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Trimble Navigates to Success Leveraging Next Gen Licensing and Entitlement Management

January 26, 2016

Whether you know it or not, GPS technology pioneer Trimble has been an integral part of your personal and professional life for several years. Regardless of where it sits in various solutions and ecosystems, all of our reliance on the company’s hardware and increasingly software-based solutions is likely to increase as we move faster and faster into an Internet of Things (IoT) that is software-centric in all aspects. In fact, as Trimble (News - Alert) says, “Trimble integrates a wide range of positioning technologies including GPS, laser, optical and inertial technologies with application software, wireless communications, and services to provide complete commercial solutions. Its integrated solutions allow customers to collect, manage and analyze complex information faster and easier, making them more productive, efficient and profitable.”


As context, Trimble products are used in over 150 countries and have a portfolio of over 1,000 patents. In short, there is a lot of software to license, monitor and manage, and intellectual property (IP) to protect. 

At Gemalto’s recent LicensingLive! 2015 event, Bill Graber, the director of marketing at Trimble, provided attendees with a fascinating guided tour of how, when and why Trimble turned to Gemalto’s (News - Alert) Sentinel Solutions to take the complexity out of the challenges the company was confronting in terms of software licensing and entitlement management. 

He also blogged about his transformational journey. It is one that anyone with software monetization responsibilities is sure to relate to. 

Graber explains that, “Trimble’s philosophy is partnering with specialists in different fields and leveraging our combined strengths.”  He cites the movie Dirty Harry about knowing limitations. He adds, “When it comes to our software licensing and entitlement management needs, we have the good sense to defer to Gemalto’s expertise.”

Leaving software licensing and entitlement to the experts

After describing the number of licensing systems for all of the company’s software applications and the code it delivers on a massive scale for massive products, processes and services, Graber admitted, “Our current license management system has grown too complex for our current date base vendor, demanding a more sophisticated solution – hence our decision to move over to Sentinel.”

The reasons for the switch are becoming common as the value-chain of how business software is created, protected, delivered, accessed, monitored, consumed, packaged, priced, renewed and upgraded is being transformed in an almost revolutionary manner. It is part of the big trend that is affecting almost every product and service—particularly in the hardware fields, because differentiated and sustainable value is now in the software and increasingly in the information it generates. We are also witnessing a move to products delivered from various types of cloud computing platforms under a variety of new business models such as those that are subscription- and usage-based.  

Trimble moved to Sentinel LDK because it:

  • Helped in the provisioning of licenses for software delivered on-premise and via other means of connectivity.
  • Offered standalone license ordering and auto-licensing options.
  • Is simple enough for machine operators to obtain the production data they require.
  • Is architected to be agile and adaptable for what comes next.

After citing the challenges facing hardware manufacturers when it comes to delivering licenses on large-scale machines, he noted something that IoT players are going to have to think about regarding machines in hostile environments where the challenge “becomes less about convenience and more about survival.”  In fact, as Graber says with so much of machine operation software-centric, the business case, for example using over-the-air (OTA) installation to save on delivering operational codes manually, is compelling. The numbers cited certainly validate why.

Operational efficiencies from back office automation

As Graber stated in referring to Trimble’s reliance on Gemalto, the company also uses the Sentinel EMS (Entitlement Management System), and again as the means for producing impressive productivity gains while reducing complexity.  He notes that Trimble is running 20 to 30 different licensing systems, each with multiple iterations. The introduction of Sentinel EMS to Trimble’s back office put entitlement management under centralized control yielding substantial benefits. These included not just greater visibility of all licensing activities but also the automation of Trimble’s proactive marketing and sales operations lifecycle, ensuring greater accuracy and reduced costs.

A big factor is also what happens when new companies are acquired. Trimble has experience with the pain points of such acquisition transitions having acquired around 200 software companies in the past 15 years.  And as Graber says, “We find it better to integrate the new systems into Sentinel EMS first and worry about ERP integration later.”

While the old saying “the bottom line is the bottom line” tends to be greatly over-used, this is an instance where the numbers prove the point.  Trimble, thanks to Sentinel LDK and EMS, is enjoying the operational efficiencies and effectiveness that translates into differentiated value to customers. Without going through the entire list this includes such benefits as real-time license delivery, better visibility and control over all aspects of the licensing and entitlement management lifecycle, enhanced IP protection, and happier partners and customers. 

A good place to close is how Graber does: “If you’ve ever tried to build a homegrown licensing system, you’ll know just how difficult a task it can be. Taking software licensing into your own (inexperienced) hands, as opposed to leaving it to the professionals, can be a risky move. Now that our subscription management platform supports close to half a million assets, the time is ripe for us to migrate to a structured, best-of-breed licensing solution, and Sentinel is the obvious choice.”

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