IT software asset management

Managing enterprise software was once a relatively simple discipline. IT managers purchased or licensed necessary business applications, installed them on employees’ computers, and managed software updates and system integrations.

In the era of cloud services, software asset management (SAM) is a different beast. IT leaders who juggle thousands of software licenses and applications across an enterprise face major challenges mitigating compliance risks while avoiding audits and needless IT costs.

While software is the lifeblood of every organization today, businesses struggle to maintain visibility into what’s used, how, and by whom. According to research by Deloitte, 72% of organizations lack an effective SAM strategy.

Modern SAM tools and strategies can help optimize many of the processes required to accomplish those tasks—from procurement and deployment to maintenance, utilization, and ultimately disposal. SAM is an integral part of a strong overall IT asset management (ITAM) strategy. The annual marketplace for SAM solutions, estimated at $1.4 billion in 2018, is expected to reach $3.9 billion by 2026, according to a 2019 report by Reports and Data.

[Read the Workflow Guide: The future of software asset management]

The benefits of SAM

A strong SAM program helps ensure compliance with software contracts. It also gives organizations a holistic view of their software environment, which provides a number of significant benefits. These include:

  • Lower compliance risks: Gartner estimates that 68% of enterprises undergo a software audit at least once a year. Organizations risk hefty fines if they’re found to be in violation of a software usage agreement, but a good SAM program will mitigate these risks.
  • Streamlined license management: Do you know where your software licenses are? Many organizations don’t and it’s common to lose track of who’s using what. SAM helps organizations optimize their software licenses by uncovering unused ones, which can then be reassigned when users need them.
  • Cost savings: Organizations waste an estimated $167 billion annually on overall software costs, according to Gartner. Those that implement modern SAM tools and strategies reduce an average of 30% of their software “waste” in the first year of adoption. By optimizing usage with reallocation and smarter spending on future purchases, SAM promises major cost savings over the long haul.
  • Tighter security: As businesses move more business operations and applications to the cloud, comprehensive cybersecurity becomes increasingly important. SAM platforms and tools can manage and update a catalog of authorized software. This helps reduce security threats by ensuring that software is maintained and monitored in real time—and that unauthorized software doesn’t get installed or used.

SAM and the cloud

While the rise of software as a service (SaaS) has provided enterprises with lower-cost, more scalable software solutions, it’s also caused difficulties for IT managers administering SAM programs. These include unauthorized users, shadow IT, and SaaS sprawl, among others. Both SAM and SaaS management can help meet these challenges.

A number of SAM tools exist to automate many of the tasks required to maintain compliance with software licenses and control spending. These tools help to catalog software and provide data analyses of software assets, helping organizations save time and money.