Businesses waste an average £432 on software per PC, according to a new software efficiency report.
The majority, 30 percent, of organisations estimated that the value of unused software on a typical PC was between £250 and £499, while one percent believed that the value was at least £1,000. Six percent of organisations did not have any idea of how much was being wasted.
The presence of unused software on employee PCs can be due to a number of reasons, but can often be a result of poor licence management.
For example, 16 percent of respondents did not record software licences in their organisation at all, while of the ones that did, 47 percent use spreadsheets, and six percent still used a paper-based filing system.
However, the management of licences can be made even more complex due to bundled licence and maintenance deals, multiple versions of software, and virtualisation.
A total 251 UK professionals responsible for managing software licences, in companies with more than 500 employees, were surveyed online for The Software Efficiency Report 2011. The report by researchers Opinion Matters was commissioned by PC power management software provider 1E, The Federation Against Software Theft and Investors in Software (FAST IiS) and the International Association of Information Technology Asset Managers (IAITAM).
Geoff Collins, product manager at 1E, said that one of the most surprising findings of the research was that so few organisations recovered costs by reclaiming money from unused licences.
"It's such an easy thing to achieve if they have got the right tools," he said. "It's very difficult to step back and get a 30,000ft view of what your estate looks like. People seem to go out and buy more [licences] instead of reallocating them."
A quarter of firms said they had not ever considered reclaiming unused software licences, and only eight percent of businesses regularly reclaimed unused software licences.
Although 52 percent said they had considered actively uninstalling and redeploying licences, they blamed risk, user objection and a lack of tools for not being able to do so.
"It's such an easy thing to achieve if they have got the right tools," Collins said. "It's very difficult to step back and get a 30,000ft view of what your estate looks like. People seem to go out and buy more [licences] instead of reallocating them."
Collins said that this was a significant problem among IT asset managers, under pressure from software vendor audits.
"Many think their job is about licence compliance and they just go out and buy more."
Meanwhile, a massive 92 percent of respondents admitted to having shelfware - bought software that is left to sit on the shelf. The report estimates that this alone costs each organisation £107 per PC a year in purchase and maintenance costs.
The report said that the challenge with shelfware is that it can be hard to find, as traditional systems management tools only detect installed software.
"IT management teams need to learn how to hunt down and eliminate shelfware, in order to free up budget for more important activities," according to the report.