IT chiefs are struggling with the complexity of software licensing contracts, and they see little evidence of suppliers becoming more accommodating, or licences offering better value than three years ago.
The findings, from Computer Weekly’s quarterly CIO Index survey of top UK IT management, show that software licensing is creating new headaches for IT chiefs as they look to make savings and reduce complexity across the enterprise.
More than 50% of IT directors said they were spending more management time on software licence issues than this time last year. Sixty six per cent said suppliers were becoming less accommodating to user needs, and 59% said value for money had not improved since 2003.
IT directors contacted by Computer Weekly said they wanted suppliers to take steps to rationalise their software licensing contracts and improve their transparency.
Many said the proliferation of licensing models raised the potential for getting more suitable arrangements but, in practice, it made it more difficult to compare like with like and ensure value for money. There was also disquiet that licensing complexity was being used to squeeze existing customers.
David Morris, head of IT at international property consultancy King Sturge, said more products and more complex licence arrangements were making it increasingly difficult for IT chiefs to maintain the correct licensing position.
Michael Pincher, IT director at Crossrail, went further, saying, “Suppliers see organisations that use their software as cash cows.”
Licensing consultant Bill Monk said the concerns were justified. “The rules from the major software suppliers are getting more complicated. For big firms, it is reaching the point where they need a Microsoft specialist and an Oracle specialist just to say, ‘this is what we are licensed for’ with some authority.”
Nick Kalisperas, director for markets at IT suppliers body Intellect, said CIOs should address their specific concerns directly to suppliers. “When licensing concerns arise, we encourage active and open dialogue between the customer and the supplier. As an industry, we are always open to customers raising any concerns they have and working constructively with them,” he said.
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