Are Your Software Dollars Gathering Dust? It's Time to Eliminate the Shelfware and Cloud Waste!
March 24, 2021

Rex McMillan
Ivanti

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Software spend in 2021 and beyond will be a hot button as organizations redirect priorities and spending as a result of the pandemic. Spend that can be linked to clear results — more productivity, more ROI, and better integration of the remote workforce — will be looked upon as worthy. However, wasted spend — particularly software assets that have devolved into "shelfware" or cloud waste — will be a ripe opportunity for CIOs and IT management to direct a laser beam on optimizing software asset usage and its potential drain on budget.

With IT teams now supporting workers who are predominantly in remote environments and the attendant security challenges, a fair question is, "Should worrying about shelfware and uncontrolled cloud usage be added to the list of top concerns?" According to Gartner, "At any point in time IT operations may be running with 25% plus of software going unused." A benchmark study a few years back estimated U.S. wasted software spend to be $30 billion, or an average $259 per desktop. If your organization has 20,000 desktops, for example, that equals $5.2 million in investment bringing in zero return.

So, the answer is yes, tightening control over software asset and cloud spend and use should be on the radar. Inevitably, the C-suite, looking to 2021, will be asking tough questions about any new requested spending. And importantly, IT will be expected to deliver a thorough, cogent report on "spend intelligence" related to software use and whether these assets are contributing to desired business outcomes or are simply a money drain.

Spend intelligence is, among other attributes, a means of getting control of shelfware and cloud consumption. It captures data on all software asset spend and cloud application usage and assesses actual use. It then gives rise to the ability to better manage and retire software and cloud assets, or repurpose them, throughout their usable lifecycle. It is a noble goal. However, gathering data on all software and cloud applications has become far more difficult as IT teams now must look at the universe of those assets residing on-prem, in the cloud, or at the edge where remote workers are using devices and applications to enter the network.

The solution is to incorporate automation, machine learning and data analytics into software spend inquiries. This will accelerate insights into how well an organization is using its current software asset environment, and to put a laser light on all assets that have become shelfware. A few practices to consider include the following:

Eliminate Time-Wasting Tasks

A survey of IT professionals revealed 45% use inventory tools as one of their resources for asset tracking, 43% are still using spreadsheets and 50% are using an endpoint management solution. Introducing automated processes into spend intelligence gathering will eliminate time-consuming manual tasks. Data can be collected and maintained in a single, easily navigated repository, reducing the risk of error.

Automate Data Intelligence

Capturing software asset data across on-prem, cloud and edge environments requires tools that can employ automation to collect data from these diverse environments, then automatically analyze and organize the data into relevant categories like licenses or subscriptions.

By moving this data to a central repository, IT teams can quickly find information they need on a particular license, for example, by just using a search mechanism on the dedicated dashboard.

Speed Up Visibility

Stopping the shelfware and cloud waste budget drain involves not only knowing what unused software assets already exist but also preventing more of those assets from becoming dormant and unused. That takes constant diligence in tracking usage, license types, purchases, subscriptions, renewals and instances, contract expirations and ongoing spend.

Automated processes give IT clear insights into precisely where software spend waste is occurring.

IT also provides an up-to-the-minute picture of which applications are consistently being used, detail that will eventually need to be factored into budget strategy reports to the C-suite.

Dust Off the Shelf

If a software asset is not being used in a reasonable timeframe, it needs to be eliminated, or redeployed where the license cost is valued. That usually means making changes to subscriptions, licenses and contracts, notably those with built-in renewal clauses.

Ivanti's survey of IT professionals found 28% devote hours each week supporting out-of-warranty/out-of-support policy assets, and 20% of them indicate they don't have insights into which assets are out of date. This combination of unused software and those licenses past their expiration date is a weak link in IT's and CIO's charters to spend carefully and strategically post-pandemic. Integrating automated tools that can deliver the needed due diligence in managing vendor relationships has to be a top priority.

Reclaim Dollars

The payoff for incorporating automation into software asset management is clearer insights into asset spend, usage and contractual agreements — both on-prem and in the cloud. IT teams now can reclaim dollars that no longer need to be spent on software assets that have become shelfware or cloud waste, are underutilized or are now out-of-date.

Going into 2021, software asset spending will be a source of more scrutiny as IT executives and CIOs fine tune spending to further stabilize productivity in the remote environment. Spending will occur, but IT departments who have excessive amounts of shelfware, or cloud application licenses that have long stopped contributing to ROI, will be in a weakened position to make a case for new investments. By incorporating automation into data collection and software asset management due diligence, IT can gain the power of knowledge to make a case for new strategic investments, all with an eye to better business outcomes.

Rex McMillan is Principal Product Manager at Ivanti.
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