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Creating Great Software Licensing Experiences One Portal at a Time

April 20, 2015




Here are two interesting questions for salespeople and operations:

  1. Wouldn’t it be great to improve the operational delivery and servicing of software while making it a great user experience?
  2. How can you optimize resources and the costs associated with processing licenses by off-loading the delivery with a well-designed licensing portal for customer self-service?

The simple way to get these answers is to turn to the experts. 

A few months back, I attended a packed room presentation at a LicensingLive! Event, where  Gemalto (News - Alert)/SafeNet’s professional services and consulting team along with their partner, Stellar Digital Design Agency told of their project to help HP rethink their licensing operations and deploy a new licensing  portal enabling  customer self-service. I remained intrigued and scheduled an interview to discuss the topic with them further as there are few hotter topics today than deploying compelling self-service applications for customer interactions. 

Martin Pedersen, Managing Director at Stellar Digital Design Agency, and Dave DiMillo, Principal Consultant at Gemalto/SafeNet (News - Alert), recently met with me to walk me through their experience with the joint project to deploy a licensing portal for HP.

DiMillo went right to the point, “Historically what our customers have done is to look at the system and then design a user experience around it. However, in order to create a great customer experience we flip the perspective around and work from the user inward towards the system. This involves truly setting aside the back-office functions and starting with the user by asking what the user should see when they log in.  After the key elements of the user perspective has been established, the challenge then becomes hooking up the plumbing to make it happen.”

DiMillo says that the need for a licensing portal is beneficial to any company no matter what stage of growth they are in—the need for operational efficiency and cost reduction applies to everyone.  But in this case we are talking about a big deployment-HP big! The requirement was to provide HP with a way to deliver licensing for 70,000 products and 3,500,000 entitlements, easy, fast, and all the while improving customer satisfaction. 

HP’s main objective was to create a customer self-service portal that was easy to use and was well-designed without exposing the inherent complexities of the back-office.   HP’s other objective was to reduce the number one cost to their licensing operations-head count.

Ultimately, HP wanted to provide a well-designed self-service portal that would increase customer satisfaction by creating a unique HP experience and lower the TCO.  Technically this meant assuring a tight integration of the portal views with HP’s two user authentication systems and utilizing the full functionality of their Sentinel Entitlement Management System and integration with SAP (News - Alert).

The next two graphics illustrate at a high level how these objectives were met at HP, or as DiMillo put it “When discussing how we can accomplish their requirements, it’s a case of don’t’ tell me, show me!”

The first figure shows the back-office workflow and integration required.  

HP’s ultimate desire was to make the portal interface look clean and simple to a customer.  As DiMillo added, “there was also added value in the HP deployment; their Customer Care now has the ability to extract customer intelligence and process information in real time.  This is something that will help HP continue to greatly enhance the customer experience now and going forward.”

The second graphic shows the clean and simple portal interface for critical function such as a secure login session, track valuable account management information, product activation records, and license key delivery details.  

Stellar’s creative use of white space takes in to consideration the need for a great user experience which typically means a friendly and simple way to engage with the licensing portal. 

Martin Pedersen of Stellar explained that from his perspective as an online design firm, “What Sentinel EMS brings to the table is web services.  This access allows us to not be locked into a canned out of the box forced customer experience that someone else has decided makes sense, rather we are able to  create something that really can be identified as the unique HP experience.” 

He added, “In our experience, with the occasional exception, the most important thing people want is to get in, easily navigate around and find what they want to do quickly and then get out.  They also want to be confident that their information is secure. That is why we strive to design something that is customized to the requirements of the business and from the user perspective looking out.” 

One final graphic is useful as well which provides the HP view for assets, hosts, activations, rehosts, and access to a series of reports. 

In closing, DiMillo highlighted and was echoed by Pedersen that making the complex look easy is hard work.  In the past, portals of this nature took a long time to develop and deploy, but with the Gemalto/SafeNet and Stellar partnership, they have managed to make it significantly shorter. Delivering a unique user experience and not a canned template is what seems to be the key to a successful licensing self-service portal.




Edited by Dominick Sorrentino
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