Companies are wasting large amounts of money on unused applications, according to research among senior IT staff, with the largest firms estimating they have lost millions of pounds.

Data integration software firm Informatica found that 81 percent of IT professionals across Europe believe their corporate networks are hosting unused applications and data.

These inefficiencies are placing significant cost burdens on organisations in terms of IT resource, power and management time.

In the research, 75 percent of IT professionals said their company had applications on the corporate network that had not been used in the last three years. On average, amongst these companies, these applications represented a quarter of the total number of applications on the system.

The problem is particularly pronounced for companies with more than 1,000 employees. In some cases, the expense is estimated to amount to more than €2 million per year.

The Informatica research found that 86 percent of IT professionals believed their IT systems would run more efficiently if these unused applications were removed.

The research surveyed more than 600 IT, sales and marketing professionals in France, Germany and the UK, and found that sales and marketing departments are prone to "side-stepping the IT department" when it comes to adding new software and applications to existing systems.

Almost half (46 percent) of the IT staff said unused applications will not be removed from their corporate systems in case the data inside them was needed at a later date, with possible compliance issues related to their non removal being a factor for 26 percent of those questioned.

For its research Informatica commissioned Dynamic Markets to survey 300 sales and marketing managers and 301 IT professionals. Respondents who took part were at middle manager level or above, and their organisations had at least 250 employees.

Mark Seager, EMEA vice president of technology at Informatica, said: "Although almost a third of IT professionals don’t feel that there is any benefit to removing unused databases from the system, this is not the case. By cluttering up the network they’re acting as a road block and leading to wasteful spending on something that is never going to deliver any tangible business value.”

Analyst Gartner recently called for an IT maintenance "bill of rights" for customers, which included the ability to stop or alter support at any time for unused software products.