CIOs unaware of application usage

CIOs grossly underestimate the proportion of installed applications that are not being used in their organisations

CIOs grossly underestimate the proportion of installed applications that are not being used in their organisations, a new study has found.

A survey of 100 UK-based IT directors and CIOs conducted by Vanson Bourne for Centrix Software found that on average CIOs think that just over one quarter (27%) of application instances are not used.

Just 2% of the CIOs asked thought more than half of their company’s application instances are not being used.

The survey found 59% believed that less than one third (30%) of their company’s application instances are not used (see table below).

The survey found that nearly three quarters of those asked (71%) had some sort of IT asset management (ITAM) or license management in place for managing and understanding their end user app usage; 63% look at statistics from service/support desks and 52% utilise systems management tools.

Yet, according to Centrix, while a high proportion of the CIOs and IT directors surveyed have IT asset management or software licensing tools in place for managing their end-user application portfolio, they still struggle to know what’s really happening across their desktop estates.

Unused applications

Proportion of applications unused Percentage of CIOs
0%-10% 9%
10%-20% 17%
20%-30% 33%
30%-40% 25%
40%-50% 11%
50%-70% 1%
60%-70% 1%
70%-80% 0%
80%-90% 0%
90%-100% 0%
Don’t know 3%

Lisa Hammond, CEO, Centrix Software claimed that usage data gathered by the company’s WorkSpace iQ and WorkSpace Management tools over the last three years, based on 3 million users, shows that over 75% of applications are unused.

In a presentation to IT decision makers in London, she said £400 per desktop per year could be saved if IT departments tracked software usage closely.

She said companies could save on average 25% on Microsoft licensing by unbundling. For instance rather than buy the £15 per user per month Office 365 E3 bundle, a user can select one of the less comprehensive but cheaper SaaS packages.

One of Centrix’s reference customers, pharmaceutical giant, AstraZeneca, used WorkSpace iQ to discover almost 4,000 installed applications, of which only 30 were being used.

Cutting the number of desktop applications reduces both cost and complexity. This will become increasingly important over the next six years as IT departments change their desktop strategy to support greater use of mobile devices and BYOD. Lionel Lamy, associate vice-president at analyst IDC, who also spoke at the event, said: "The CIO role is moving to give users more freedom."

IDC defines three distinct phases in desktop IT relating to the trend in supporting a diverse desktop and mobile IT infrastructure. The first phase, concerns cost efficiency, due to the high costs associated with running large desktop computing estates. Simplifying desktop applications can tackle costs and prepare IT for IDC’s second phase, where the IT department becomes a service centre. The final phase in IDC’s transformation of desktop IT occurs when IT becomes an innovation centre for value creation, Lamy said.

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