Why CIO priorities for 2020 are good and bad news for ITAM and SAM leaders

Home / Expert Advice / Why CIO priorities for 2020 are good and bad news for ITAM and SAM leaders


Matt Fisher, Chief Storyteller, Certero

Talent, empowerment, culture, data, automation and new technology adoption. All feature in the latest research into CIO priorities for 2020, recently published in the Wall Street Journal. And all have implications for leaders of IT Asset Management and Software Asset Management functions.


80% of CIOs reported that recruiting talent was a real challenge to their business, something that anyone who’s tried to build or hire an ITAM or SAM team in the last few years will know well (ITAM Review reported in 2019 that SAM roles now take an average of six months to fill). But this difficulty in recruiting tech talent might not only hit ITAM and SAM directly, they may find themselves increasingly back filling into secondary roles, providing data and guidance to under-staffed teams charged with delivering large transformational projects such as rolling-out new systems or replacing legacy hardware and software.

At the same time, there is a strong recognition among the same CIOs that current talent must be nurtured and empowered. Training schemes to keep skills fresh (and adapt them to the growing amount of data that must be analyzed) are one approach, but so too is equipping staff with the tools they need to act on newly-granted powers. In the ITAM and SAM world, that may mean facing the harsh reality that current technologies are not fit for purpose and that empowerment can only work if the professionals have the insight from which to take important decisions.

And empowerment goes beyond the ITAM and SAM teams. With so many organizations undertaking large-scale transformation projects, the need for accurate and timely data is essential to good decision-making, regardless of where you sit in the enterprise. I predicted in my recent blog that 2020 will see a continued rise in the number and diversity of stakeholders demanding access to what’s historically been seen as ‘ITAM data’. To me, this WSJ research seems to confirm it: more stakeholders are being empowered and those same stakeholders will need access to the right data (and the resulting insight and guidance) in order to make good decisions.

However, being empowered to make decisions but not to get the right data and insight is dangerous!

This leads us to data and analytics, a field where most CIOs agree they need to – and will do – more in 2020. From an ITAM and SAM perspective, I think two of the key questions are: what data do you want to collect and analyze, and where do you want to do the analysis?

In terms of what data; ITAM and SAM tools have a reputation for gathering a lot of data, often including a lot of noise. In a way, this is both fair and unfair. Actually, a lot of tools – especially SAM tools – don’t collect enough data, yet still contain a lot of noise! So, knowing what data you want to collect should be part of the tools selection process, not an afterthought.

In terms of analyzing ITAM and SAM data, there are of course many powerful BI platforms. But getting data into them, and learning how to use them properly, can both be major challenges. Would it instead be better to make reporting and analytics part of that same tools selection process?

Finally, a large number of CIOs are looking to new technologies, whether to speed up existing processes or introduce new capabilities. For the ITAM and SAM teams this should be a major opportunity to contribute to the organization’s strategic initiatives from the early stages right through to measuring ROI. No one in the organization knows more about the current state of the technology in use, putting these teams in a unique position to ensure the smooth progress of projects, to avoid nasty surprises (and costs) and to provide much-needed visibility to all the stakeholders involved.

I think the WSJ research supports a lot of my predictions for 2020: there is going to be more demand for ITAM and SAM expertise and data than ever before. Those teams that can meet these demands stand to be recognized for their increased contributions. However, those that try to struggle with technologies that are not fit for purpose will be fighting a losing battle that will hurt both their organization and their personal goals.

If you’re looking to get a pay rise, promotion or new job in 2020, you will be interested in our upcoming webinar on February 5th, investigating the five things you can do that will stand you in good stead for career progression in 2020. To register your place you can select from three options: 11:00am GMT (click here), or 4:00pm GMT (click here) or 11:00am EST (click here).

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