There's been a lot of conversation in the IT asset management industry over the last few months about how it is evolving, the scope is increasing and what we, as IT asset managers, really do. It's certainly true that an ITAM practice will have more types of assets to look after now, with the uptake of cloud services and the changes in business IT platforms. But does any of this justify a name change?
There's a line in act 2 of Romeo and Juliet, spoken by the latter:
What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet;
The common interpretation of this line is that what something happens to be is far more important than what you choose to call it. Alongside discussion on the nature of the industry, now that it is nearly two decades old, there has also been much debate on whether IT Asset Management is still a suitable moniker. If you listen to the ITAM Review's monthly radio show, you'll have heard a spirited (and quite humorous) discusson on this very subject in the January edition.
Some of the names mooted have included SAM 2.0, Technology Guardians and Digital Diversity Management. There have even been comments suggesting that the industry should be renamed from ITAM but there's no suggested alternative. I'm not going to go into the reasons for the names suggested above because you're doubtless intelligent enough to research it yourself, if you really want to. But what I will say is this - whilst there are changes afoot in the ITAM industry, and it certainly isn't the same as the one I entered a decade ago, it still passes the duck test.
What we should be considering is whether we need to redefine what we classify as IT assets to encompass them in the scope of IT asset management, rather than rename the industry to adapt it to a perceived shift in business priorities. One of the arguments I've seen in favour of a name change is that the C-level executives with the money to fund your practice and the decision making ability to kill it, may not fully understand what IT asset management represents and whether it is relevant to them in an evolving cloud-centric world. I accept that view point but where I differ is how I believe it should be addressed.
Rather than change the name of what we do into something that the C-level would find a bit more palatable, why not just make sure we communicate to them, in language they understand, what we are all about? After all, the name IT asset management describes fairly accurately what we do. Even in a consumption-based IT world, licences you may deploy on to cloud infrastructure platforms are still business assets, requiring careful management. A subscription licence to a SaaS platform still has terms and conditions and grants rights to use the platform, much like an on-premise software licence.
Yes, IT is changing - so much so that many organisations have replaced the information with digital. Personally, I think it's a buzzword. The important point is, though, that we shouldn't change the ITAM name to something that doesn't really describe what we do, at a time when many people in management are still becoming comfortable wtih the concept. We should be getting in front of those decision makers and showing what value we can add to the business and how our practice can adapt in an ever changing world. Evolution not revolution.