Tony Spruyt, SAM Services Manager UK
Today’s world simply cannot function without software. From TV’s through to food production, software pervades every area of our lives. 21st century commerce relies on technology and the applications and systems that make it work. CRM, ERP, websites, email, C #, Python, SQL*Server, you name it; someone is using it to keep the wheels of their business turning.
Life is digital; in fact, life is software managed to the tune of over $320 billion a year in revenues, at least according to Gartner. Overall IT technology spend is pushing north, as they say, of $3 trillion globally. That’s an awful lot of tech and software.
For businesses, it represents a sizeable chunk of their turnover. Hot software procurements are things like CRM, IT security and cloud-services provision. And there is always some new App or system that is going to revolutionise how business work, deliver that killer competitive advantage and help profits rise. Having nice shiny new things is nice; we all like new stuff, especially stuff that we think makes us into superstars in the eyes of the CEO.
Usually, when we buy software, it comes with a contract and licence agreement. And let’s face it, they can be as boring to read through as watching someone watching someone else’s paint dry. Who hasn’t tried to read the Apple contract when buying a nice new iPhone only to find their brain has given up, they’ve skipped to the end and clicked “I Agree” – thereby selling their soul in perpetuity if they break any one of the rules they didn’t read.
Admit it, all those licence agreements are as interesting as a politicians’ patter on polling day. But here is the thing, those licences matter. Perhaps you’ve an ERP system installed bought with a bundle of 10 x professional licences, 20 x semi-professional and a bucket load of read-only licences. Each bundle licenses employees in different work functions to access different parts of that lovely system you bought.
Time roles on, you forget and who bothered checking that you now have 15 x professional licences in use? And what about that cloned database copy you kept? Bah, so what. Shh, wait a minute, did you hear something in the distance? Thunder maybe?
Then there’s our beloved IT support. All that monitoring software keeping systems running, discs spinning and the nefarious on the right side of the firewall. How many upgrades did you do? Didn’t one of them bring a copy of something from their last place of employment? Damn useful that was, wasn’t it? Heck, it could be there is even a cupboard somewhere in IT filled with a bunch of those floppy disks for when you had 16bit operating systems.
Does anyone know what you have, don’t have and better still who is using it? Can you balance what you bought, who consumes it and whether you are paying too little or even too much?
Of course, why worry about licences. You are roughly in the ballpark, that’s fine, isn’t it? After all, you employed a bunch of ITIL experts to do things properly and you definitely use a modern software asset management system (SAM) don’t you? Maybe, then again maybe not.
Software forms a sizeable line-item on the company balance sheet. CFO’s really don’t like to have big-line items, not if they can help it. One of the reasons why cloud-services is growing are that they reduce the cost of running systems. But even if you are an Everything-as-a-Service type of organisation, you still have to pay licence fees for vendor support, upgrades, maintenance and just running the damn thing. Licences can be highly complex.
There are so many models: per core, per user, per site, number of concurrent users, named users, data throughput, processor usage and on and on and on. Vendors are often changing tack with every new release. A standard way of working would be nice but then so would always having sunny days each weekend and bank holiday.
Understandably, it is no fun ploughing through licence agreements, collating and understanding what you have versus what you actually use or are allowed to use.
Ask any IT manager or even business unit manager about licence agreements and watch their eyes glaze over as they point you in the direction of someone else. It is probably more fun to pull your nasal-hair out with blunt tweezers than track down what is where and why.
And as for compliance that can all get a wee bit serious if they come to call. If you are unlucky enough to be audited on a frequent basis by a vendor, then that can mean no small amount of pain. All in all, it can mean wasted time and money and that thunder you thought you heard may start to sound a little louder.
It’s not only the financial loss in terms of fines, it’s the lingering dark cloud of credibility loss or worse still your job. Using software illegally is kind of frowned upon. Paying for licences you no longer require is also frowned upon, but for very different reasons (By your CFO).
You need to be able to put your house in order without feeling the need to have a lobotomy first. It maybe the job that nobody really wants but in today’s modern market, it’s probably never been more important to be on top of.
As assets go, software is the virtual boss. Being in a position to know the value of those assets, the liabilities they may incur both in legal and security terms is a good position to be in. In addition, it offers the opportunity to review your software landscape and reduce costs, which in turn pleases the CFO; also a good position to be in.
There are sophisticated yet easy-to-use solutions out there and yes, you will need a licence, sorry but at least you’ll know where you are.
If you haven’t got a handle on your assets then those rumblings could mean there is a storm coming in your direction; so best get your umbrella out.
To speak with one of our SAM Consultants today please find all the contact details below:
Tony Spruyt | SAM Services Manager, UK | mobile: +44 (0) 7827 727 978 | email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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