When discussing the ever-changing landscape that is asset management, we have to start from the beginning.
Asset management has always been important to IT departments, and it understandably garnered more attention as workforces became increasingly mobile. They needed to know how much of the budget was being consumed by IT equipment, who that equipment belonged to, where it was located, when it was due to be replaced, and so on.
However, what we’ve seen in the last 24 months is that asset management has reached the point where it’s gaining the attention of executive-level management due to the serious challenges it is posing to businesses.
Breaking things down
So how did this happen, and what do we do next? First of all, the issue is like an onion – you need to peel away the layers to fully understand the root of the problem.
The biggest culprit is COVID-19, which gave way to a global supply chain disruption but, as you’ve likely heard in the news, there is also a chip shortage that’s exacerbating things. In short, this boils down to a classic case of supply and demand, and the supply simply isn’t there at the moment.
The chip shortage is interesting because it’s due to a few things. First, the global supply chain disruptions have resulted in significantly slowed production of these chips.
Additionally, demand for the devices these chips go into has dramatically increased over the last few years which is compounding an already precarious situation. To make things worse, the world relies on a shockingly small number of chipmakers.
One example of what this means for businesses is that bulk laptop orders that once took 3-4 weeks to fulfill are now taking months. As you can imagine, high-growth tech startups don’t always have the time or funding to wait months to get new equipment for their rapidly growing workforce, so these types of delays can have severe implications.
This is resulting in some difficult and potentially risky decisions like allowing employees to access corporate resources from their personal computers or continuing to keep equipment in circulation well beyond its serviceable warranty date.
What can be done
Although some of the issues we’ve discussed are unavoidable, it’s critical that organizations excel at the things they do have control over to help limit any serious adverse impacts to the business.
That being said, having a well-structured and disciplined asset management function should be at the top of your priority list. If an asset management program is operating properly and structured to scale along with the business as it grows, you’ll find that these types of concerns are much more predictable, and in turn, manageable.
As noted in our “Developing a Master Asset Inventory for SaaS Organizations” blog, implementing the asset management controls found in Annex A.8 of the ISO 27001 framework is a great place to start.
Some other related and helpful practices, which risk3sixty often conducts with clients, are Business Impact Assessments (BIA), Business Continuity Planning (BCP), and Risk Assessments. The output of each of these exercises can help provide organizational leadership the necessary context to make educated decisions and limit the impact of the topics we’ve been addressing.