The volume of IT assets owned by businesses is higher than ever before. When you also factor in the complexity of managing mobile devices, cloud-based solutions, software licenses and more, and the fact that IT assets are increasingly spread across different locations in this new age of remote and hybrid work, it’s no wonder businesses all over the world have witnessed asignificant rise in security risks.
However, there is a way to meet this challenge head-on. IT asset tracking can help you better manage your technology assets and ensure better efficiency and security.
Manually documenting all your IT assets in today’s highly digitized world is a cumbersome, time-consuming and error-prone task. You can overcome these limitations with an IT asset tracking solution that actively monitors and automates all aspects of asset management.
Let’s explore the different aspects of IT asset tracking and how it boosts security, enhances efficiency and eliminates waste in your organization.
What is IT asset tracking?
IT asset tracking refers to the process of tracking, monitoring and recording all technology assets in an organization’s IT environment. It is carried out by IT administrators and managers to gain better visibility into an organization’s entire IT infrastructure.
With asset tracking, you can record all changes implemented in a device and use it for future reference. Some of the changes you can monitor with asset tracking include:
- Software license change
- Physical relocation of the device
- Change in IP address
- Installation or uninstallation of software
- Devices in a network
Asset tracking vs. inventory management
Organizations typically have an IT inventory database with information about all their IT assets. Although inventory management works hand in hand with asset management, it differs from IT asset tracking in several aspects.
Inventory management focuses mainly on optimizing the use of IT assets. For instance, every organization has a finite number of software licenses. Inventory management is all about tracking the number of licenses available and moving them accordingly based on user requirements.
Asset tracking is a lot more comprehensive than that. Everything from asset ownership to its current status is monitored regularly with the help of asset tracking. Asset tracking also focuses on various aspects of IT assets including IT security, compliance, legal requirements, finance and more.
Asset tracking vs. asset management
IT asset management (ITAM) is a much broader concept compared to IT asset tracking. It deals with the entire lifecycle of IT assets rather than just their inventory statuses or hardware/software changes. The asset management process starts with the procurement of an IT asset and lasts until its final retirement. It includes onboarding, patching, maintenance, reporting, auditing, compliance, etc.
Asset tracking, on the other hand, is a part of ITAM since it deals with certain elements of asset management such as the capture and storage of IT asset information, location tracking, ownership status and more. Physical devices in an organization are tracked with the help of GPS tags, RFID, barcodes, etc. Other assets like software tools can be tracked with the help of software agents.
What are the different types of IT assets?
The term “asset” applies to both physical and virtual assets in an organization. All modern-day organizations are likely to have a combination of both to help them with their business operations. With today’s IT infrastructures becoming more complex, there is also a need to regularly track these assets to ensure their effective performance.
Physical assets may include everything from your computers and servers to all small accessories that go along with them. Virtual assets include software tools, cloud solutions, SaaS applications, etc. Before we understand how asset tracking works, let’s get an idea of the different asset types that need to be tracked.
There are different ways to track hardware assets in an IT environment. However, MAC addresses or barcodes are the most commonly used ways of tracking hardware assets. Modern-day asset tracking solutions are often integrated with procurement systems that already have an asset’s information such as purchase data, warranty, software details, etc. A simple scanning of the asset’s barcode can load the tracking tool with all the necessary details.
Tracking software assets is a little different from hardware assets. Some traditional asset tracking systems have manual entries for the software installed in the hardware assets. However, modern-day solutions use agents to identify and track software tools installed in a device. This helps administrators track details such as software licenses details, compliance status, expiry dates, etc. Periodic scans by these agents play a critical role in IT admins getting vital information from their software assets.
Until a few years ago, it was enough for asset tracking systems to track only physical hardware and software tools. However, a large part of today’s modern IT infrastructure runs on cloud systems. Hence, all organizations need to have asset tracking tools that can be deployed into cloud solutions and gather relevant data. The standard build of all clouds has agents. You can use these agents to track the assets on cloud networks. Alternatively, administrators can also use authentication systems like Single Sign-On (SSO) to track and gather asset information.
In today’s digital environment, most organizations cannot function effectively without SaaS products. SaaS tools have reduced the complexity of various tasks, and it is no wonder that the SaaS market is growing at 18% per year. Without actively tracking your SaaS assets, you cannot quantify the value you derive from these products. Similar to cloud assets, you can gather information on your SaaS assets from authentication systems like SSO. Asset tracking systems used today can gather details like location, usage, owners, etc., and monitor these assets.
How does asset tracking work?
IT asset tracking is more than just taking inventory of your hardware and software assets. It provides complete visibility into all the IT assets in your infrastructure. You can instantly access various kinds of information like who has an asset, where it is now, the software tools installed in it, whether it requires maintenance and more. With this information, you can take various business decisions and manage business challenges.
Before you start the IT asset tracking process, you must address the following factors:
- What needs to be tracked: With the asset tracking functionality, organizations can get many vital details about the available equipment and tools. To get the maximum benefit from an asset tracking solution, you need to provide clear inputs on what needs to be tracked.
- Who is responsible: There must be a stakeholder to ensure the right implementation of asset tracking. Individual asset owners must be responsible for incorporating the rules for securing these assets.
- Gathering reports: Reporting is another integral part of asset tracking. It is important to make sure that your asset tracking tool has the reporting functionality. It is better to have an option to generate customizable reports as well.
- Tracking method: There are different ways to track an IT asset. For instance, you can generate barcodes for each hardware asset and assign a unique identification number. This helps you get instant access to all asset data simply by scanning the bar code.
Physical asset tracking
There are different ways of tracking physical assets. Here are some common ways:
- Barcode: This refers to a unique identification number assigned to each asset. This number is usually machine-readable, and you can identify it with the help of a barcode scanner.
- RFID (Radio Frequency Identification): This uses electromagnetic or electrostatic coupling to send asset information wirelessly.
- GPS (Global Positioning System): GPS is not limited to automobiles and fleet movement. You can also use this technology to locate your IT assets effectively.
- QR (Quick Response) Code: This is a matrix type barcode we use today in most payment apps. You can use the same technology in asset management as well.
- NFC (Near Field Communication): It works similar to RFID, but its range is limited to only a few inches. You can simply use your smartphone to receive asset information.
- BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy): This technology uses Bluetooth tracker signals for accurate asset tracking. You can pick up the signals with smartphones or Bluetooth gateways.
- IoT (Internet of Things): This technology uses IoT sensors to actively track various information about IT assets including their location, usage, condition, environment, etc.
Virtual asset tracking
Software assets don’t require tags to communicate information to an asset tracking tool. Typically, these assets are tracked based on the number of copies installed in an organization’s IT environment. Information about these software tools can be gathered from their authentication systems or the software agents.
What is asset tracking software?
Considering the complex nature of today’s IT environments, manually tracking and documenting all asset information can be quite resource-intensive. Moreover, it consumes a lot of time and can be prone to human error. The best way to overcome these issues is with the help of an asset tracking software tool.
You can use IT asset tracking software to track and monitor the IT assets in an organization. An effective tool can automate the entire asset tracking process and provide you with up-to-date information about your hardware and software inventory.
What are the benefits of asset tracking software?
Asset tracking software can play a huge role in the security of your IT assets. In addition, you can also witness the following benefits with an IT asset tracking software solution.
- Theft prevention: Tagging the hardware assets prevents the possibility of theft. Even if you misplace an asset for some reason, you can easily track it through the software tool.
- Lower maintenance costs: With the proper monitoring of IT assets, you can keep track of their efficiency and quality. This lowers the money spent on the maintenance of your assets.
- Extending the life of assets: In addition to overcoming maintenance issues, you can also extend the life of your IT assets. Since you can regularly monitor your asset performance on the software, you can instantly get to it when there is an issue. This increases its lifespan.
- Higher productivity: Asset tracking frees up your workers from the responsibility of asset management. Since the asset information is automatically tracked, there is no need for workers to concern themselves with the tracking tasks. This helps boost the productivity of your workers.
- Centralized administration: You can track and monitor all asset information from a single point of truth. This prevents IT administrators from maintaining separate logs for different asset types.
- Streamlined auditing: The auditing process in asset management is quite exhaustive. The information from your asset tracking software simplifies the process and ensures streamlined auditing without any issues.
Who needs asset tracking?
IT asset tracking is beneficial for all organizations that work with IT assets every day. From airlines to hospitals, all organizations need to keep track of their equipment. Without an asset tracking software tool, keeping track of all IT asset information can be extremely hard and increasingly overwhelming in the long run.
From equipment downtime to lost productivity, there is a lot to lose from not having an asset tracking solution. Besides, organizations also risk non-compliance when they use manual solutions for complex tasks such as asset tracking.
IT asset tracking with IT Glue
IT Glue is an all-in-one asset, knowledge and password management solution. Our solution centralizes and tracks all IT assets including software, SOPs, password information and more. IT Glue integrates with endpoint management, service desk management, network monitoring tools and backup solutions to automatically bring all asset information into a centralized single pane of glass.
This provides better visibility into all the assets you have across different clients and different locations. You can also get all the related information, including related software, SOPs, passwords, etc., in a single pane.
To learn more about how IT Glue can help with IT asset tracking, request a demo.
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