Keeping those digital ducks in a row

Keeping those digital ducks in a row

When it comes to managing software and software licences, most companies focus on compliance rather than cost-cutting as a precautionary step. However, this often leads to unnecessary software being bought and over-licensed, which, as SHEQ MANAGEMENT discovers, can be an extremely costly mistake.

According to Tim James, MD of sustainableIT, the fear of being caught with unlicensed products is steering many organisations towards purchasing more and more software, even though much of it might never be deployed, used or add any value. “This results in unnecessary costs as companies are still paying maintenance fees for software they aren’t using, or purchasing additional licences rather than reallocating existing ones,” he explains.

Analysis conducted on a number of organisations shows that 20 to 40 percent of licences deployed aren’t being used or reclaimed. James notes that this represents US$12,3 billion (R108,12 billion) in preventable and ongoing costs in the United States alone – where a typical enterprise with 10 000 users has US$4,1 million (R36,04 million) worth of unused software on their PCs, costing $1,1 million (R9,67 million) annually for ongoing maintenance. It’s clear that companies should be asking themselves what they want, what they are using and what they really need.

James says very few organisations have software asset management strategies in place, which exposes them to considerable financial risks. “As long as software is bought and licensed legally, it’s forgotten,” he says. “Very few organisations stop to detect unused software or shelfware, which is never deployed to begin with, across the myriad of systems, locations, PCs and servers – never mind reclaiming or reusing them.”

Clearly, software asset management tools should be used and maintained to ensure that licence entitlements and deployments stay in synch. James adds that, in 2011, a software efficiency report showed that 52 percent of enterprises use spreadsheets to record software licences, 12 percent use paper-based filing systems and another 12 percent use nothing whatsoever. “Keeping track of licences is the key to remaining cost efficient,” he says.

Bundled deals, licence options and virtualisation have all contributed to the complexity of software asset management, and organisations are struggling to pair the software they have actually deployed with the software they’ve licensed. “Very few seem to know how much money and waste is tied up in their software, and how much they could save by efficiently managing their licences,” emphasises James. He adds that software vendors are becoming increasingly vigilant, clamping down through regular audits that can result in heavy fines, substantial back-charges and the threat of legal action.

Not having a handle on what software is deployed, and how many licences related to a particular piece of software are in place, is another concern. “Typically, organisations will purchase a number of licences,” says James, “however, they will have to pay extra for additional usage if more than the entitlement is deployed.” He adds that this doesn’t only hold a financial risk, but a reputational risk as well, because, for all intents and purposes, if not disclosed and procured, this is interpreted as licence theft.

James emphasises that this can be avoided through licence metering and by checking what tools are implemented. He cites AppClarity as an example. Supplied by 1E, a global player in IT efficiency software, AppClarity gives users the ability to reclaim unused applications both in an automated fashion and through a user-centric approach. “Companies can thus curb their unnecessary costs dramatically,” says James, adding that it provides a quick and effective way of eliminating software waste while safeguarding the organisation against vendor audits.

Ultimately, with all the technology available to make the process a breeze, there is no excuse for not having a software asset management strategy in place.

A smart move

The healthcare, medical and security company International SOS has a mobile application that provides business travellers with instant access to the latest location-specific medical and security alerts.

Using the Pyxis Mobile platform (software that allows companies to build and update their own mobile applications instead of hiring outside firms to do it for them), the app integrates with International SOS’s proprietary security and medical information systems, as well as its global alarm centre.

It was developed to help organisations fulfil their Duty of Care, a company’s obligation to protect its employees from risks, and to safeguard employees who travel abroad to high-risk locations as part of their employment. The application is supported by most leading smartphones, including iPhone, BlackBerry and Android.

“Even in so-called low-risk destinations, business travellers can be affected by medical conditions, accidents, natural disasters, or political unrest,” says Jason Krause, MD of International SOS. “The app enables companies to protect their business travellers from such threats by extending their travel risk management capabilities directly into the hands of their employees.”

Features include:

• The latest medical and security alerts according to location;

• Quick dial for immediate assistance whenever help or advice is needed;

• Access to existing online membership services;

• Immediate retrieval of membership numbers for faster alarm centre assistance; and

• Access to International SOS’s global network of 68 000 professionals, including clinics, alarm centres, air ambulances and medical specialists, as well as security, aviation and logistics personnel.

“Given the turbulent state of many countries, security and medical threats are unfortunately very real for business travellers,” says Krause. “As the vast majority of business travellers have smartphones, however, we are confident that this app will enable our clients to mitigate against some of these risks.”

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