BY: Mr. Vikas Bhonsle, CEO, Crayon Software Experts India Pvt Ltd
Information and Communications Technology is modifying the nature of interactions across various platforms of the world. The use of ICT has been increasing prominently across a multiplicity of arenas, including Governance. E-governance is the new norm and governments are investing in ICT to reach out to the citizens. Governments globally are tapping into the potential of ICT to offer accessible and inexpensive end to end services to the citizens all round the clock. Widespread use of internet and mobile technology has also led service seekers to turn to online mediums for government information and service. ICT is also improving the effectiveness, accountability and transparency of the Government processes.
E-Governance projects demand elaborate and complex hardware & software, networking and capacity building. The infusion of a stellar Software Asset Management into this scenario is a practical move on many fronts.
Software is an intangible asset and this brings a variable set of challenges into the frame. The intangibility element of software and the copyright and contract clauses pose a one of a kind challenge when it comes to managing it as an asset. The nature of the challenge naturally amplifies when the software to be managed belongs to a large unit like the Government of India.
Managing software asset has become of paramount importance to the Government as it carries out critical e-Governance projects of national significance. With increasing citizen Government interactions taking place online utilizing software applications, there rests a responsibility for effective management of IT assets.
Organizations relying on software assets for daily services are faced with a multitude of trends that require efficient monitoring. The key is to ensure proper management of IT assets and have up to date licenses & upgrades. Also important is the relevant documentation of software versions.
Most organizations also have to work around client devices like mobiles and computers that are connected to unsecured networks. These pose a risk of frequent virus and security attacks. Increasing frequency of client security patch releases and differing license agreements of widely used open source and licensed software add volumes to the management process. Requirement of periodic independent audits of many license agreements presents additional challenges.
Need for expedition of e-governance projects has led to the involvement of Industry and Private Sector firms in the projects. Albeit this has widened the bandwidth for implementation of projects, it has also laid emphasis on retaining strategic control of deliverables and outcomes within the Ministries or Departments. The incorporation of SAM in this stance enables management of all the customized software assets of a particular project and licensed software procured by the outsourced agency for the implementation of the project.
An effective Software Asset Management (SAM) framework will enable the Department to deal with the challenges posed and at the same time comply with the regulatory, legal, IPR and security requirements of the Software being used.
Very often, clients are victims of identity theft over the network. Security features within SAM can help prevent theft or the unauthorized use of a system. Technological assists like passwords, power on passwords, set‐up passwords, smart cards or biometrics technology can ensure secure access. Security locks which can be activated remotely, central and remote activation and deactivation of the system, disabling of interfaces like serial, parallel, Universal Serial Bus [USB], locally and remotely come as a comprehensive package with SAM.
The multifold benefits of SAM include reduced expenditure on software, decreased ongoing maintenance costs, improved system security, data integrity and data security and enhanced insight into software effectiveness and closer linkage with business strategies.
This comes as an ideal prospect for e-governance, as greater emphasis can then be laid on delivering polished services to the citizens, ultimately resulting in affective governance. Tasks costing time to manage will fall under the managing canopy of SAM. Greater attention to varied licenses and licensing environment by SAM will provide ample margin to render attention to more important services.
Investment in SAM for e-Governance will guarantee optimal use of technology, accurate understanding of licensing compliance to run authorized software and promote user privacy by encrypting of user access details. Full potential of the software can be harnessed to improve flexibility, responsiveness, information flow, among other intangible benefits.
In an era where e-communication is the way of life, it is only fitting to delve into technological options that will further fine tune the process. The endorsement of Software Asset Management in the e-governance system will further provide impetus to extend effective and hassle-free government services to the citizens – keeping true the initial purpose for the conception of e-governance in the country.