This one goes out to all the SCCM pros

For the SCCM (or Config Manager) pros out there: you know the drill. A new PC deployment project just has been announced, or perhaps it's software renewal time - so it's all eyes on SCCM for the answers - right? Well not quite.

Having spent a career in, and leading IT Ops, I can tell you that this is only the starting place. The reality is getting data for these kinds of activities takes a lot more than a few SCCM reports - think user surveys, web proxy reports and lots of crunching in Excel. The trouble is that SCCM is a system management tool, so while it has a rich and wonderful set of data - it's all about the systems. When you need detail about user behaviour or software usage it starts to fall short. And for most organisations, a tool like SCCM or one of its competitors is likely all you've got to work with.

What we're really talking about here is Software Metering, and this is where Insightcentr takes over from SCCM. In fact, the limitations in this space is what inspired the creation of Insightcentr - the need to understand who uses what software, in detail. So, as I do in most customer meetings, I thought I'd break down some common scenarios where SCCM data is often called upon, but where Insightcentr can do it so much better:

  1. Annual software renewals. Whether it's time to true-up your Microsoft EA or your Salesforce subscription renewal has just arrived, this is one place where software metering comes in very handy. SCCM can give you an idea of the apps which have been run - provided you have configured specific rules to capture them - but won't give you any detail of cloud subscriptions. Insightcentr gives you every app a user opens regardless of how it's delivered - installed, browser-based, Citrix, etc. - out of the box. Plus it measures continuously over time, so trends and business cycles are captured as well. You'll know exactly how much value your software is generating.
  2. SOE design and application packaging. The goal for any SOE design is to keep the core applications (the ones which everybody uses) at the centre, and then arrange other apps into tiers of business unit requirement, licensing restrictions or expected usage. Again, SCCM will give you a great big list of all the installed software present on your PCs, but Insightcentr can give you a list ordered by time spent, sessions opened or unique user count. Imagine being able to report on the top apps instantly so you can identify core apps and prioritise testing and packaging with ease?
  3. Role-based application groups. This is the holy grail of the SOE - oft desired, but rarely achieved. I'm talking about having 'software' groups set up for business units, locations or roles which are configured with a specific set of applications for that user base. This is where a new starter in Sales, gets all the "sales apps" automatically - without asking for them - one of the greatest challenges in onboarding. This is possible using Insightcentr's integration with Active Directory data. I don't have an answer for the SCCM approach here, but if you deliver apps this way you'd make any new starter's (and their hiring manager's) day.

Now don't get me wrong, Insightcentr doesn't replace SCCM, nor is it intended to compete with it. It's different horses for different courses. When you want to manage systems, go with SCCM. But when you need insights into how people use technology and in particular which software tools are powering your business: it's time to get Insightcentr. The benefits are simple:

  • Save money. Drive down licensing costs - pay for only what you use.
  • Focus IT support effort. Focus support efforts on what's being used rather than what you think is being used. 
  • Save analysis time. Get data to support what you need to package, and what you need to deploy to whom. 

Gartner: SaaS cost management to become priority

Just a few weeks ago, Stephen White and Victoria Barber, both Research Directors at Gartner, published a paper on the future of Software Asset Management. It's well written and a great insight (excuse the pun) into where things are headed and the increasing challenges faced by IT and business leaders in relation to software.

As software vendors and companies transition from traditional license models to Software as a Service (SaaS) the risk of higher outlays on software has grown significantly. At the same time though, we are all becoming familiar with the transformative impact that software can have on an organisation - driving out cost, improving customer service, increased sales or just generally improving productivity. Many CIOs preference buying over building software and more often than not, today's best of breed tools are delivered as SaaS by default.

“By 2020, for 40% of software titles, the fundamental priority of software asset management (SAM) will shift from managing compliance with software publisher terms and conditions to eliminating unnecessary expenditure in "as a service" contracts.” 
- Stephen White and Victoria Barber, Gartner Analysts *

The accessibility of SaaS can drive over-provisioning of user accounts, excessive account entitlement and expensive overuse of virtual environments. In the traditional Software Asset Management context, this is new territory and there's a catch - it's all web based - so compliance and inventory tools won't find it installed anywhere.

Our take is that there's a related and even bigger shift taking place where advisors in software asset management, transformation or change management can focus on helping companies understand and track sofware value - not just what's installed or deployed. To us, this means we all need to head back to the business case and consider what drives software's ability to generate benefit for a company. Quite simply, that's why Insightcentr exists. To answer the fundamental question of any software platform - who's running it, and are they really using it? 

* Software Asset Management Reaches a Tipping Point: SaaS Cost Management Eclipses License Compliance. Stephen White and Victoria Barber. January 6, 2017.

5 cool things about Insightcentr

We all know there's heaps of software on the market for just about anything and it's certainly the case when it comes to software inventory tools - the likes of Microsoft SCCM. In an enterprise context, these tools do a great job of telling you what's been installed and sometimes even what's been opened. It's been the same way for decades now and so in our view it's a kind of old-school approach. 

Not too long ago we launched Insightcentr - the new kid on the block. Here's 5 things our customers and partners have shared that are pretty cool about the product:

#1. Actual usage and not just what's installed.

This is at #1 for a reason - it's the killer blow. We give you the data associated with what's actually been used. Not what's been installed or what's been opened, but which application people are putting their full attention to. Now that's something special and missing from just about everything else out there. It's part of our special sauce and arguably one of the key reasons people want to work with us. 

#2. Desktop or web - we don't care.

With the anticipation of finding the Achilles heel with our solution, most people ask us the question - "Can you help us report on both the usage of desktop applications as well as web browser activity?". With a smile, the answer is an emphatic "YES, of course!" And to boot, we also handle individual tabs across all major browsers. Now that's sweet, and a strong #2.

#3. Mashup your own data - easily.

Most Software-as-a-Service solutions provide a heap of canned reports, dashboards and the other analytics tool. So do we. The problem is that it's not easy to mashup your own data into them, as they're often a closed sytem. With Insightcentr we connect directly into Microsoft Power BI which means that it's easy to upload and mashup your own data. Always wanted to charge back software consumption by cost center? Just add in an Excel table and you've got yourself a full charge back model ready to go - all for an investment of perhaps 90 seconds effort.

#4. YOU COULD be seeing DATA TODAY.

We've put the stopwatch on and recorded every step and we'd be surprised if, for an organisation of 1,000 seats you were unable to get Insightcentr up and running within a day. Our lightweight agent requires only HTTPs so should work fine with most firewall configurations. We accelerate your reporting as well with our pre-built Power BI content pack. Everything else can be measured in minutes. 

#5. ZERO infrastructure REQUIRED.

Just about all the solutions out there rely on installing and configuring a server environment before you can start collecting information. In fact, most systems integrators will quote you 'implementation' efforts measured in months or at least weeks with a list of requirements to boot - more cost and time! With Insightcentr, there's none of that. The only thing you need to deploy is the agent and get your data - how cool is that?  

So there you have it, 5 cool things about Insightcentr. Stay tuned as we start to deep dive into some technical details, explain more about the changing world of Software Asset Management and share the ROI we've achieved with our customers and partners already.

Take weeks out of your Windows roll out project

Take weeks out of your Windows roll out project

Windows SOE roll outs are the perfect time to take stock of all the apps being used in your business. There’s all kinds of benefits to this exercise – you can reconcile the software budget, optimise which apps form the ‘core’ of the SOE and ensure that your IT department has the best understanding of which tools people are using to perform their jobs. This step is also critical in any SOE project as it defines which apps get packaged or decommissioned, which is a large influence on project cost and time.

Australian startup launches Insightcentr to help businesses save on software costs

Australian startup launches Insightcentr to help businesses save on software costs

 Australian software provider Devicedesk today revealed a new product, Insightcentr, marking its entry into the IoT and analytics market. Insightcentr is a SaaS solution that helps businesses understand software utilisation and workforce productivity by providing time-oriented reporting into web or desktop software usage. The software has been developed in partnership with Microsoft and leverages Microsoft Power BI for analytics and reporting.