As companies invest in digitally transforming their processes, a healthy, stable, and secure IT infrastructure becomes a necessity. But while devices and software are increasingly diverse and complex, skilled IT professionals remain scarce. As a result, computers, mobile devices, or software often go unmonitored and unmanaged. This can bring about security threats, inefficiencies, and other problems. In this article, we look at the risks associated with unmonitored assets and show how managing these assets can help speed up digital transformation.
What are unmonitored assets and what kind of businesses do they impact?
IT assets are all types of IT resources being used within an organization. They include software, hardware, mobile devices, networks, and so on. These assets are unmonitored if they’re used for business purposes but aren’t actively tracked by the IT department. This can be because IT lacks the resources to keep track of these assets or deems it unnecessary for certain assets to be monitored, e.g., if they’ve been slated for replacement and are hardly used. Assets may also go unmonitored when employees get or use them without authorization from IT – also known as shadow IT. One example of shadow IT is using personal devices for business purposes without approval from IT. Another might be communicating with colleagues via WhatsApp when the company messenger app is Slack. According to Armis, no less than 40% of all corporate IT resources were unmonitored in 2023.
However, it’s vital to track your IT assets. Doing so ensures the security, compliance, and efficiency of digital business operations. And this doesn’t just apply to the technology sector. Unmonitored assets can create problems for companies in any industry. In healthcare, for instance, unmonitored assets can facilitate unauthorized access to sensitive patient data. In manufacturing, unmonitored assets may be used inefficiently which can lead to ad hoc maintenance, and unnecessary costs. In banking, a lack of centralized software monitoring can increase the risk of a security breach. You get the idea. Across all businesses, consistent and comprehensive IT asset management helps you mitigate these risks and allows you to enjoy the full benefits of digital transformation.
What are the biggest issues caused by unmonitored assets?
Cybersecurity is of central importance for every business. Usually, the IT department regulates asset configurations and user permissions. This means only the right people can access digital tools and sensitive information. However, unmonitored assets can compromise your organization’s security. They do this by allowing unauthorized persons to access networks, systems, and data. Unregulated data handling increases the risk of sensitive information being leaked or stolen. Unmonitored devices also don’t receive centrally managed updates and patch deployments. As a result, software vulnerabilities go unaddressed. This leaves your ecosystem prone to malware attacks. Armis revealed that the high rate of security breaches in 2023 was significantly correlated with a larger attack surface due to unmonitored IT assets.
A key aspect of asset monitoring is usage tracking. Your IT team can monitor if devices and software are being used to their full capacity. At the same time, they can identify opportunities to optimize resource allocation. Underused assets mean wasted resources and unnecessary costs. Overutilization, by contrast, leads to higher maintenance costs and an increased risk of outages. Unmonitored assets aren’t tracked by IT, so there’s no way of knowing if they’re being used optimally. And if employees use unmonitored IT resources instead of the assets provisioned to them by IT, costs may even be duplicated. Finally, unmonitored assets aren’t properly documented. This means they are more likely to be lost or stolen. All this can result in higher costs for your business.
Unmonitored assets can cause inefficiencies at all levels of your organization. For your IT team, they mean an incomplete view of the IT ecosystem and more unplanned maintenance and troubleshooting down the road. For the teams using unmonitored assets, workflows may be inefficient. This is because these assets aren’t properly integrated with their existing set of digital tools. And if teams are using different solutions for the same task, this may even have a negative effect on cross-functional collaboration. Unmonitored assets also don’t always receive updates, so teams may miss out on new functionality. When they malfunction, repair times tend to be longer. This causes extended downtime and a drop in productivity. Finally, the lack of data on unmonitored assets can also have negative results. For example, it can lead managers to make suboptimal decisions about technology investments and resource allocation.
You won’t be surprised to hear that asset monitoring and compliance go hand to hand. After all, you need to know the assets in your IT ecosystem to make sure they’re being used according to your standards. Comprehensive monitoring of all IT assets is needed to ensure compliance with internal security and data protection policies. It’s also required for industry or governmental standards like HIPAA and GDPR. Non-compliance here can lead to financial and legal consequences for your organization. Lastly, businesses that aren’t managing software licenses centrally may accidentally commit licensing violations. Even when accidental, this can result in hefty fines.
Why should businesses digitize now?
The demands on IT asset management have skyrocketed in recent years. Two reasons for this are bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and remote work policies. IT teams are extremely busy monitoring and managing assets used both on and off company premises. At the same time, they must identify and deal with devices and software that are acquired and used without their authorization.
Even so, Armis found that in 2023, 44% of companies were still using manual spreadsheets to document and monitor IT assets. This is despite manual asset tracking being time-consuming and more prone to human mistakes. They also found that on average, companies employed 11 different tools for asset management purposes. With each additional tool, the asset management process becomes more complex. A larger number of tools also means that more training and software maintenance are needed.
To reap the full benefits of digital transformation, companies need to improve their IT asset management. To do this, they need an all-in-one asset monitoring and management solution. Automated asset discovery and reporting removes the need for manual spreadsheets and allows for the identification of shadow IT.
Integrative capabilities with service desk and remote support solutions are also of huge benefit. By further streamlining IT management workflows, they allow IT professionals to carry out a variety of tasks from a single platform.
How to manage unmonitored assets
Know what you’re working with: Asset discovery and inventory
Regularly run a comprehensive asset discovery to identify unmonitored assets in your network. Create a detailed asset inventory. This should include technical asset information, the location of each asset, and who’s using it. Choose an asset management solution that lets you automate these tasks.
Lay down the rules: Define and enforce company policies
Introduce organization-wide policies to control how people procure, use, maintain, and get rid of IT assets. Use a monitoring solution to make sure every asset in your IT ecosystem conforms with these policies. When you identify non-compliant assets, you have two options. Either remove them from the infrastructure or reconfigure them to comply with your policies.
Keep a watchful eye: Monitor and assess assets continuously
Track the usage of the assets in your ecosystem to optimize costs. Use an asset management solution to monitor the health and security status of each asset. Perform preventative maintenance and patch deployments to prevent downtime and security gaps. Regularly reevaluate each team’s asset needs to ensure optimal resource allocation.
Raise awareness: Educate users across your organization
Educate users across your organization about the importance of central IT resource management. This will help them understand the risk of using unmonitored assets. Provide training materials about the correct and secure use of the assets available to them. Offer users a simple platform to ask questions, voice concerns, and request additional IT assets.
Embrace technology: Work with an automated asset management solution
A dedicated software solution can make your asset management workflow much easier. Choose a solution that’s compatible with the devices and operating systems (OS) in your IT infrastructure. Also make sure your asset management software covers the functionalities you need, such as remote asset discovery, monitoring, configuration, software patching and troubleshooting. This will ensure your asset management workflows are fast and consistent. Another attribute to look for is the ability to integrate your asset management solution with your existing set of IT management tools, like service desk or remote access software. Finally, consider how a solution with automation capabilities such as automated asset discovery, patch deployment, or user permissions management, can help you save time and avoid errors.
TeamViewer has just released a new version of its asset management solution in partnership with Lansweeper. This new solution offers a comprehensive set of features designed to keep your business safe.
Unmonitored assets slow down digital transformation. They do this by creating security risks, additional costs, inefficiencies, and compliance issues. A poorly monitored, inconsistent IT landscape makes it hard to improve and drive innovation. Yet, that’s exactly what companies need to do to stay competitive and meet customer needs.
Digitalizing and automating asset monitoring and management helps mitigate these problems and speed up digital transformation. It also frees up time for value-added tasks like strategic planning and resource optimization.
There are many digital asset management tools available. But it’s vital to choose the right one. It needs to be compatible with all deployed IT assets, integrate with existing IT management tools, and offer the right automation capabilities. TeamViewer’s new asset management solution in partnership with Lansweeper delivers all these features.
Ready to speed up your digital transformation?
Support your digital transformation with TeamViewer and Lansweeper’s asset management solution.