Are you hoarding software? Do you even know?

Techopedia calls shelfware “software that has been purchased but never used.” While shelfware could be a piece of discounted software you purchased as an impulse buy, it could also be legacy applications that you’ve simply outgrown because your organization’s needs or technology have changed.

Shelfware can be found collecting dust in both corporations and private homes. But how much of this superfluous software is a security risk to your organization? And how much corporate money is wasted on shelfware? Finally, how can organizations cut back on the waste?

Shelfware makes a good coaster

At one time or another, we’ve all splurged on a software product that ends up as shelfware. Shelfware happens for all kinds of reasons:

  • Overaggressive buying can lead to non-deployment of software resources.
  • Companies may test software models as part of a proof of concept (POC) that isn’t deployed.
  • As part of the POC process, IT teams and product managers may realize they don’t have the internal or external resources necessary for deployment.
  • Silos can cause shelfware — when departments fail to communicate around an overarching software strategy, shelfware happens.
  • Inadequate vendor support can kill user adoption.

Every company has some level of shelfware. But get ready for a shock: A 2016 CIO article says U.S. organizations waste about $7.5 billion on unused digital products per year.

Avoiding shelfware

Making better purchase and use decisions means evaluating software needs across the organization and by department. While “as-a-service” models help take some of the burden off of IT teams, unused software licenses also result in a lot of waste. One study suggested on average 10% of all software purchased is slated to become shelfware.

Understanding the value and use cases of the software products you purchase is imperative to helping prevent a build-up of shelfware. Another tip for cutting waste is to establish a periodic administrative audit of software licensure. Finally, simply ensuring that employees fully buy in to the latest software deployment will help ensure end-user adoption.

CIO suggests there is a growing cybersecurity concern associated with shelfware. When companies purchase security software in a given year to fulfill a corporate requirement or goal, but then fail to get funding for deployment the following year, the overall cybersecurity initiative fails. The problem compounds because most corporate IT departments lack the time and expertise to properly install and manage cybersecurity software. To avoid creating security risks with unused software, assess two things before buying: Do you have not only the capability to install the software but also the oversight to use it?

Is shelfware about a skills gap?

The level of skills gap between the expertise in our server rooms and our strategic deployment and management of software has an impact on shelfware. Simply put, we have more shelfware because some organizations struggle to find the IT expertise to make the necessary strategic decisions affecting cost centers and overarching organizational goals. Taking the time to ask the right questions about software deployment — while still managing our current digital architectures, cybersecurity, and even simply keeping the lights on — certainly outpaces our ability to achieve these goals.

These challenges introduce real risk to your organization, as well as result in higher operational costs. This is precisely why many companies use a third-party managed services firm. It’s highest and best-use staffing: MSPs can handle the myriad operational tasks for a stretched-thin IT team, which allows the in-house tech team to monitor software and use it more effectively.

Shelfware is a waste of resources at a time when every dollar means a potential competitive advantage. SecureNation is committed to helping you improve efficiencies, cut costs, and mitigate cybersecurity threats. Talk to us about an operational assessment to identify shelfware and improve your corporate IT strategies.

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