I am a firm believer that software asset management (SAM) should be a strategic focus for any mature ICT department. The delivery and management of software is key to every digital strategy and those that do not manage this process effectively will fail to meet business requirements. With this said, I acknowledge that the procurement of a SAM tool is often seen as a grudge purchase. This is largely predicated on the assumption that SAM tools merely tick the compliance box and add little extra value (which they do but that is for another discussion). If you are sitting in this camp, you need to think of your SAM tool investment as an insurance policy, here’s why?
Few of us live without insurance. In a risk-averse society, the threat of future potential financial losses is too great for most of us to ignore. These policies largely take the form of life, household and medical insurance. If you do not see SAM as strategic, you should definitely be seeing it as an insurance policy.
Software, by its very nature, is pervasive. Without the right management and controls in place it can spread like wildfire through an organisation. Software sprawl is underpinned by a number of forces at play in businesses today:
- End users demand ‘freedom’ and a ‘shopping’ experience in their business environment, the same way they experience technology with their devices at home. Bring your own device (BYOD) exacerbates this force and adds additional ‘unmanaged’ and unwanted software into the enterprise.
- Software which is relevant for a purpose and function often becomes obsolete when users change roles or workstations are transferred. This software waste becomes the elephant sitting in the corner waiting for a vendor audit
- The vendors are not doing us any favours. They largely allow their software to be deployed in an easy fashion as they want us to install it. For the vendor, every install represents dollars and hence regulating software is often not in their interests.
- The cloud and the internet in general, opens the end user up to the proverbial software pantry. There is so much out there, often accessible as a free download, but once it hits your corporate network you become liable.
- Finally, lack of management control and the correct tooling ensures that unlicensed and often unused software runs rampant within an organisation, elevating risk profiles and financial obligations.
Investment in a SAM tool can lower this risk profile significantly. And the risk is significant. Too often these days are the stories of clients with multi-million dollar fines due to non-compliance with their software agreements. And the vendors are ruthless. Driven by diminishing revenue streams, they insist on exercising their audit rights and squeeze out every drop of additional license fees and penalties. Financially this is quantifiable, but the exposure in terms of reputation risk and shareholder value can run much deeper.
Without SAM, you are nowhere, whether strategically or just as insurance you just have to do it and you have to do it right.