The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting move to hybrid work models turned asset management into a top priority for South African businesses virtually overnight.

This is according to Jonathan Bass, Managing Director of enterprise asset management specialist NetTrace (Pty) Ltd, whose solution portfolio includes asset tracking, risk management, security and reporting tools for all enterprise assets.

Bass says NetTrace’s solutions, born out of IT asset loss control technology over 20 years ago, are now in high demand as organisations realise how crucial it is to maintain accurate asset registers, and track leased and owned assets throughout the asset lifecycle.

“When the environment became more complex due to remote and hybrid work, organisations realised asset management and security had become a bigger problem – they needed to manage devices remotely and roll out security policies to remote devices. To meet these needs, we also offer endpoint security and are about to launch a VPN management toolset,” he says.

Gift Mkhonza, Business Development Manager for NetTrace at Axiz, says a key procurement challenge organisations now face is a disparate, fragmented system that lacks the integration required for end-to-end visibility. “The challenge in the South African region is a lack of visibility of the usage and lifespan of managed assets. If an organisation does not have an accurate asset baseline to work from, it cannot expect to manage a return on investment on assets, whether these are physical or software-based,” he says. “Many organisations cannot be sure they’re managing all assets. When asset-based decisions are driven by data that is inaccurate, outdated, or incomplete, there could be numerous unwanted implications for the business.”

Bass elaborates: “The issue is that while most organisations have fairly well-structured processes for purchasing assets, procurement is not where the problem lies. The problem starts when the asset goes into the production or working environment. At that point, you need to ensure what you think you purchased is actually what you purchased, if there are discrepancies, there will be a problem with your audits in future. Then, it’s about deployment of the asset in its operational state – ensuring it is assigned to the right department or person, and that the organisation gets a return out of that procurement. “

NetTrace solutions integrate management and reporting across the complete operational spectrum; plan, acquire, deploy, manage and retire phases of asset management. The technology goes further to enable more efficient auditing via the NAMScan App or via its Tracking Agents and automation, and track and secure endpoint devices with Canadian-based Absolute Software technology. Bass notes: “We automate into registers, stores management and the verification of assets and generate business information about the asset environment.

Says Mkhonza: “Analytics are a crucial, if not the most important aspect of any business. Often companies spend a fortune employing a business analyst or external consultancy to manage the health of their business; however, with NetTrace you have access to a console that is so easy to analyse and manoeuvre, it will turn anyone into a business analyst/decision-maker as it gives you a holistic asset tracking, risk management and reporting in a single pane of glass.”

Opportunities in asset management support services

While advanced asset management is now accessible to any enterprise, skills shortages can still make optimisation of these systems a challenge. Bass says. “The solutions exist, but often the problem is in the implementation and support. NetTrace sees huge opportunities for resellers to offer support services in South Africa.”

Mkhonza says: “Support services are a vital part of the market, especially when it involves hardware investments. In the multi-faceted managed services world, support services are becoming a powerful way for channel resellers to build stronger relationships with their customers and discover upsell opportunities.

Support services help businesses with a number of challenges, like helping organisations to identify and adapt to new technologies that will assist them to grow, as well as ensure smooth business continuity during procurement and implementation.”

As a leading digital technologies and services distributor providing world-class products and a host of services, Axiz has built commercial and technological ecosystems that allow its partner base to provide best-of-breed solutions that meet the business needs of its customers, Mkhonza says. “We believe that NetTrace fits very well in this strategy, as they give our channel partners the ability to meet surging demand for solutions that dynamically monitor asset environments and deliver real-time information for decision-making. There are also opportunities to add value with service and support over and above the actual technology,” he says.