It used to be easy (actually, it never was, but play along for a minute); Software Asset Management solutions were used by SAM teams to manage the organization’s software inventory, licenses and compliance. It was practically a 1:1 relationship between technology and audience.
But a lot has changed in recent years.
First, enlightened CIOs and their teams started to recognize the value of the data and insight being captured and curated by the SAM team, so they started to use it to help with technology migrations, cross-charging, asset lifecycle planning, vendor management and other aspects of IT operations management.
Then the ITSM team realized that this asset information was invaluable to giving their staff visibility into what was actually happening on the network, reducing call resolution times and even providing some level of self-service.
And now today, we are in the thick of the next evolution of how ‘SAM data’ is consumed, driven by the diversification of IT spending away from the CIO and IT team towards individual business units and line managers (Forbes magazine estimates that more than 40% of technology spend already lies outside the CIO’s control, other sources claim it’s even higher). It’s what we call “The Disruption Gap” and it means that more and more of the real technology spending power now lies with hundreds or even thousands of decision makers across the organization.
But, as we know from pretty much every superhero movie ever, “with great power comes great responsibility”.
The new breed of technology decision maker is increasingly waking up to (or being forcibly woken up to) the need to spend their technology dollars responsibly. They are (in most cases) not being told to spend less, but they are now coming under greater scrutiny to avoid financial waste or irresponsibility. They are having to justify their spend and ensure that every dollar invested in technology consumption has a tangible effect on the bottom line.
Most can’t do that. Yet.
Technology decision makers, no matter what their role or place in the organization, need to stop ‘flying blind’ and gain a better understanding of how their purchasing and consumption decisions are affecting both their department or team spend and the organization’s overall ability to compete while staying lean.
Suddenly, insight into technology consumption and spending is relevant to more stakeholders across the business than ever before.
Hundreds of individuals, three common profiles
We now have a potentially huge number of different ‘personas’ that need access to the insights that can be provided by a good SAM platform.
And that’s not always a good thing – in a weird parallel with the world of software licensing, it was the software publishers’ desire to create offerings for an ever-increasing number of personas that has led to us a world where individual publishers can have tens, hundreds or even thousands of ways to buy essentially the same products.
It’s not a trend we want to repeat.
But understanding the common needs of different users is both important to how we market and sell Snow’s solutions and, more importantly, how we build and deliver our products to ensure each stakeholder gets real value from our platform.
So, we took a long hard look at the increasing number of individuals that are now using data and insight from Snow’s solutions – from the obvious, like the SAM and ITAM teams, to the less obvious, like CFOs, lines of business managers, VPs of sales and HR and even the travelling sales rep – and it became clear that all users, no matter what their function or department in the organization, can be thought of as a:
* Guardian * Decision Maker * Consumer
Now, the user types are not mutually exclusive and the chances are that if you’re a senior manager, you might straddle two categories (I’m a consumer of our desktop productivity technologies, but a decision maker when it comes to project management technologies, for example). Broadly, we believe that these three categories are universal and will not only help Snow build products that meet the needs of individual stakeholders, they will enable those same stakeholders to effectively self-identify their user type and use our solutions to meet their specific needs accordingly.
Let’s take a closer look at the three key categories:
The Technology Guardian
In this context, the SAM team is our archetypal Guardian. Charged with essentially making sure that decisions taken by the business are delivered effectively and do not introduce unacceptable cost or risk into the organization. But the SAM team is no longer alone in being a Guardian that can benefit from insight and intelligence delivered by the SAM platform. Other Guardian roles would include Security, the ITSM team, the CFO’s office and Procurement managers. Guardians need the advanced functionality and reporting capabilities to manage the minutiae of licensing, contracts, security risks and costs.
The common goal for the Guardians is to make sure that decisions pending are informed and that decisions already made do not create further problems down the line.
Example Guardians: SAM, ITSM, CFO, CIO, CISO/Security, Procurement, Vendor Management, Risk Managers
The Technology Decision Maker
With at least 40% of technology spending now lying outside IT, there are hundreds or even possibly thousands of technology Decision Makers in larger organizations. All of whom are spending on technology, often not in sync with other similar stakeholders and without sufficient appreciation of where their money is going, what effect it is having, or even how much they are actually spending.
With increased executive scrutiny on technology spending, especially in areas such as the cloud and IT services, these Decision Makers now need to make sure that they have a full grasp of their consumption and can prove to the business that it is effective and not subject to waste. And that starts with visibility over the actual spending and consumption of technology by their teams. Something most newly-empowered Decision Makers lack today.
Example Decision Makers: Lines of business managers, Data Center Managers, Digital Transformation leaders, Chief Revenue Officers
The Technology Consumer
Our final user profile is the Consumer. To one extent or another, we are all consumers of technologies in our organizations. We all need access to desktop apps, project management apps, collaboration tools and more. My Consumer needs are likely different to yours; but generally we have a feel for what we want to get the job done (whatever that might be). And we don’t like red tape or to be kept waiting.
So, our Consumer is more demanding than ever, insisting on self-selecting the technologies that they need, to determine when they need them and to have (near) instant access. The Consumer is likely not concerned with cost or licensing programs, but they do have a sense of the need to be productive and when they don’t get what they want, are increasingly likely to ‘go rogue’ with technology purchasing.
Building a single platform for the Guardians, the Decision Makers and the Consumers
Three core user profiles: all with different roles and needs. But all with needs that are closely aligned and related in terms of the required data points, the ability to generate meaningful reports, affect change or automate key actions and to use self-service to get what they want.
I wrote in a previous blog about the People Platform and how Snow is combining best-in-class technology with high levels of process automation and unparalleled data to drive value to the current and future users of Snow solutions. By identifying our key stakeholders and grouping them into Guardians, Decision Makers and Consumers, we can now focus our efforts on addressing their needs and putting them at the heart of the platform.
To learn how Snow can help you gain visibility over technology consumption across your organization, why not take a 20-minute executive briefing with me or one of our experts?
If you are involved in the process of managing technology spend and consumption, you’ll find this paper useful: The Indispensable CIO.