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More than half of the companies out there that deliver B2B software have some sort of electronic license management embedded in their products. The lion’s share of this market belongs to home grown technologies, an unsurprising fact considering that the one thing software companies do is create software. The pros and cons of build versus buy have been well documented, and isn’t the topic of this article. What mystifies me is the glaring lack of metrics when it comes to this highly pervasive and extremely important issue.
At a recent conference our CEO asked: “What’s the average price of software?”
An interesting question. I started thinking about the mix of consumer vs enterprise, the uptake of subscription based and usage based pricing, and a host of other factors that left me spinning to the point I concocted a number way off the mark. I’ll preserve a little dignity and not share my answer, but ask that for a moment that you ponder the same.
I suppose the title of this article may provide a clue. So do you have your guess?
In large scale software deployments, it is common for organizations to solicit the expertise of a professional services team to ensure a successful rollout. However, this happens less frequently in the case of software licensing projects. This is due in large part to the fact that expertise in all aspects of software licensing is not easily found. Unlike ERP deployments, when it comes to software licensing, requirements can vary dramatically from organization to organization.
When you decide to manage your organization’s software licensing and entitlements with the aid of technology, you quickly realize just how many non-technology factors need to be considered. You really don’t necessarily require technology to manage licensing or entitlements. In fact, several organizations manage these via audits and manual updates to internal systems. Manually tracking entitlements and licensing is an approach with its own set of shortcomings, the most notable being the inability to exact any measure of control or perform any kind of true audit. Organizations generally tend to favor software overuse, except when it comes to specialized software where enforcement and restrictions are commonplace and expected.
Rarely does an IT system work better in a silo, so a dialogue about the benefits of interoperability seems as redundant as making the case for world peace. Interoperability is a widely used, and often abused, term, but for those that deal with it at a practical level, with poorly integrated systems, it can be somewhat of a holy grail. This is particularly true for electronic license and entitlement management systems.
Electronic licenses and entitlements are unique in that they require coordination between IT, Operations, Product Management and Engineering. They must be integrated into the fabric of a software company’s products, and work seamlessly with order processing and fulfillment systems.