I was reading some software industry articles today and I discovered that the BSA, Business Software Alliance, is on the prowl for small businesses who’re violating licensing requirements for their software. Often this happens because a company hasn’t properly licensed all of the software they’re using or haven’t kept up with their licensing correctly. This can result in a substantial fee to settle the case and may represent a substantial part of a company’s yearly profits.
Smaller companies that can’t afford an inhouse IT department are particularly vulnerable. With the BSA cracking down, scrapping their amnesty program and paying disgruntled employees substantial sums to rat out their employers, it may be creating a business opportunity for persons skilled in network administration and licensing issues. Since I’m always on the search for new business opportunities in the IT field, I thought I’d publicly examine the potential for this idea here on OpTempo.
What Services Would Be Offered
Basically, your job would be to audit all software used on the company’s computers and find out if verifiable licenses existed for each item. It could also be used to search for unauthorized software installations and data files, such as MP3s, on employee operated systems that could expose a company to legal risks.
The primary target market for such a business would be small business owners, generally professional firms with more than 10 but less than 50 employees. Part of the job would be selling through educating these business owners about the risks of having a lackadaisical software licensing policy. Of course, those that are intentionally pirating software will probably hope that they won’t be caught and won’t want such a service. But most who run afoul of the BSA just had poor internal procedures and were ignorant of the risks.
Aside from basic IT knowledge and consulting sales skills, and yes, a professional looking web site, there are software tools that you can buy that would allow you to quickly audit systems rather than manually inspecting each system. Such software could offer a further ongoing sales opportunity for you since your customers would need to license this software as well.
What Could You Make?
Generally I see a charge of about $75/hr and up as being common for these services. Figure that an average audit would take anywhere from a day to full 40 hour week this could bring in $150K a year or more before taxes and expenses and assuming a rather full work schedule.
What would the competition be in this niche?
One of the biggest would be from whoever is currently providing computer services to the small company. Most have a consultant already under contract who may be suspicious of you, perhaps because you’ll expose them for playing fast and loose with licensing and cost them a client.
Another would be from general purpose IT consultants who might offer this as a service in a menu of services.
As for people actually competing in this specific speciality, it seems rather low based on my searches. This seems particularly true when it comes to smaller businesses.
I think that this, particularly coupled with some security audit aspects, could make a good business opportunity for a sales minded IT skilled person.
What are your thoughts on this idea? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think.