Hardware, as it turns out, can be a lot like relationships: sometimes you don't know what you've got until it's gone. At least, that's the conclusion drawn by researcher Gartner, which released a report last week in the US revealing that many companies don't understand their hardware asset bases, leading to a loss of time, money and system performance.
What's more, according to industry experts in contact with ARN, the problem could be even worse in Australia.
According to Gartner, less than 25 per cent of companies worldwide have an IT asset management program in place that can determine potential dangers. Without thorough knowledge of their systems, companies risk gathering incorrect information on hardware and software upgrades, overspending on upgrades, or giving false information to application development groups.
Statistics recently gathered from Gartner clients indicated that 40 per cent of the clients' hardware assets were not tracked using any tools and only 10 per cent are reconciled against a database community. Most clients employ complicated manual tracking procedures or don't understand their hardware asset base at all.
Poor hardware management can increase companies' total cost of ownership by 7 to 10 per cent annually, Gartner warned.
Furthermore, companies that do not have a grasp of their hardware resources often have poor software management as well, which can prove even more costly, the researcher noted.
"My assessment is that it's probably even worse here," said Andy Wilkinson, vice president Asia-Pacific of Peregrine Systems. Peregrine's software includes an asset management and tracking suite and Wilkinson said it is up to vendors and the channel to educate corporate customers on the importance of adequate IT asset management.
The proliferation of IT equipment has grown [exponentially] in the past five or so years but the management of these assets hasn't," he said.
Given the current economic conditions, Wilkinson notes there is a shift in attitude for most corporates, from focusing on gaining market share to reining in costs. In growth times, management invests large sums in IT infrastructure, which is designed to better service and attract customers. In a depressed market, Wilkinson said management teams are placing a lot of pressure on IT managers to reduce operating costs and improve productivity.
With the total cost of ownership throughout the life of IT investments far exceeding the initial purchase price, asset management has become paramount to keeping cost overheads to a minimum.
Sadly though, according to Steve Burke, manager of Tivoli Software A/NZ, the only companies in Australia tackling the issue are large corporates.
Burke believes that besides over-spending, inadequate asset management is a potential security threat, with data and network access often unaccounted for on overlooked equipment.
In April, Tivoli launched a bundled asset management package designed for small and medium businesses. Burke claims that most SMEs are looking for the same management tools and policies as large companies, but at a substantially lower entry price.
"There is a business driver here, and it's [filtering] down to SMEs," he said. "But it's the systems integrators and value-added resellers that have to provide the [customer with] education."
The Gartner findings were released as part of the researcher's three-day IT Asset Management and TCO Summit in Orlando, Florida.