For an organization to understand and properly apply user-to-device affinity — since this affinity is crucial to many aspects of the company, from budgets to IT planning — it is imperative to know who the owner of a machine is. However, ownership is defined differently by every organization, and multiple factors come into play, such as the quantity and quality of data gathered.

Defining User-To-Device Affinity

Every organization defines user-to-device affinity differently. For some organizations, the moment an employee logs into a device is the moment they take ownership of it. Other organizations require that an employee consistently logs in for a minimum of 10, 20, or even 30 working days before the asset is considered owned by the user, division, business unit, etc.

Determining ownership can also become more complicated. For example, if someone logs in for 30 consecutive working days but only prints a document, and someone else logs in 13 times a month (not consecutively) but has Outlook open for 6 hours a day, it is difficult to point to an owner.

Then there is the issue of shared machines, such as those used by day/night shift workers or employees in a call center. Since, in situations like these, there is no clear-cut owner:

  • Who owns the asset for depreciation and maintenance purposes?
  • Who pays for a hardware refresh?
  • How do you understand the usage of the machine and the applications used?

Understanding who owns or uses a particular machine is crucial, especially when it comes time for an asset migration, regardless of whether it is to a virtual machine or another physical one. While SCCM can be used to make the connection between a user and a device, it is not the proper tool for this job, because SCCM only cares about having the user-to-device connection made, and not about all the rules around ownership that a company has.

For instance, in the call center scenario, multiple people will need to be informed that a device is being migrated since they will all be affected. In any IT migration scenario, is the right persona and application personalization going to be carried over, or will each user have to start over? Having to reestablish all the settings not only wastes time but also causes frustration, which leads to inefficiency on the part of the user.

Additionally, when migrating a device, it is important to know which apps are relevant for migration. If a significant portion of the apps can be rationalized, then the budget for that business unit will be freed up.

Gathering & Using The Data

As we mentioned earlier, SCCM or other agents can be used to gather data on your IT environment, but this data can be limited, and since some agents are prone to breaking and often need to be patched, this leaves gaps in your data. Using Access Symphony, you can gather all the required data on user, app, and device behavior — set to your specifications and thresholds. For example, you may decide that ownership of a machine is determined by who has the most number of days logged in the last 30, or that ownership is dependent upon the applications used over the last quarter (financial reporting).

Since Symphony is able to gather and store a massive amount of data, the criteria for ownership, migration, and rationalization can be easily gathered and organized to suit the needs of each division or sub-unit. With Access Symphony, the correct budget from the correct department can be used properly, even in the case of shared devices. What’s more, Symphony has a much smaller footprint than other agents, and can even fix SCCM and other agents.


When it comes time to do a hardware refresh or upgrade software, the more consistent data you have available, the better the outcome will be. Having more detailed data gives you more control to make correct decisions (such as which department’s budget should foot the bill or a portion of it), eliminate unused software to save costs, and make sure all users are aware of the changes so they don’t lose access or become inefficient due to lost settings. Being able to define the rules around user-to-device affinity, and even change those rules based on the quality data coming in, is vital for a modern workplace.