Discover, Determine, Decide & Do

Matt Fisher discusses a new framework of how the different stakeholders are involved in the processes of managing technology spend and consumption.

Whether it’s the ISO 19770-1 standard or Gartner’s DINROS (officially known as the Nine Activities of a SAM Tool), Software Asset Management professionals aren’t short on models to help them best manage the organization’s software inventory and licensing.

But as I’ve discussed in recent blogs, the range of stakeholders that will benefit from having access to SAM data is growing rapidly.   And for these stakeholders, SAM standards are neither attractive nor relevant.   They come from across the organization, with different backgrounds and skills, as well as different goals and measures of success.

Lots of differences.  Yet also a lot of similarities in terms of the data points the stakeholders need access to and the sorts of actions they might want to take based on the insight gained from platforms like Snow.

To provide a simple universal framework for all types of stakeholder accessing data and insight from the Snow platform, we have created the 4Ds model; a simplified model that can be applied to anyone across the organization with a role in selecting or managing technology.

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As a cyclical model, there’s no actual start and finish point, but as you need to begin the description somewhere, we’ll start at the 12 o’clock position:


Discovery, or Inventory, has been at the heart of ITSM, SAM and ITAM since those practices first came into being.  But as our use of technology has evolved, so we are having to inventory for new technologies (often not physical or actually on the network, like SaaS, IaaS and mobile devices) in new ways.

As the technology spending shift to business units continues, so organizations will see more of their new technology spend going to cloud and mobile assets and services.

As such, traditional desktop agents monitoring solely local installs and activities are no longer fit for purpose.  Organizations must have full visibility of all forms of technology usage.

This is especially important as many cloud and mobile technologies will have been onboarded with little or no involvement from IT, which means that stakeholders like SAM and security teams can’t fulfil their role as long they are in the dark as to what technology is being consumed by the wider organization.

The same visibility is critical for other stakeholders such as lines of business managers, but more so they can ensure that their team, department or part of the organization is optimizing its use of the technology being paid for. The time for throwing money at the cloud without scrutinizing its use and effectiveness is over.


We know that data without context, especially the volumes of data that are involved with finding and tracking technology consumption, can be overwhelming.  That’s why Guardians, Decision Makers and Consumers alike need help understanding what all the data means, which data is more important than others and what the implications of certain data readings are.

For Snow, this starts with our global Software Recognition Service, but is increasingly expanding into new areas such as using raw inventory information augmented with additional internal and external data sources to highlight risks such as GDPR and application security vulnerabilities. 

For SAM professionals, the Determine phase could mean automatically recognizing entitlement rights and applying them to the appropriate installs or user accounts, or automatically grouping individual products together where they are licensed as part of a suite (sounds simple, but in reality most SAM solutions still can’t do this).  For ITSM teams, they might to determine the exact location of an IT asset or be able to reconcile a user’s AD account against their Office 365 entitlements.

For decision makers in other parts of the organization, that’s possibly too much detail.  But they might want to know which users in their teams have the oldest hardware, or are running out-of-date applications that present the greatest security risks.  They might want to know which cloud apps are costing the most but being used the least. 

For end users, the Determine phase could be as simple as fully understanding their ‘technology footprint’, which might mean understanding what the technology at their disposal is actually costing the organization.  Knowing that your Confluence subscription is costing the organization $2.00 a month might not be hugely compelling, but if you’re assigned a Qlik license costing $1,000 a month that you don’t use, you might think about surrendering it or moving to a lighter subscription type. 


Perhaps the most important of the 4Ds, yet completely impossible when the Discover and Determine phases are ineffective.  Every day, we make decisions.  And whether at work or home, more and more of these decisions have something to do with (or an impact on) our use of technology.  

For technology budget holders, the Decide phase could be that those Azure, AWS or even SAP costs are just getting too high (or that Snow has highlighted a high level of redundancy).  It might be that they want to make the same technology stack available to all the users on their team.  Or it might be that they want to migrate from one technology to another. 

Our SAM, ITSM or security teams might be more interested in fixing licensing issues, patching security flaws or consolidating the number of applications that need to be supported across the increasing number of technology platforms.  Unlike the budget holders, who probably want to make decisions based on high level management dashboards, our core IT teams are more likely to want to be able to dive into detail and really interrogate the data to ensure they make the right decisions.

And even our end users want to make decisions.  Usually about the technology they don’t have that they need, or less often the technology they no longer want to be charged for.


The purpose of any decision is to do something (the obvious exception being to decide to do nothing, in which all is good!).  The nature of that something is evolving as rapidly as our use of technology itself. And increasingly, the Do phase isn’t the sole remit of IT teams. 

The ‘Do’ action could be to provision new users with cloud app accounts (or indeed deprovision them), to change license or subscription types (to open up new functionality to more needy users or save money by moving users to cheaper licensing schemes), to automatically enrol users into groups or services, or even to kick-off the process for procuring new kit.

While different stakeholders might want to do different things, this phase increasingly requires automation, which in turn requires integration.   This is perhaps one of the most exciting areas of ongoing development at Snow, as we integrate the SAM platform with the other systems that keep the lights on and wheels turning across the enterprise.   An Enterprise App Store is an obvious example, empowering end users to self-select and request the technologies that they feel necessary (all the time doing it within a system managed by the IT guardians and approved by the budget holders).  But there are many more examples, from automatically changing SaaS subscription types to spinning-up (and retiring) IaaS resources and even providing contractors and site visitors with network access.

All tasks that would normally carry a significant manual overhead (not to mention risk of error).

So, that’s the Snow 4D model for all the stakeholders involved in selecting, securing and consuming technology across the organization.  It’s a model that not only applies to how current and future users of the Snow platform will play their role in the technology lifecycle, it’s a model for how our solutions will work and how we will ensure that we have the most fully-featured solutions for the widest set of use cases.

You’ll hear more about the 4Ds, as well as our new approach to defining distinct user profiles and how ‘SAM data’ will become a cornerstone of good IT governance in the coming months.