One potential flaw in this assumption is that enterprises often buy in bulk, and it could be cheaper to buy software for everyone even if not every person uses it. While the report mentions that one factor boosting the amount of unused software is that licenses "may be bundled together by the vendor," it doesn't seem to factor bulk discounts into the final amount of wasted money.
Still, it's clear a lot of money is being wasted, and the survey findings indicate that enterprises are lax in their attempts to minimize cost. Despite the high stakes, half of enterprises polled said they still use spreadsheets to record software licenses, and another quarter use paper-based filing systems or no process at all. Negotiating with vendors can help "reclaim" unused software licenses in exchange for refunds or new services, but more than three-quarters of organizations have never done so, the study found.
For businesses, there seem to be at least two solutions. Either create new manual processes to better manage software licenses, or purchase software that automates the process of identifying software license waste. (1E isn't the only vendor that sells this kind of thing; others include Flexera and HP.) If you opt for the latter, remember that buying the software isn't enough - you actually have to use it.
Read more about software in Network World's Software section.