In 2021, CIOs will become the secret weapon for growth

As key navigators leading their businesses out of the stormy waters presented by the global pandemic, CIOs should no longer be seen as ‘nerds in chief’, nor should IT teams relegated to the basement surrounded by cables and humming servers. 

We know firsthand now that the closer the IT approaches and overall business strategies are intertwined, the more successful the company is, as those businesses that were able to adapt quickly to change were the ones that not only survived, but thrived during the pandemic. 

According to IDG’s 2021 State of the CIO report, 82 percent of CIOs said they implemented new technologies, IT strategies and/or methodologies due to the impact of the global pandemic. 37 percent say that they increased their IT budgets during this time, proving the necessity of tech for business growth and maintenance.

But the report also highlights the changing role of the CIO, tasked with the creation of new revenue-generating initiatives such as automating business/IT processes and optimizing customer experiences.

As businesses dare to start planning what a post-Covid future might look like, now is the time for enterprises to scale up, become more flexible and embrace new technologies.

Markets are more volatile than ever, margins are shrinking, and the fast movers are the ones going home with the market share. This is exactly why a comprehensive, centralized, bottom-up IT asset management approach is worth so much more than just the sum of its parts. 

Led by the CIO, IT asset management is emerging from the shadows, becoming recognized as a crucial area for efficiency and growth. 

It’s a jungle out there. The number of Internet connected devices has exploded from 12.5 billion in 2010 to over 50 billion today. A new forecast from IDC estimates that there will be 41.6 billion connected IoT devices, or “things,” generating 79.4 zettabytes (ZB) of data by 2025.

The more devices there are in an IT estate, the wider the target zone is. But the investments made in cybersecurity are only as functional as the visibility that CIOs and their IT teams have over their company’s IT assets. 

The moment a single device on a home or business network becomes vulnerable, the entire network is compromised – and no one wants to become a high-profile victim of the world’s next WannaCry.

New approach needed 

If you aren’t aware of every asset on your network, it’s impossible to know the precise purpose and location of the data your company has, or to guarantee its security. Post-GDPR, the penalty for data breaches can reach as high as EUR 20 million.

Gartner reports that 30 percent of all organizations are in a “chaotic” state, meaning they do not know

what they own, where the assets are located or who is using them. Add to that the fact that almost half of all companies only track software assets on a project-by-project basis (rather than holistically), and the potential for blind spots and waste is significant.

CIOs are under tremendous pressure balancing spend and innovation. They must ensure IT teams are tracking, managing and maintaining the IT assets through which technologies are delivered, while at the same time ensuring the business is agile enough to innovate and adapt to constant change.

On top of all that, managing costs and maximizing ROI is critical for long-term success. To this end, IT asset management (ITAM) continues to gain momentum as an enabling discipline, helping IT organizations to accomplish these goals.

But to keep pace with digital transformation and provide the level of visibility and insight needed to ensure security, manage costs and support business initiatives, ITAM needs to evolve from a niche specialty into the foundation for a modern, well-managed IT organization.

This includes being able to quickly react and adapt to situations such as a global pandemic and a significant shift in the way we work. The rapid digital transformation that occurred during the pandemic was the perfect example of a new, unexpected scenario that suddenly emerges and exposes the need for a new approach to IT asset management.

When the pandemic hit, IT teams had to know what was connected to the network in order to secure it and protect the organization. Since the old scenario-specific approach to ITAM was still the norm,  agents had to be installed on laptops. Anything without an agent was invisible to IT – opening up the possibility for bad actors to exploit vulnerabilities, putting organizations at risk.

Companies scrambled to find asset management tools and solutions so they could assess and track the rapidly expanding number of devices used by employees outside the four walls of the corporate workspace. But this isn’t enough to secure businesses in the 21st Century.

The only viable solution is a new strategy based around ITAM 2.0 – the next evolution of IT asset management – laser-focused on accuracy, breadth and depth to provide complete visibility into the entire IT estate. 

In this way, organizations can create an always-accurate single source of truth to inform all IT scenarios and strategic decision-making across the entire organization. It becomes a system of record that feeds not only conversations and decisions, but all the other individual solutions and systems that rely on rich data to achieve their objectives.

With this single source of truth, data can be leveraged across all IT scenarios to drive and inform processes, support strategic decisions and ensure alignment of internal and external IT teams – future-proofing IT organizations for almost any new challenge that may arise.

IT asset management can no longer be an afterthought 

Although historically, IT asset management wasn’t a priority for executive leadership in many

organizations, the situation has changed. CIOs and other executives are realizing the tremendous impact ITAM can have on reducing cost and risk — and the significant ROI that can result from doing it right. 

In these organizations, ITAM has been elevated enough to merit a strategic discussion, and forward-thinking IT leaders are realizing that to manage today’s IT environments effectively and keep them secure, ITAM can no longer be an afterthought.

Roel Decneut, CMO, Lansweeper

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