Software Monetization Featured Article

Licensing Live! Makes the Case for Licensing Agility Now

October 23, 2014

I consider myself fortunate. I have the opportunity to experience in-person many of the tech industries’ major (aka “important”) and illuminating events. Interestingly, being major and being insightful and thought-provoking are by no means mutually inclusive. Indeed, you never know at what venue you will see something, hear something or meet somebody who literally provides new and valuable perspectives on the dynamic space we work in.

The just concluded SafeNet Licensing Live! 2014 event was filled with several “who knew” moments for me.  Judging by attendee reactions, it was a valuable forum for SafeNet’s (News - Alert) independent software vendor (ISV) customers and partners as well.

The reason was, after two days of listening to SafeNet executives, industry analysts, ecosystem partners, and several fascinating case studies, I came away thinking SafeNet should consider changing the event name to Licensing Now! 

What became clear is that the components of software monetization, which includes license and entitlement management, may not be a lead item in discussions between vendors and enterprise executives about the need for IT transformations but it deserves to move up the priority list. The reasons, which were a constant refrain during the various sessions, are related to some things that are obvious and some that are not but should be.       

The most obvious one is so obvious it is almost embarrassing to have to cite it. The world is becoming more and more software-centric. As I have noted in previous postings, we live in what I have called “The Age of Acceleration” where the only constants are change and the speed at which change is increasing. To accommodate and thrive rather than be destroyed by change, organizations of all sizes and geographies have come had to become more agile, more efficient, and more effective. In short, achieving high performance using communications and software to improve people, products and services, and processes is now not just a concern of “techies” but is a business imperative of the highest order. 

Indeed, no matter what industry event you attend, the common refrain you are likely to hear is, “It’s all about the data!”  Yes it is whether it is about generating it, storing it, moving it, analyzing it and then using it to create those “actionable insights” we constantly are told are critical for sustaining competitive advantage in an uncertain and increasingly fast-paced world. 

What is also obvious is that all of that software and the data it generates is somebody’s intellectual property for which they expect compensation for its use and look to deter its abuse. This is why software licenses exist, including those keys we need to activate features and functionality under specific terms and conditions, regardless of whether the software is delivered the old fashion way via physical media with a perpetual license or via electronic means on some kind of cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS (News - Alert)) business model.  It is also why those terms and conditions relating to usage, e.g. entitlements, exist.  This is not just of the protection of the software creator, but also as a critical tool for IT administrators for managing the risks associated with the pervasive use of massive amounts of software. 

The not so obvious, which is what was so compelling about the event, is the critical role (dare I say mission critical role) software licensing and entitlement management play in almost every aspect of what for lack of a better term is “business transformation”—the race to be a disruptor rather than a disrupted. 

Source (News - Alert): SafeNet Licensing Live! 2014

The embedded picture is actually a static view of a demo done by Shlomo Weiss, Sr. VP & General Manager Software Monetization, SafeNet, during his talk, “The Evolution of Software Monetization in a Connected World.” It highlighted the value of the data being literally and figuratively driven by the competing race cars and how the licensed capabilities enabled the demonstrable success of one car versus another.

Weiss’ point was aimed not only about the ingenuity of software that can create competitive advantage for ISV customers, but also to highlight the monetization opportunities for ISVs that are coming about thanks to the mega trends we all know and love: the cloud, mobility and virtualization. He noted, that what is finally coming to the enterprise—thanks to the perfect storm of tech innovation and competitive requirements— is that the way in which we as consumers use and have expectations about software and the benefits it creates for us through our devices is now table stakes for business success. In fact, the acceleration of change and its unpredictability has created a sense of urgency to change the old ways of creating, delivering, packaging, protecting and pricing software and its associated analytics. It is critical for ISVs to be more agile themselves, but it is equally as critical for their customers and their customers’ customers.         

Weiss concluded his presentation with a question “Is your software monetization ready for the cloud?”  His answer was, “Act now!” And, while SafeNet’s Sentinel product portfolio is cloud-based, he could have added a few addendums to his conclusions that were not just highlighted in his presentation but also a common theme particularly in the case studies.

The first is that SafeNet not only can manage licenses that are cloud-based but through the cloud can also manage legacy on-premises licenses.

Second, is that the flexibility SafeNet solutions give ISVs and IT professionals to move at they own pace in transitioning to the cloud.

Third, is that because of connections to popular ERP and CRM capabilities licensing is now mission critical in terms of enhancing the customer experience.

This last point about the customer experience is an important one. It touches not just on SafeNet’s ISV customers, but also on how providing ISVs with total visibility and tools for tracking and monitoring the use of their software enables them to have better engagement with their customers. This is non-trivial. Knowing who has what, on what, how it is being used or not used, when it needs to be updated, when it needs to be renewed, etc. has profound impacts. It impacts product and service development, how things are bundled and priced, feature integrations with other capabilities, and importantly takes a lot of headaches out of compliance. 

In subsequent postings over the next several weeks there will be more granularity provided regarding where analysts see things headed, what customers are demanding, and what next in terms of features and functionality from SafeNet. In the meantime, if nothing else, the case for transforming the ways in which licensing needs to go from being seen as a constraint to being a vital tool for success is compelling and now.  The race is on.   

Edited by Stefania Viscusi