Chief information officers (CIOs) are on the frontlines of both cybersecurity and business transformation. Where once IT was focused on traditional operations, it’s now poised to offer additional value by partnering with business leaders to drive secure, strategic change.
According to CIO.com’s 2020 State of the CIO survey, 91% of IT leaders see the CIO’s role becoming more digital and innovation focused. Additionally, 89% of CIOs say they are more involved in leading digital transformation initiatives compared to their business counterparts. The same is true in the public sector, with innovation and transformation through technology landing firmly in the top ten CIO priorities as compiled by NASCIO.
As a result, CIO priorities are changing, and software asset management (SAM) is an important tool to address these priorities and lay the foundation for strategic business growth. We’ve seen this firsthand at BSA Verafirm. A recent survey of IT leaders who completed BSA’s SAM Certification found that the skills that they developed through the course overlap with CIO top priorities. Here’s a look at how SAM is helping to address seven top CIO priorities in 2020.
1. Finding cost savings and efficiencies
In an increasingly complex business environment, CIOs are being tasked to do more with less resources. Software offers the opportunity for significant cost savings to be made. Building a detailed and actionable SAM plan helps businesses to understand exactly what hardware and software they require to achieve their strategic goals. Making sure that employees have the right software and avoiding over-deployment is a surefire way to have a significant positive impact on the bottom line.
2. Transitioning to the cloud
The cloud is without a doubt one of the most transformative technologies of this generation, and CIOs are planning for the heavy adoption of the cloud and SaaS products. Organizations that are able to smartly manage their licenses and software services will be able to make the most of the efficiency and business opportunities the cloud has to offer. Getting to grips with license management is vital in these circumstances. Over 63% of participants in BSA’s SAM course attendees said they were better equipped to handle license management. In addition, 36 percent of CIOs are very concerned about lock-in with a single provider. Multi-cloud strategies offer an alternative to vendor lock-in, reducing both costs and risks. But having SaaS products spread across multiple clouds adds another layer of complexity when it comes to security. SAM equips your team for this and other cloud-based challenges ahead.
3. Innovation and digital transformation
CIOs have been tasked with speeding up the pace of digital transformation through innovation and the adoption of new technologies. According to the Flexera 2020 CIO Priorities Report: “Constant change is the norm, with 41% of respondents updating their strategic IT roadmaps at least monthly.” The pace of change is placing a huge burden on IT professionals as they must drive the innovation process while still maintaining the challenges of supporting day to day business activities. COVID has further accelerated this with timeframes reduced from years to a matter of days or weeks. SAM provides the foundation needed to minimize the cost of transition and maximize long-term IT impact. SAM experts identify transition risks, ensure smooth migration, and adapt SAM plans to ensure companies maximize benefits from their new investments. As part of our SAM course, participants develop skills including change management and how to plan for SAM.
4. Skills gap
Gartner reported that 2020 was the year that “75 percent of organizations would experience visible business disruptions due to [infrastructure and operations] skills gaps.” Plugging this skills gap requires a forward-thinking and diverse hiring policy, but also a plan to upskill current employees. Equipping IT departments with the right skills requires multi-faceted training that better supports employees in their roles while still maximizing value for organizations. In a recent survey of BSA’s SAM course attendees, skills acquired ranged from software license management and internal auditing through to financial management and leadership.
5. Outsourcing risks
There are many reasons why companies outsource, and plugging the skills gap is a major one. But outsourcing brings third-party risks to businesses as organizations open themselves up to insider threats. SAM enables compliance, mitigating third-party risks with a robust approach to security and license management. Relationship and contract management are also essential tools for IT teams, and over 40 percent of BSA course participants found themselves better equipped in this area.
6. Expanding attack surfaces
As workflows are digitized, an organization’s attack surface grows. Businesses are faced with a wider exposure to cybersecurity risks, from bring your own device (BYOD) to Internet of Things (IoT) and the addition of software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms. All of these are good things for business, boosting productivity, ensuring happier employees, and more. SAM helps CIOs reduce their cybersecurity risks by enabling a structured approach to managing software assets throughout their lifecycle. More than 40% of participants in BSA’s course said they developed their security management skills. SAM gives businesses the skills to manage new threats and vulnerabilities as they arise.
7. Data protection
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect in the EU in May 2018 and caused quite a stir across the business world. Its strict requirements upped the ante on digital privacy and made managing compliance much more difficult and critical. GDPR may have been first, but similar legislation is in progress around the globe. Combined with the growth in AI-powered data-hungry tools and the increasing number of data breaches, it’s clear why global CIOs are increasingly concerned with protecting their organization’s data. IoT devices currently pose a particular challenge when it comes to data, with vulnerabilities around software updates. SAM best practices reduce these risks by supporting the development of written policies for compliance, privacy, security, and approved apps.