A few weeks ago I tried to download a trial version of a software package from a pretty well known ISV’s website. It wasn’t a huge file and should have been a relatively quick download. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. After numerous attempts and spending a frustrating hour trying to download the trial, I decided to forgo the whole thing.
I’m not the first or the last person that has had this type of experience. Yet, it continues to surprise me at how little thought it seems some ISV’s put into their Electronic Software Delivery (ESD) solution. The software download process is part of the customer experience and should be treated as such by the ISV. A good experience could be the first step in a long lasting customer relationship; a bad experience may turn away the customer completely.
Let me start of by apologizing to both Apple enthusiasts, and those on the other end of the spectrum who expected this to be an discussion about the much debated iPad. It is not. While passions run high about iPad’s place in today’s market one thing is clear. Whether its time is now later is a moot point. What it does is shine yet another spotlight on the changing face of technology. The iPad builds on momentum created by the iPhone that is dramatically effecting how we consume technology.
So what does all this have to do with licensing. The new workforce is comprised of a generation that cannot live within the strict boundaries traditionally defined by IT. They also see the unprecedented access afforded by applications like iTunes as something expected, rather than their predecessors, that still struggle with the piracy implications. They expect their software to be consumed in the manner most convenient to them, be it the home laptop, iPhone or iPad. Ask yourself how often you’ve wanted to access your favorite on-line service and just assumed that there must be “an app for that”. I have iPhone apps for most of the web applications for which I used to use my laptop (hurry up United, you’re lagging).
I don’t know if they teach this in every MBA program, but I am sure you have heard that every business case can be boiled down to a certain number of “P”s. It is just a question of how many…some have 4 P’s, some have 5; but in this world of Twitter and brevity, I am going to go with the three that matter most when you think about creating licensing approaches for software: Piracy, Portability, and Profitability.
Most people in the US subscribe to bundles of TV content that is packaged through a 3rd party. There might be 3 or 4 tiers to an offer. A while ago, those people that packaged TV content for you also started to offer on demand services (or pay-per-view). Over the last few years – the ratio of the on demand to the all-you-can eat model has started to shift. Increasingly people use Netflix, Hulu, and iTunes to consume only the shows they want to watch (and usually ad-free too!). Read how an estimated 800,000 US households abandoned their TVs for the web.
The math is pretty simple. Most people are lucky if they spend less than $700 a year for cable. If you could buy only the shows you want to watch at $8.99 with Netflix ($110/year) and 15 must see shows at $40/season – $600. Together that adds up to about the same you might pay for an entry level subscription. If you watch more than that, go with your monthly plan. For a lot of people – the ability to just consume what they want is compelling and driving a big move towards pay-per-view. The internet and the iPad are also changing how you can get and watch content.
A great software licensing system combines automation of enforcement in the product with integration in to back office CRM, ERP, marketing and fulfillment operations.
Sentinel EMS from SafeNet provides the operational interface for licensing, and while it comes with a great web based user interface, it also comes with a whole host of web-services built in. The best way to automate the process from sale through the license lifecycle of the customer is to “wire” in the EMS system in to the different applications that run your business.
Customer experience, revenue protection, and resource optimization is top of mind for all organizations, including software vendors. SafeNet and Akamai have teamed up to provide software vendors with a user-friendly, secure solution for automating electronic software delivery (ESD).
By combining the back office licensing fulfillment and automation features of Sentinel EMS, SafeNet’s web based entitlement management platform, with Akamai’s industry-leading Electronic Software Delivery (ESD) solution, customers are able to improve the end-user software purchasing and activation experience while protecting revenue and reducing internal operating costs.