According to Reports and Data, the global software asset management (SAM) market is expected to reach $3.92 billion by 2026. And thanks, at least in part, to the growing adoption of cloud solutions in South Africa, local companies are starting to see the value for SAM as well.

By Nicole Oliveira, software services business unit lead at Altron Karabina

Even though businesses here are lagging their peers in more developed markets, they are slowly getting to the point where they see SAM as critical to success in a connected environment. Traditionally, many have approached SAM on an ad hoc basis. There has been little by way of integrating it as an ongoing managed service. However, while doing a point-in-time SAM approach might be a quick fix initially, it can quickly spiral out of control six months down the line when the business is stuck in a similar position if no controls are in place.

Instead, SAM must be viewed as something other than a compliance exercise. It is about delivering value to the organisation in terms of optimisation. Furthermore, SAM enables decision-makers to gain a clearer understanding of the solutions they have at their disposal, and how best to digitise those going forward when it comes time to do budget planning.


Old school

The SAM approach usually entailed running a vendor tool, going through a data validation process, and then cleaning software up where necessary. However, as more companies adopt internal tools a shift is taking place in the market.

The evolution of SAM is seeing the introduction of paid-for solutions and other inventory optimisation tools to make software easier to manage. Automation also makes this considerably quicker to do than previously. Other tools can look at certain areas of the organisational environment depending on the needs of the customer.

But to do a full SAM approach, companies need a holistic tool that tracks all aspects of the IT journey. SAM must therefore be considered a business enabler especially as organisations are looking to digitally transform themselves.

But before they can embrace digitalisation fully, they must first understand what they have currently installed. SAM must therefore be integrated into existing processes. This requires a conscious decision of the organisation to enforce the policy and procedures required to make SAM work.


More focus

SAM cannot be done as an afterthought. It is an ongoing exercise that requires a dedicated team to manage it and not just IT personnel. These SAM-specific teams can also account for aspects of procurement as they extend their reach throughout the organisation. Just imagine the number of user requests to manage when it comes to new software or even renewing existing licenses. It therefore makes sense to have dedicated resources to manage the process.

The arrival of multinational data centres has resulted in an increasing focus around cloud solutions. This means SAM revolves around as much as understanding resource utilisation and associated cost-savings as it does around whether the company is gaining the maximum benefit from its Office 365 licenses by way of example.

SAM in this cloud environment must encompass cost optimisation as it entails an intricate understanding of what resources are used where. The huge growth in cloud-based applications will see the local SAM market changing to be more reflective of the connected environment.

In turn, this will see the introduction of SAM-as-a-service. If a company does not have the right tools in place to manage its solutions, it becomes impossible to keep pace with evolving technology changes. This is where automated solutions become critical to optimisation so businesses can get on with the day-to-day running of the organisation.


Moving from the shadows

One of the biggest obstacles to overcome with SAM is the emergence of shadow IT in organisations. This sees employees downloading and installing software (mostly consumer-centric) when corporate solutions are not in place. Again, the importance of policies and procedures to manage this becomes essential.

This is where the organisation works with its employees to ensure they go to the SAM team and determine if there are no existing solutions available to address their specific requirements. If there are not, then enterprise-grade solutions can be reviewed and acquired accordingly. Going through this process helps ensure the solutions are more effectively maintained, especially when it comes time for renewal or other aspects around licensing.

Given the shift towards the cloud, local companies need to rely on partners that understand this more dynamic environment beyond what is available on-premise. Often, the partners that are borne in the cloud will be better able to assist companies in the digital future. And this is where the likes of being licensed solutions partners and licensed cloud partners become critical to the success of SAM at a business, irrespective of its size or industry sector.