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IT Chiefs Switch Focus from SAM to Cost Savings

An online survey of senior IT personnel, by software efficiency and IT Audit consultancy group Liken, has revealed the affect of the current economic backdrop on attitudes to Software Asset Management. Many of those polled, now feel that Software Asset Management standards have become too onerous and have switched their primary focus to delivering cost savings internally.

The online survey of over 250 senior IT personnel from both public and private sectors revealed that 58% of respondents have now switched their primary focus away from adoption of the latest SAM standards to seeking software cost savings. Key areas of cost scrutiny were usage, software licences and reviewing open source alternatives.

This contrasted markedly with those who stated that their primary focus was performance improvement (18%), or achieving a return on investment (24%). However, despite the altered focus, the vast majority of those questioned (64%) felt that the main importance of existing SAM investments was to ensure regulatory compliance.

One in three respondents (31%) felt that formal SAM programs like ISO 19770, SAM Advantage and FAST are too onerous and fail to provide clear business benefits. In addition, well over one in four respondents (28%) felt that they did not currently posses the budgetary resources to implement the standards fully.

When questioned specifically about the latest ISO 19770 standard, 46% of respondents, the majority response, felt that they are less likely to invest in achieving this standard than they had been in 2008.

James Rowlands CEO of Liken feels that the figures suggest a clear picture of the prevailing thought processes of CIOs and other senior management. In his view, "Over the last 10 years a whole industry has grown up around supporting organisations to meet SAM standards along with other best practice goals. However, because of the dramatic economic volte face, IT management clearly equates formal SAM programs with compliance; in that it is primarily a method for meeting regulatory obligations. Cost savings are not seen to be a key deliverable of SAM standards and consequently they are seen as onerous and resource intensive. This is likely to explain why our figures showed that organisations are less likely to implement formal SAM programs than they were a year ago.

"The primary focus seems to have shifted to achieving whatever savings are possible, albeit not at the risk of breeching compliance. From our relationship with our own clients, one of the key areas where the costs saving focus has been most intense is software licensing. Many companies are starting to question whether they have over licensed to ensure compliance or whether they are under-utilising the software they already have licenses for. Many believe that by reviewing their licence and related maintenance requirements that they can reduce costs without significantly impacting service level agreements or performance. Others seem to be taking a greater or renewed interest in Open Source alternatives.

"In the future, even with the prospect of a recovery in sight, SAM must now re-focus on how it can reduce costs. The new message is not just 'be legal' but rather be 'lean and legal'. To achieve this, the primary goal of SAM should be to reduce the amount and types of software in use, therein delivering the most cost-efficient usage possible. Regular software efficiency auditing and software usage metering would help achieve this in the meantime and it would surely be good practice to build these processes into software management from now forwards."



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