Unlicensed software is a big problem. BSA, The Software Alliance conducted a 2013 survey of unlicensed software across more than 110 national and regional economies and found that the rate of software installation without proper licensing continued to grow from 2011 to 2013. In 2013, the estimated commercial value of unlicensed PC software installations was $62.7 billion globally.
Software vendors want to recoup money lost through unlicensed software installations.
The Federation Against Software Theft (FAST), an organization that investigates allegations of pirated software use, says that in 2012, Microsoft products accounted for around half of the copyright infringement claims it dealt with that were settled out of court. Specifically, Microsoft’s Office suite and Windows OS each accounted for around 24% of unlicensed software the organization uncovered in 250 claims of copyright infringement.
While many IT service desk managers claim to have software policies in place, end-users often don’t know about it, and that can end up getting companies into serious trouble with software manufacturers.
The BSA Crackdown in Manchester, UK
In the UK last year, unlicensed software had a commercial value of £1.2 billion ($1.87 billion). BSA has recently singled out the city of Manchester as the site for a “Fair Play” campaign aimed at getting unlicensed and counterfeit software under control. The organization plans to contact 11,000 businesses in and around Manchester and encourage those who are knowingly or unknowingly using unlicensed software to clean up their act.
Those businesses will be given the opportunity to check their individual profile on a BSA portal where they can check their licensing status. Adobe and Autodesk software appear to be particularly popular in Manchester, home to many design and architecture firms. While this approach by the BSA may appear to be all stick and no carrot, the organization says that there are organizations paying for more licenses than they need, and they could end up saving money by squaring their license situation.
Software Asset Management Is More Important Than Ever
Besides BSA, individual software manufacturers sometimes act unilaterally in cracking down on unlicensed software. As a result, software asset management is a more prominent topic among businesses of all sizes than it ever has been. Sometimes, companies are surprised to find themselves in noncompliance, because they thought they were being conscientious about licenses, but it’s very easy to lose track of licenses without a focused software asset management program – typically as part of an overall IT asset management program.
The key to avoiding unwittingly slipping into software noncompliance is to start early on, including software licenses as part of the IT asset management system. Software asset management that’s part of IT asset management, and that’s integrated with the IT service desk can prevent many headaches. Should an end-user submit a help ticket about a piece of software, the IT service desk can then view the user or machine’s IT asset management profile and quickly learn whether the software is in compliance, and if not, address the issue.
Integrating Software Asset Management With the IT Service Desk
When the IT service desk, IT asset management, and software asset management are siloed, opportunities for reconciling software licenses can be missed, and the result can be a pileup of noncompliance issues that nobody really knows about. Should a software vendor or watchdog organization target the business for an audit, the result can be significant upheaval, and the potential for serious financial penalties.
If your company is interested in implementing software asset management, doing so as part of an overall IT asset management program that’s integrated with the IT service desk offers the best use of information and the best chance of any inconsistencies being noticed and addressed before problems can arise.
An Issue No Organization Can Afford to Ignore
Nobody wants to be the IT manager who has to go to the board and answer their question about the unexpected bill for $750,000 from a software vendor. Aside from the financial aspect, failing a software audit can be terrible for the morale of the IT team and end-users as well. Whether your company employs 10 or 10,000, software asset management is as critical to outstanding IT service delivery as having a top-performing IT service desk. Implementing software asset management is like the planting of a tree as expressed in the Chinese proverb: the best time to do it is 20 years ago. The second best time is now.