For an Optimized ITAM Strategy, Independence Matters

 

July saw the launch of the 2021 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Software Asset Management Managed Services, in which – I am very proud to say – Livingstone Group was named as a Leader.

Following the publication of the 2021 Gartner Magic Quadrant, the ITAM Review provided an interesting take on the companies listed in the report, pointing out that Livingstone was just one of two independent managed service providers making an appearance. ITAM Review singled out this independence as a strategic differentiator in what it describes as a competitive market. We couldn’t agree more.

We are staunchly proud of our independence and our steadfast focus on helping our clients to control and optimize their investments in software and cloud.  What’s more, we believe that having an independent approach to ITAM is the only way to ensure clients can achieve maximum value.

Here’s why:

Without the independent delivery of ITAM, there could be a conflict of interest   

Many ITAM providers also resell software, hardware and cloud licenses. This means they will be heavily influenced – not to mention, financially incentivized – by vendors to sell as many licenses as possible, particularly for priority services, such as those that are based in the cloud or offered as-a-Service.

This could mean that the same company that you have employed to right-size your estate, eliminate overspend and ensure you are only investing in the solutions that you really need, could also be incentivized to sell you as much as possible, and push services that might not be the best fit for your organization.

These companies will of course have different teams working on ITAM and on licensing sales, and they are likely to have ‘Chinese Walls’ in place that ensure these teams work in siloes rather than in cahoots. However, they both ultimately work for the same company, with the same senior management team, balance sheet, shareholders and overall business objectives. Bear in mind also that some pureplay ITAM providers are indeed owned by licensing providers. Here, a conflict of interest might not be immediately obvious, but it could still exist.

Some reseller, outsourcer and system integrators recognize this and actively engage Livingstone with their customers to provide this independence.

Our advice is to ask tough questions of your ITAM managed service provider so you are absolutely confident that they have your best interests at heart.

 

You should have the freedom to choose your own SAM tool

Many ITAM providers have formal reseller agreements with SAM tool vendors, which often means that, when you engage with the former, you end up deploying (and, therefore, paying for) the latter, even though it might not be the best tool for your IT environment.

As my colleague David Gemuenden recently discussed, SAM tools – when correctly integrated, configured and managed – are a key pillar of any ITAM strategy, but picking the right tool is an important decision, as they all have their strengths and weaknesses, and require considerable expertise to manage. It is important to ascertain which tool offers you the greatest value; don’t just go with the tool your ITAM provider says is best (and just happens to provide them with an extra revenue stream).

Our belief is ITAM providers should be tool agnostic, providing balanced advice on which tools to consider as well as providing a comprehensive service wrap for whichever tool you select.

 

When it comes to audits, you need someone in your corner and your corner alone

Every organization should consider engaging an ITAM specialist to help defend against vendor audits, proactively minimizing the gap between usage and entitlement, and thereby lessening their exposure to risk. These specialists should be able to steer you through the entire process, providing valuable and actionable advice on how to interact with the auditor in order to achieve the best possible outcome.

However, some ITAM managed services providers also act as third-party auditors for the large software vendors, which means it is also their job to identify where your usage has exceeded your entitlement, initiating fines and charges for historical usage that falls outside the terms of your contract.

In other words, they are acting as both poacher and gamekeeper.

To murky the waters still further, if they have been managing your estate on a daily basis, they will have reams of intelligence about what licenses you use now and what you are likely to require in the future. All of this information can be used as leverage during the audit process, and you can be sure that not all of it will be to your advantage.

 

Independent consultancy provides an extra layer of validation

We have seen an uplift in interest from organizations with established relationships with other ITAM service providers, which want extra validation that the advice they are being given, usually in connection to a contract negotiation or renewal, is optimal. This could be because it is policy for the organization to always double-check it is getting the best deal, or it could be because it isn’t confident about the quality of the advice.

Only independent consultants – which operate outside the influence of vendors – can provide this level of validation.

 

Our commitment

Livingstone Group’s 150 strong team is 100% focused on ITAM. This, together with our commitment to remain tools agnostic, to never resell licenses and to never conduct vendor audits, means every piece of advice our consultants give is always in our clients’ best interests. 

When you are truly independent, there are no hidden agendas.

 

About the Author

Chris Lewis, Head of Marketing

I am currently the Head of Marketing at Livingstone Group. Over 25 years’ experience in technology marketing roles spanning global markets. I have built and led several high performing multi award winning Marketing teams, successfully defining and delivering corporate communications, branding and marketing strategy. Previous employers have included Dimension Data, Infor, SCC & Marconi Communications.

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