UK businesses are struggling with software asset management, according to a new survey from analyst group IDC.

The majority of UK businesses surveyed by IDC recognised that poor management of software can expose them to risks including viruses (61 per cent), corruption of data (60 per cent), Trojan horses (58 per cent), external hacking (55 per cent), and employee sabotage (51 per cent).

However, only nine per cent of the 601 UK executives of software buyers surveyed said software compliance was the responsibility of a board member. Some 16 per cent said the CIO was responsible, but almost two-thirds (63 per cent) said responsibility lay further down the food chain with the IT or a line-of-business manager.

The research was commissioned by FAST IiS, which polices software licensing and piracy for a range of major vendors.

While 75 per cent of companies said they had a software asset management policy in place, some 38 per cent of them admitted that they had only a basic understanding of their software licences.

This lack of transparency can leave businesses open to the threat of the legal and financial consequences of under and over licensing. This is clearly not a good situation to be in under any circumstances, but especially not in the tough economic climate we are currently experiencing.

Fred Broussard, Research Director at IDC, said he benefits of proper software asset management “include reduced commercial risk, reduced operational risk, increasing the speed and reducing the cost of conducting an audit to demonstrate compliance as well as ensuring that IT systems are stable, secure and available.”

Commenting on the survey John Lovelock, Chief Executive of FAST IiS, used a carrot and stick approach: “There is a difference between illegal supply of software or counterfeit goods, which is essentially deliberately defrauding the software publishers, and poor organisational discipline and management practices that lead to under - or even over – licensing, but the impact upon the software industry is still a significant loss in revenues.”

Business leaders cannot afford to be complacent about compliance and risk to their businesses. They (need to be) able to demonstrate good governance and transparency in terms of compliance. The research points to critical weaknesses that leave their organisations with material risk.”

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