry regulations but also international regulations like the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
There’s a lot that organizations can do to achieve and maintain regulatory compliance. One important practice that has received far less attention than it deserves is IT asset management (ITAM), which is about more than just creating a list of all software and hardware IT assets used by an organization.
What Is IT Asset Management?
IT asset management is defined by Techopedia as “a combination of business processes and practices that encompass financial, contractual, and inventory processes in order to support life cycle management and enable strategic decision making for the organization.”
Simply put, IT asset management helps organizations utilize existing assets to their full potential, and it also helps them acquire the assets that can meet their needs the best by informing their decision-making.
Without IT asset management, it’s easy for both software and hardware IT assets to exist within the organization outside the control of the IT department or provider of managed IT services. Such assets are referred to as shadow IT, and more than three in four respondents (77%) to Entrust Datacard’s survey of 1,000 IT professionals agreed that it would become a major issue at their companies if left unchecked.
Shadow IT is making so many experts nervous because it creates an environment in which malware thrives and compliance with industry regulations and software licenses is virtually impossible to achieve due to shadowy assets being unpatched, misconfigured, or used in violation of their terms of service.
For these and other reasons, all organizations that care about compliance and don’t want to risk regulatory fines should embrace IT asset management as soon as possible.
Why Is IT Asset Management Critical for Compliance?
As we’ve already touched upon, IT asset management plays a critical role in helping organizations of all sizes achieve regulatory compliance. Let’s take a closer look at what makes it so useful.
1. Regulatory Compliance
Jane Disbrow, an analyst at Gartner Inc., highlighted the critical importance of IT asset management when she asked the following question: “If you don’t know where all your laptops and software are located, how can you tell regulatory bodies that customer information is being kept private?”
Indeed, organizations whose assets exist in the shadows have no idea where sensitive customer information is located and how it’s secured. Some employees might be taking it home with them on USB flash drives or storing it in their personal cloud storage services. IT asset management helps shine a light on these shadowy information flows to avoid costly data breaches.
2. Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities
Cybercriminals are actively looking for unpatched software applications, poorly secured cloud services, and outdated hardware devices with known vulnerabilities, and they don’t hesitate to take advantage of them whenever they get the chance.
Because of the cloud computing boom and the proliferation of bring-your-own-device policies across organizations of all sizes, it has become extremely difficult to keep track of software and hardware assets without an IT asset management system in place—let alone keep the same assets secured.
3. License Management
In 2021, IT spending on enterprise software is expected to reach $492 billion worldwide, an increase of 7.2% from the previous year. While organizations are spending more money on software than ever before, information compiled by International Data Corporation (IDC) shows that 56% of audits result in additional charges to compensate for historical under-licensing.
With IT asset management, organizations can avoid such charges and optimize their license spending based on their real needs—not rough projections and estimations, which are especially unreliable when it comes to the Software as a Service (SaaS) licensing model.
Meeting complex regulatory requirements and keeping track of a growing number of software licenses is no easy task, especially not without IT asset management in place. The good news is that getting started with this essential practice is not difficult, especially if you choose Aligned Technology Solutions as your trusted partner and let us empower your organization with best-in-class IT asset management solutions.