Roel Decneut

The Software Asset Management (SAM) team at Microsoft is going through a revolution. Once seen as a compliance monitor, SAM is evolving into a strategic lever and trusted partner in digital transformation.

Our core mission is to help customers maximize value, minimize risks, and achieve more with their IT investments. We do this by shifting our license-focused engine into a new business model that provides a strategic advantage for both the partner ecosystem and our customers.

An example of this was the launch of the Intelligent Asset Manager (IAM) that I announced at Microsoft Inspire in July. Here’s an introduction to the changes we’re making and why these changes are so important for our partners and customers.

How SAM has evolved

Before I dive in, let me add a little context. During the last decade, the SAM team has built up a partner channel and the expertise to work with customers to understand their IT environments. Until a few years ago, our charter was to help customers stay compliant and ensure they were using the licenses they paid for. However, with the speed of change across the technology landscape, increasingly complex IT environments, and consequently, ever-increasing security risks, we realized we could do more.

So for the past two years, we’ve explored new ways to help customers transform by making better, more enduring decisions, reducing cybersecurity risks, and ultimately achieving more with their investments. As part of this transformation, we also changed how we measure success, which has been critical for us. (Learn more in this presentation by our General Manager, Patama Chantaruck.)

But managing change at this scale isn’t easy. Our partners and customers face real obstacles that make all aspects of SAM increasingly complex. At the same time, the potential value of proper IT asset management has never been greater. To transform the way our partners engage with customers, we knew we had to address these complexities.

The value of Intelligent Asset Manager (IAM)

IAM helps partners to deliver greater value to customers by addressing key hurdles, including a deep, costly, historic focus on licensing, and an abundance of tools but a lack of solutions. We needed to make changes that enable our partners to transition from licensing experts to trusted advisors on a broader scale.

To this end, IAM focuses on making changes in two key areas.

1. Reducing licensing complexity

For many of our partners, the ability to create an Effective Licensing Position (ELP) is both critical and a large part of their identity. This is because software publishers have long outsourced the management of complex challenges to these partners. But to help partners broaden their roles as trusted advisors, it was necessary for us to reduce licensing complexity and own the ELP creation process.

IAM delivers a centralized ELP creation service that increases consistency and reduces complexity over time. This frees up partner resources to focus on turning quality inventory into meaningful insights that ultimately drive digital transformation for customers.

2. Enabling solutions instead of tools

When I took on this role, I was struck by the incredible number of SAM tools in use—either commercially available or unique partner intellectual property. Each represented a vast amount of work and dedication. However, there’s simply no single tool available that effectively tackles all SAM challenges across vendors, IT infrastructures, and geographies.

That’s why we created a universal inventory standard for all partners and inventory tools. This standard enables more effective communication and handover of data. By giving partners the ability to deliver visualized and analyzed data and make concrete recommendations, customers gain a more comprehensive understanding of their IT environments—and a much better foundation for informed decision making.

Overall, I’m excited about the evolution of SAM and the value IAM adds to customer engagements. There’s so much more to explore on this topic, so stay tuned for upcoming updates on IAM.

Share your thoughts on the future of SAM with the Microsoft Partner Community here.

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