My friend, colleague on WG21, and all round gentleman John Tomeny posted something on Facebook yesterday which got me to thinking. He suggested that this news article was going to generate a lot of attention: here.
I wonder… Is it? Well, obviously John and I are both “talking” about it – so there is some attention, but we’re in the Software Licensing game… it’s very relevant to our professional lives. Is it relevant to Forever 21 or their average customer?
When speaking to IT Asset Managers and Software Asset Managers over the past 10 years, they often describe “Reputational Damage” as a risk they want to use SAM tools and processes to mitigate. If they really feel and believe that, then that’s good enough for me. I do wonder however if anyone outside of ITAM/SAM is scandalized by articles like the one above.
For example, this article from several years ago debates how Forever 21 keeps on stealing the intellectual property of designers and getting away with it: https://jezebel.com/5822762/how-forever-21-keeps-getting-away-with-designer-knockoffs . Isn’t that a worse slur on their name? That article probably did more good for Forever 21 than harm.
I asked my wife if she thought the piece on stealing Adobe software licenses would impact on Forever 21’s customer base negatively – if they would see it as reputational damage. She responded that if they ever heard of the case they would only worry if they thought it would increase the cost of the clothing Forever 21 produces…
From a company perspective, their concern is likely to be unbudgeted costs – the CEO and board may feel some embarrassment that they are being shown NOT to “run a tight ship” – reputational damage won’t be high on the agenda.
How real is the mitigation of reputational damage as a driver for SAM activities? I know nothing of the specifics of Forever 21 beyond the articles listed – but let’s take a generic “Company X”. Does anyone outside of their ITAM department (assuming they have one) worry about reputational damage? I posit that they do not. Why then does our fictional SAM or ITAM Manager in Company X worry about reputational damage following audit by a software vendor? I posit that their concern is actually that whatever costs result from the audit and lawsuit are evidence of their failing to do their job well. Their personal reputation and job security are on the line. Their concern isn’t the impact of reputational damage on the company, it’s purely personal.
Am I being cynical here? Please – share your thoughts (and feel free to do so anonymously in the comments below, or via an email to [email protected]).