Business Software Alliance (BSA) surveys claim that billions of pounds-worth of commercial software are being used illegally around the world – about a fifth of their potential revenue.
So it would be fair to assume they will continue to try to recoup this revenue. We can expect already pretty aggressive vendors to spend even more on software audit and compliance campaigns.
Illegal software use is, according to the BSA, most common in emerging economies – but software sales are larger in the developed world, accounting for nearly 40 per cent of the total shortfall in software revenue.
In North America and Europe, not only is your target audience likely to be more educated about compliance, but an established legal basis exists under which a vendor's right to audit can be executed.
Organisations across North America and Western Europe should expect an increase in both the volume and frequency of software publisher audits in the coming 12 months.
Gartner has claimed that organisations have about a 65 per cent chance of being audited by at least one software vendor each year. We think that by next year this figure will rise, and the chance of being audited by more than one vendor will be higher too.
Our customers' current experience of vendor audits further corroborates this view.
The rest of the world shouldn't think it can simply relax, away from the spotlight, either. Although many software publishers have not yet launched full audit programmes in Asia-Pacific, Eastern Europe or Latin America, they are coming. We know this because we are working with a number of software publishers on just such projects.
Be proactive about managing your software assets if you want to minimise the cost and disruption caused by what can only be described as inevitable audits.
It is far better to be in control when it comes to uncovering the ugly truths about software non-compliance – well away from the scrutiny of the software vendor. It's also an opportunity to reduce cost, identifying and eliminating surplus software licences.
Ultimately, the focus should be on creating a transparent and cost-effective way to manage software licences that is fair to consumers and providers of software.
Jelle Wijndelts is senior SAM consultant at Snow Software
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