Software normalization and categorization sound like quite an intimidating process, the kind of thing you probably need a couple of bachelor’s degrees for. Since you’re never too old to stop learning, today we’re going to demystify some of the more intimidating elements of software normalization and categorization. At MetrixData 360, we are an independent software asset management consulting company specializing in data normalization, along with software contract negotiations, software audit defense, evaluation of license readiness for migration to the cloud, just to name a few of our many skills. If you want to learn more about what we do, you can check out our about us page. But for now, let’s get into the weeds of data normalization, what it is, how to do it, and how we can help.

Why Should You Care About Data Normalization?

Data normalization is an important process in software asset management that systematically cleans and identifies data, filtering out unneeded information and standardizing the data in a format that is easily readable. Some of the main benefits of data normalization include:

  • Speeding Up the Process of Data Collection: Imagine all the different formats your data could potentially be stored in. Reading your data accurately without a data normalization tool will require you to manually go in and input the data into a single platform. This could take weeks of work and leaves you open to human error.
  • Improves Visibility: Effective software asset management where you can ensure compliance and cost-effective measures begins with knowing what you have. If you are just beginning your software asset management journey, you can check out our article on how to get started.
  • Negotiation Advantage: Knowing exactly what you have and exactly what you need will give you an advantage in your next software negotiation with your vendor. Software vendors profit off of your uncertainty when it comes to the number of licenses; purchasing too many licenses means you are wasting money and purchasing too few means you are open to compliance risks which again means more money for the software vendors. Having a data normalization tool can level the playing field.
  • Discover Security Risks: Software asset management is often underappreciated for its uses in cybersecurity. However, data normalization involves painting an accurate picture of all the licenses that you have activated in your environment and this will give the cybersecurity team the ability to know what must be patched and updated. It is also important to note that cybercriminals will often use untracked and forgotten assets as an entry point into your software environment. Software asset management eliminates the risk of these forgotten legacy licenses.

What is Involved in the SAM Normalization Process?

Although complicated in practice, the concept of the process of gathering and normalizing software data is quite simple. During the normalization process, you have two goals in mind: collect deployment data and eliminating redundant data (such as instances where a license may be counted twice if it is found on two different tables) to ensure your table is referencing a finite number of applications. These two goals are achieved through matching software installation data to a central contact library comprised of recognized software, the process also adds things such as publisher, product, and version value to the discovered model. These discovery methods are used to connect installed software to entitlements related to that software model.

The process of data normalization can be quite simple or terribly complicated, depending on how you go about it. So here are a few tips to keep in mind when you’re attempting to normalize your data:

Don’t Try to Do It Manually

I can’t stress this enough. The data is too complicated and too time-consuming to do by yourself. The exception for this is if you are a small company, with only a few desktops to keep track of. The more devices you have, the pricklier things can get and the data you pull by endlessly counting is unlikely to even be accurate as you try to keep track of everything in your software environment.

Data Normalization in SCCM

SCCM is an excellent tool at your disposal as you wrestle your data under control. It is an excellent way to monitor Microsoft tools and can be integrated neatly with a third-party tool.

If you are using SCCM, it is important that you ensure your data is of good quality by making sure your SCCM data isn’t stuck in silos but is instead accessible to those who would find it useful, including HR, procurement, and security.

SCCM can easily become overwhelming since it can collect hundreds of thoughts of pieces of data. Don’t get discouraged, however, since the next step is to clean up this data into something you can use.

Upload Your SCCM Data into Your SAM Tool

This is where things get a little difficult if you do not have a SAM tool properly installed since it is a SAM tool that can normalize your data in a manner that is easy to read and use. With the data your SAM tool produces, you can start rooting out compliance issues, find cybersecurity threats, and start developing a plan to minimize software costs. Ensuring that your SAM tool can produce trustworthy data is always a challenge, which is why it is important when you are picking your SAM tool to do your research or else you may be forced to resort to installing a secondary SAM tool or even picking up the slack through manual effort. That is why at MetrixData 360, we have a wide variety of resources available to help you come to an informed decision regarding your next SAM tool.

So, you can check out some of our resources, including: Best Software Asset Management Tools of 2020 and 5 Factors to Consider when Buying a Software Asset Management Tool.

How MetrixData 360 Can Help Get Your Software Under Control

As you can imagine, normalizing your data can be a daunting challenge if you are forced to go through it alone with just a notepad and pencil. Going about the task manually means you’ll be counting until you go blind, and there’s an uncomfortable chance you’ll get something wrong. This is why you’ll need your own SAM team who can own the project and someone who comes to the table with the skills and tools you need to get the job done quickly and accurately. Which is why MetrixData 360 has prepared a state-of-the-art Data Normalization strategy with proven results. If you’d like to know more about what we do and how we do it, you can reach out and contact us by clicking the link below and we will get to you in under 24 hours.

About Mike Austin

Mike Austin is the CEO and team lead here at MetrixData 360. Mike brings more than 15 years of Microsoft licensing experience to his clients’ projects. He assists companies with negotiations of Microsoft Enterprise Agreements (EA), Premier Support Contracts, and Select Agreements, from Fortune 500 to organizations with as few as 500 employees. Mike's vast experience across multiple industries including financial services, high tech, manufacturing, media, health care, government, and retail give him an edge in any business environment. In addition to helping negotiate contracts, he assists clients with creating and implementing software asset management processes to prevent over-purchasing of licenses and ensures terms and conditions reflect actual usage.