My last blog discussed building a business case for implementing a software license enforcement system. A key component of the case should be a plan to minimize negative impact on the customer base. This article offers a handful of practices designed to help you ease your customer roll-out. While not every practice can apply to all cases and to all business, each should provide some food for thought.
Last night, the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) announced the winners of the 2012 CODiE awards – an awards program 27 years in the making dedicated to recognizing excellence in the business software, digital content, and education technology industries. I am pleased to announce that SafeNet’s software licensing and entitlement management solution for cloud services, Sentinel Cloud, was awarded the industry’s Best Digital Rights Management Solution CODiE award!
This is a multi-part blog where we’ll look at the business case around a license enforcement system from many different angles. This article will begin the discussion surrounding the initial business case for initiating a license enforcement project. Follow-on blogs will focus on measuring the return on the investment of a licensing system after implementation.
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.
I have always talked about how important it is for software vendors to include technology with their solutions to help manage their licensing policies. This can be anything from outright enforcement and anti-piracy measures to tools to measure and monitor compliance with license agreements. The great thing about putting this kind of technology in to a software solution is that it eliminates doubt, misunderstanding and audit.
Today, there is a wide array of technical solutions that allow software vendors to implement a licensing solution that removes ambiguity and allows flexibility, seemingly solving the primary issues for both the vendor and the customer in a licensing relationship. Companies like mine provide solutions that do that in pretty much every software delivery mode – i.e. online, packaged and embedded. The internet provides additional opportunities to ISVs and their customers, not only for the delivery of the license, but also now for maintaining, measuring, updating, and publishing compliance to both parties. This allows for an entirely open relationship and one that can virtually eliminate the issues faced between vendors and their customers.
Does the following story sound familiar?
“Hello, it’s Steve in Product Management.”
“Hi Steve, it’s Ian in Sales. I’m looking at the price book and there’s a different license part number for every version of the product. I see dozens of them. My customer wants to use various versions of the product across teams. Can I just put the latest version on the quote and tell them they can use the licenses with older versions too?”
“I’m not sure. You will have to ask Legal.”
“I need to get this quote out now. Why is it like this?”
“I’m not sure about that either. You’ll have to ask Operations.”
Including product versions as attributes of your license part numbers may seem like the obvious right thing to do. In many cases it works perfectly well. But before going down that path, you should think through a few factors.
Here is a term that has made it into our vocabulary a bit too much lately – “wobbly”. Suddenly everything is wobbly – our economy, stock market, jobs market. The obvious connotation is “uncertainty” but wobbly has also become a cop-out term for not knowing where something is headed. It is a sign of times we are in – or so it feels. Uncertainty in economy leads to uncertainty everywhere else.
My advice – something I try to follow rigorously at work and and personally – when you are surrounded by uncertainty, do the opposite – be decisive. This is especially true for high tech companies.
It seems that almost every small company dreams of becoming a larger one, with the self evident corollary that with size comes resources, and with resources, mountains become molehills.
Part 3 of 3 from the series “Take on Licensing: What High-Tech Manufacturers Need to Know”
Recently, I shared the five phases that high-tech manufacturers move through in the transition from hardware-based to software-based solutions. Now that we’ve reviewed the phases and the challenges, let’s discuss best practices.
In my last blog entry (Show Me The Money, Part 1) we looked at a number of factors that play into software revenue recognition when a vendor (ISV) introduces electronic license enforcement into their product lines. Part 1 focused on the principles and mechanics behind giving customers access to the software upon order execution so that the ISV may recognize revenue. Part 1 concluded by bringing another key element into the revenue recognition equation: time. Time can affect revenue recognition in a number of ways: