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SAM Survey Shows What’s in Store for 2018

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Every year the International Business Software Managers Association survey our member organizations on the state of their software asset management programs. (More than 2,000 organizations have participated in our SAM survey study over the past 11 years!)

We ask SAM and ITAM pros key questions about which software they’re measuring, who they’ve been audited by, what tools they’re using, whether their SAM program was successful in the last year, and much more.

Every year we see some trends confirmed, some shifts in practices, and always a few surprises. This year is no different.

Here, I’m going to talk about two key aspects of the survey and what our data shows will be challenges for SAM pros in 2018. (More in future articles.)

This is a sneak peek at my 2018 SAM trends presentation at our Compliance Manager Summit, March 12-13, in San Francisco. Join me for more at the Summit, along with nearly 40 other sessions on SAM and software licensing tips and strategies. Full agenda and registration here.

First up, value.

How organizations value software asset management as a process and practice has grown significantly in the past few years. How upper management values the role that SAM managers play in avoiding costs and risk is on the rise. It may not always feel this way, and it’s a constant battle, but our survey shows that what you do at your company to track, manage, update, secure, and keep compliant software is gaining value.

The “why” behind the value of software asset management programs becomes more apparent when you look at other data points in the survey.

For example, consider the dollar amount value of software that’s managed by an organization, it’s huge. Large organizations (30,000-plus IT users) report that their SAM programs oversee as much as $200 million-worth of software. The average company in our survey group manages $46.5 million in software and even small companies (500-1,500 IT users) report managing up to 5 million dollars in software from a wide range of publishers. With software troves in these numbers—the largest we’ve seen in our survey history—it’s no wonder that SAM is garnering a bit more respect in organizations.

Another interesting trend in our survey also contributing to the value proposition of SAM is the broadening scope of where software is running in any given organization. Software on mainframes and desktops are expected at this point, but we’ve seen a dramatic jump in the amount of enterprise software in private clouds, public clouds, other virtual computing environments, and on smartphones, tablets, and other devices.

Managing software on this growing number of platforms is one of the challenges SAM pros are facing today and, we predict, will only get more complex in the future because software publishers still do not have clear enough licensing strategies for SaaS, cloud, and on-prem. Our survey respondents point to the array of licencing models as a key hurdle to their program success.

But speaking of success, one of the main positive points from this year’s survey is that more companies than ever before report that their software asset management programs are successful.

Large companies in our survey especially reported more success with their SAM programs in 2017—10 percent more success this year over last! Why are larger companies more successful? The answer to that is pretty clear; their programs are more mature, and they have more money and staff. Larger organizations report a growing SAM budget and more staff dedicated to SAM activities in 2017 than in past years.

What has been consistent over the years is that larger organizations seem to get the biggest bang out of their software asset management programs, meaning that because they spend a lot on software and invest in their SAM programs, their efforts to reduce risk and increase compliance are more effective and result in more savings in absolute dollars than in small or medium size organizations. That’s not to say that smaller organizations aren’t successful too. The data reveals a clear relationship between SAM program staff, savings (more staff and more savings), and program age (programs running three years or longer report higher success rates). For several years running we see that more staff and longer running programs (longer than three years) generate more software savings and reduce risk.

In our 2017 survey, younger SAM programs, those that are two years old or less, report a lower rate of success, but this is to be expected since it takes time for programs to get in place and things to start working and generating results.

In my next article, I’ll talk about what our survey had to say about the factors are driving software asset management program growth and how SAM managers are convincing upper management to invest more in SAM.