Crowdsourcing Offers Innovative Approach to Reducing IT Costs

Executive Summary

It’s generally accepted industry knowledge that software represents 30 percent or more of total enterprises IT spend. Consequently, ensuring the most efficient use of software licenses has a significant impact on IT costs. That is a major driver of the emerging discipline of Software License Optimization and vendors have responded with Software License Optimization solutions.

Software license optimization has much in common with natural resource conservation programs. It is the goal of both to maximize the utilization of resources while also minimizing waste. In addition, both are significantly enhanced by the active participation of resource users.

Traditional software asset management (SAM) tools do not provide comprehensive software license optimization functionality. What’s more, they have not provided users with the information and tools they need to participate in the software license optimization process, nor have they motivated users to get involved. For this and other reasons, traditional SAM efforts have not realized the full potential of reducing spending on software.

Integrating the capabilities of a software license optimization solution with those of an enterprise app store provides users one place to go to get software and gives them the opportunity, via self-service, to help manage the usage of valuable software resources. It provides a mechanism with which IT can harness the power of business users to help eliminate waste in software licensing. The result is an environment that not only enables business users to quickly and easily access the applications they need but also empowers and motivates users to actively participate in software license optimization. In this environment, users can manage their own application usage and understand the costs associated with the applications they use.

The benefits are significant and include:

  • Reduced spending on new software
  • Reduction in time and resources to support, deliver and maintain applications
  • Reduced risk of non-compliance with corporate policy and license agreements
  • Tighter alignment of IT with the business and a closer relationships with users
  • Greater operational efficiency and higher employee productivity from giving users self-service access to the applications they need, when they need them.

Business Users, Important but Neglected Partners

Because software licenses costs represent a substantial portion of the budget, it’s imperative that they are treated as valuable resources and used in the most efficient way. End users are often unaware of the total cost of the software installed on their machines. For example, a user may be surprised to learn that his or her $2,000 laptop may be carrying $3,000 worth of software. Ignorance precludes any opportunity to help control spend and presents a challenge to enterprise IT organizations and the thousands of end users that depend on those applications every day.

To achieve a balanced application portfolio, like any conservation effort, IT needs to minimize waste in license resource consumption by leveraging what the enterprise already has to the maximum extent possible. Understanding the current license position before purchasing any new licenses is critical to reducing software costs.

Maintain License Compliance and Reduce Ongoing Software Costs – Save 5 to 25% of your annual software spend

To date, most IT efforts in software asset management have been top-down in nature, from IT down to users through the imposition of written policies and manual processes. For example, IT may prohibit the use of unauthorized software and uninstall it whenever it is discovered.

However, little has been done to solicit the contributions of users. Yet gaining their active participation can have a major positive impact on spending. Consider the impact active consumer participation has had on natural resource conservation efforts.

Enterprises need to give business users a role in managing their applications because they best know their own needs. The principle of crowdsourcing is that more heads are better than one. By involving a large crowd of people, the enterprise user community, to participate, the value derived from software license optimization will be superior. This requires providing the user community with the right data and tools, and encouraging them to participate. It’s a natural progression for many users who are already managing apps on their personal mobile devices.

The IT staff must enable users to get the applications they need, quickly and conveniently, whenever and wherever they need them. And there may be thousands of users and applications. However, it is also critical that IT does not compromise control in the quest for faster user access to applications. Maintaining software license compliance is essential. Non-compliance has serious business consequences such as unbudgeted software audit true-up fees and penalties.

The key is to maintain the optimum quantity and types of licenses to satisfy the ongoing needs of business users. An undersupply can result in either the inability to deliver the applications users need in a timely fashion because of lack of available licenses, or non-compliance through license overuse. On the other hand, an oversupply is wasteful and drives up costs unnecessarily.

Engaging Users through the Enterprise App Store

Many IT organizations are implementing enterprise app stores. The app store enables users to serve themselves and obtain the software they need quickly and hassle-free. The benefits include higher user productivity, lower IT costs and increased user satisfaction.

While giving users convenient and fast access to software through the app store, IT must retain control of software procurement and delivery to ensure compliance with internal policies and vendor license agreements. In addition, IT has to keep costs in check by maximizing the utilization of the software licenses already owned by the enterprise. This combination of requirements presents quite a challenge.

Many products that are touted as enterprise app stores are incomplete solutions. To enable IT to meet the challenge, an app store must provide a number of minimal capabilities that include:

  • Consumer-like shopping experience
  • Robust approval process for requests that require approval
  • Fast and reliable delivery of applications and operating systems

In addition, the solution should provide strict control of software delivery and optimum utilization of software assets by:

  • Ensuring that a license is available and allocated prior to installation
  • Providing an automated way to reclaim the license after it is no longer used
  • Triggering the purchase of additional licenses when needed
  • Creating an audit trail of all pertinent activities

And that’s not all. Beyond providing a place where users can request software, the app store also provides an ideal place in which to connect with users and engage them in a software license optimization partnership. This requires three additional capabilities:

  • A user view of all applications installed on the device with pertinent information about cost and usage
  • An issue notification and response mechanism that enables IT to interact with users
  • Feedback to users on their level of participation in and adherence to software policy