Striking a chord with SMBs

New research released by the Business Software Alliance (BSA) suggests that 30% of small businesses in the UK are ‘knowingly under-licensed’. The research fails to identify the reason, but if the figures are accurate, it does suggest that SMBs are either simply not seeing the value in the commercial software they use, or fail to recognise the risks of being caught using unlicensed software (or, perhaps worse, perceive the cost of buying the software to be higher than the risk of getting caught).

Perhaps what the BSA and other licensing watchdogs need is a change of tact. Instead of (or, more realistically, perhaps as well as) publicising those organisations that end up significantly out of pocket following a software licence audit, perhaps there is an argument for those charged with protecting software licensing and intellectual property to talk in language that resonates better with SMB business owners?

Here’s a simple example. If a small courier firm had three of its vans taken off the road for not having insurance, could it still do business? Probably not; that’s why the firm accepts that van insurance is a necessary cost of doing business, even in economically tight times. But that same business may not immediately realise that its vans only go to the right places and they can only conduct their business (invoicing, payroll, scheduling etc.) because they use commercial computer software. If those applications were not available due to an audit identifying they were not licences, the impact on the business would be just as severe.

These SMEs need educating so that they stop viewing software as ancillary to their business activities, and instead realise their business relies completely on it. Failing to license properly is not an option.

What SMEs can – and should – do is minimise the cost of software and avoid over-spend. Just like they will spend time hunting for the best insurance prices, proactive management of their software licensing can deliver significant cost savings while also removing the risk of being found non-compliant.

Just as paying the van insurance, sales tax, payroll etc. is not optional – neither is paying for the commercial software used. But that doesn’t mean you should spend a penny more than you need to, or take advantage of different available licensing schemes to reap the full benefits of your entitlements. For many SMBs, the net effect of licence management can actually be positive – delivering bottom-line benefits back to the organisation.


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Ben Eagling

Ben Eagling

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