3 Big 2019 Trends and 4 Strategic Tips for Managing the Transforming Cost of Technology

Amalgam Insights estimates that the total technology spend formally and centrally managed by enterprises with over $1 billion in revenue from telecom, network, mobility, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), and Infrastructure-as-a-Service will double from June of 2019 by the end of 2021 driven by the massive growth of cloud computing and the need to manage a variety of “shadow IT” costs that grow to the size that formal management is required.. By “formally and centrally managed,” Amalgam Insights assumes full visibility of inventory, contracts, billing, and service orders across all vendors with active usage and supplier optimization efforts.

In 2019, Amalgam Insights notes several key trends in the world of technology expense management that IT organizations should be aware of.

First, every IT expense management solution is increasingly focused on cloud-based expenses, either in terms of Software as a Service or Infrastructure as a Service. Established Software Asset Management (SAM) companies are working on their SaaS expense capabilities including Aspera, Flexera, ServiceNow, and Snow Software and a variety of standalone vendors including Alpin, Binadox, Cleanshelf, Intello, Torii, and Zylo are emerging. Amalgam Insights is planning a SmartList for November 2019 to focus on key vendors to manage SaaS across the SaaS expense, SAM, and Technology Expense markets.

On the IaaS side, every major global Technology Expense Management solution has launched IaaS management capabilities, also known as FinOps or Cloud FinOps, including Asignet, Calero, Cass Information Systems, Cimpl, Dimension Data, MDSL, Sakon, and Tangoe. In addition, this market has been an area of rapid acquisition over the past couple of years including Microsoft’s acquisition of Cloudyn, Apptio’s acquisition of Cloudability (which calls this practice “FinOps”), and VMware’s acquisition of CloudHealth Technologies. And there are still standalone players such as Cloudcheckr in this space as well. This crowded market seeking to manage the next $100 billion of public cloud spend represents an interesting set of choices for IT departments in choosing how to aggregate and manage IT spend.

(As an aside, Amalgam Insights finds the use of the term “FinOps” by Apptio and Cloudability to be an interesting way to coordinate multiple departments and provide guidance on how to manage cloud expenses. At the same time, FinOps seems to be recreating the wheel to some extent in rebuilding a set of practices and cross-departmental teams that already have been managing telecom expenses for a number of years. Amalgam Insights is quite interested in seeing how this duplication of effort within IT departments will sort itself either by the establishment of separate Cloud FinOps departments, integration of Cloud FinOps and “Telecom FinOps” a.k.a. Telecom Expense Management, or the integration of both cloud and telecom into a larger IT expense or finance role. This is an interesting transitional period for IT expense as more spend moves to subscription, usage, feature, user, department, and project-based spend and chargeback models. )

A third key trend is the move to Europe. European IT is being targeted as an area that has traditionally been informally managed or managed in geographic silos that prevent strong global management and alignment with strategic enterprise efforts. To solve this problem, there has been a variety of acquisitions and office launches across Europe as the likes of Calero, MDSL, Tangoe, Flexera, Snow Software, Cloudcheckr, ServiceNow, VMware, and others. Amalgam Insights notes that European IT management challenges have been poorly supported in the past by global vendors that have not adequately accounted for the differences in managing data, connectivity, and compliance in each European country and the relative lack of geographic footprint to support services. In light of this, Amalgam Insights has been tracking European IT management successes and provides guidance on this topic for end user, investor, and vendor advisory clients.

To prepare for this evolution in technology expense management, Amalgam Insights provides the following guidance for Chief Information Officers, Chief Procurement Officers, Chief Accounting Officers, and related IT procurement, finance, and expense managers to prepare for the second half of 2019 and beyond based on prior guidance and research.

$100K and 30% are key benchmarks for specialized IT spend categories. Once an IT spend management category exceeds $100,000 per month, organizations start having the potential to save at least one employee’s worth of payroll through optimization by pursuing the 30% savings that typically exist in a previously unmanaged environment that has not been formally managed or audited over the last five years. At this point, your company should start looking for a dedicated solution for expense management, whether it be manual support from an in-house employee with telecom experience, a software platform to support management, or managed services to support contract, invoice, inventory, and usage management. These rules of thumb are especially true in SaaS and IaaS management, which are currently rife with poor governance, duplicate spending, and unmonitored usage patterns associated with decentralized cloud computing purchases.

Enterprise buyers at Global 2000 companies should review their current strategy for IT spend categories with the goal of supporting all cloud, software, hardware, network, and mobility spend from a usage and subscription-based perspective. IT is moving to a subscription and usage-based paradigm that started by enterprise telecom and then evolved through the enterprise adoption of cloud computing. Firms currently considering new or replacement IT expense vendors, due diligence in understanding prospective vendors’ roadmap and experience for new technology categories is vital for futureproofing this investment. This is especially true in an “As-a-Service” world where all aspects of IT are increasingly being sourced and billed in a telecom-like function which shifts these vendor relationships from traditional asset-based approaches to subscription and relationship-based approaches. Look for depth in the following functional areas: inventory, invoice line-items, service orders, disputes, optimization, governance, and security.

Customer satisfaction, geographic expertise, vertical expertise, and depth of managed and professional services are key differentiators. Amalgam recommends that companies looking at TEM solutions focus not only on the technical aspects of invoice and inventory management, but on the alignment between the vendor’s expertise and the potential buyer’s geographic footprint and business model. This alignment is often more important than the extremely granular Request for Proposals that Amalgam has seen in this industry. In 2019, there have been a number of specific trends in this regard, such as the telecom expense management market’s push towards aggregating European spend among market leaders, focus on providing additional managed services such as security and managed mobility, and vertical-specific cost management focuses that also include specific asset management and IT management strategies. Customer retention and satisfaction are also key metrics. For mature solutions, it is not uncommon to see annual customer retention metrics above 95% and to see an year-over-year increase in wallet share as new cloud and app spend is brought into a solution.

Rather than ask hundreds of questions where there is little to no differentiation, such as how invoices are processed and whether a specific type of inventory can be stored within the solution, focus on how the vendor supports the usage and management of value-added technology. The goal of IT is not to restrict the use of helpful technologies, but to increase the use of productivity-driving and outcome-improving technologies and then to providing that optimal level of utilization in a cost-effective manner. Spend management vendors that can help identify technology associated with revenue growth or customer satisfaction provide a competitive edge in understanding the cost-basis of strategic IT. By taking these steps, companies can start to better understand how to manage IT spend more practically.

(Note: This piece is an excerpt from Amalgam Insights’ upcoming SmartList for Technology Expense Management Market Leaders scheduled to publish in August 2019. If you would like more information about this topic, if you are considering a net-new or replacement purchase for IT expense management, or are interested in the upcoming report, please feel free to contact us at info@Amalgaminsights.com)

Knowledge 2019 and ServiceNow’s Vision for Transforming the World of Work

In May 2019, Amalgam Insights attended Knowledge 2019, ServiceNow’s annual end-user conference. Since ServiceNow’s founding in 2004, the company has evolved from its roots as an IT asset and service management company to a company that supports digital workflow across IT, HR, service, and finance with the goal of making work better for every employee. In attending this show, Amalgam Insights was especially interested in seeing how ServiceNow was evolving its message to reflect what Amalgam Insights refers to as “Market Evolvers,” companies that have gained market dominance in their original market and taken advantage of modern mobile, cloud, and AI technology to expand into other markets. (Examples of Market Evolvers include, but are not excluded to, Salesforce, ServiceNow, Workday, Informatica, and Tangoe.) Continue reading “Knowledge 2019 and ServiceNow’s Vision for Transforming the World of Work”

IT Asset Management Must Change to Cut SaaS Costs by 30%

Money Bubbles in the Clouds
You Must Change Your LIfe ~ Ranier Maria Rilke
You Must Change Your Life

A generation of IT has been trained on the practice of Software Asset Management, which has been built on the focus of audit-based license agreement compliance. As the enterprise software market has moved to SaaS, the need for regular audits has decreased because of a fundamental shift from vendor-driven contract enforcement to client-friendly policies for adding new licenses and services.

As software shifts from being a license-based capital expenditure asset to a usage-defined operational expenditure service, the foundational nature of software management must change as well. Rather than managing software as a sunk cost with the goal of squeezing the maximum utilization out of an initial license before the software becomes obsolete, companies must now treat Software as a Service as a constantly renewing and updated functionality aligned to specific business roles.

The trade-off for the ease-of-use and support for SaaS is that enterprise software contracts are harder to negotiate because a number of buyers may end up purchasing SaaS and the purchase cycle is built to support consumerized purchases through P-cards, expense accounts, and line-of-business operational budgets rather than through a formal IT process.

As a result, the traditional world of SAM compliance and top-down procurement is being replaced with the need for cost management solutions that focus on:

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