Software waste tab $34 billion in US, UK, says report

Adobe applications, SAP Crystal Reports, and Microsoft Project are installed and often go unused.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

The current tally of software waste costs US companies $247 per user, or $28 billion, according to a study by 1E, which makes application management tools.

Software waste is defined as an application that is deployed to a desktop but not used. 1E's software usage and waste report is based on 149 companies, 16 industries, and 4.6 million users. 1E's report ignores license types and includes cloud subscriptions to focus on usage.

If you include UK companies with the US, the software waste total hits $34 billion. Of 35 applications tracked, 1E found the following were most prone to software waste.

  1. TechSmith Camtasia Studio (waste: 67 percent)
  2. SAP Crystal Reports (63 percent)
  3. Adobe InDesign (55 percent)
  4. Adobe Dreamweaver (55 percent)
  5. Microsoft Visio (47 percent)
  6. Adobe Illustrator (47 percent)
  7. Microsoft Project Professional (46 percent)
  8. Adobe Photoshop (42 percent)
  9. Helios TextPad (40 percent)
  10. Corel WinZip (34 percent)

Looking at that list from 1E isn't that surprising. The common thread is that companies buy more licenses or subscriptions than needed for software that's complicated and built for specialists. For instance, most folks think they may want to use Camtasia Studio for film editing and then become overwhelmed.

Adobe applications are similar. Of course, I want to be a wiz at PhotoShop and InDesign only to find out that the applications overwhelm me. As a result, I'm an Adobe Creative Cloud customer that would need training wheels and a few more hours in the day. An application like Dreamweaver is used when building sites, but that's not a daily chore for most of us. One more thought, I may subscribe to Creative Cloud for two or three applications, but I'll install more for giggles. It's like a buffet for software -- you tend to consume too much.

1E also calculated the costs of software waste for an average company with 30,000 machines. Here's that tally from 1E's report.


Another key finding is that larger companies generally have less software waste. Why? The costs justify software asset tracking.

By industry, aviation and education have the highest level of software waste at 47 percent, while the US government is the lowest with 28 percent.

Correction: Previous version had author of report as E1. The correct name is 1E.

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