Software Monetization Featured Article

Sentinel EMS Delivers Enhanced Customer Experience and Satisfaction for HP

December 18, 2015

Dealing with large technology vendors often means dealing with thousands of SKUs and myriad software licenses in need of entitlement. As I’m sure you’re painfully aware, getting up and running under these circumstances can be a confusing and complex process. But you’re not alone in your frustration: large tech companies are faced with their own set of user experience and customer satisfaction challenges.

This is not only reflected in wasted productivity, e.g., customers contacting service centers when self-service would have sufficed, but also in lower customer satisfaction ratings, and ultimately, the company’s bottom line. Given that customer experience is a top priority for the end user, it is increasingly seen as a vital differentiated value proposition.

So what are these large tech companies doing to ease their and their customers’ pain when it comes to licensing operations? One example that comes to mind is the HP Enterprise Group (HPE). Despite its reliance on a commercial software licensing technology, HPE found that it was experiencing numerous product licensing-related challenges:

  1. The HPE customer-facing web portal was getting less-than-stellar reviews from customers.
  2. Back-office elements, such as complex business use cases, multiple disparate license generators, and back-end systems were unable to share information. Not only did this create process bottlenecks, but it made visibility and management of entitlements problematic.

HPE realized that it was time for a change. In order to resolve both issues, it decided to implement a simplified, more flexible entitlement management system. This enabled the company to manage its disparate license generators and product activations via a user-friendly, HPE-centric customer web portal interface. HPE assembled a cross-functional project team that included a Solutions Architect, Enterprise Licensing Manager, and a member of Operations Management, who reported to the CIO. The team’s goal? Identify and evaluate entitlement management solutions.

Evaluation and deployment

In tackling both customer-facing and back-office challenges, the team went through a rigorous vendor evaluation process. It developed a set of solution requirements that included:

  • Transitioning the licensing back office – A new entitlement management system would have to be powerful enough to support roughly 50 license generators of varying proprietary and commercial technologies, and have the ability to manage upwards of 70,000 products and 3.5 million entitlements.
  • Simplifying and improving the customer experience – The customer web portal for HP product activation required simplification. Any solution would need to hide the inherent complexities of disparate license generators and a huge product catalog. In addition, the solution would need to make the actual process of activating a product more intuitive and contain far fewer steps. HPE needed its enterprise customers to be able to get in, quickly register and activate their product, and get out. The portal would, of course, need to conform to the established look and feel of the HPE brand.

Solution and implementation

The HPE team considered entitlement management systems from three vendors – Flexera, Gemalto (News - Alert), as well as its current vendor, ModusLink.

HPE reached out to Gemalto consultants to help determine its software monetization requirements, namely licensing and entitlement management. According to HPE’s David Wright, “Gemalto really understands the licensing process. We quickly discovered that it has the right technology to handle our complex requirements and the ability to implement within the specified timeframe. We also realized that its entitlement management system, Sentinel EMS, is just one part of the equation – Gemalto offers professional services as well”. Taking all this into account, Wright concludes, “Gemalto is the right partner for us”.

Case in point, HP took advantage of the full spectrum of services offered by the Gemalto Sentinel Professional Services team. These included a project kickoff workshop, project management, architectural design, technical design, custom Sentinel EMS development and QA, web portal design and development, back-office integration services, and go-live support.

The proof is in the results

Sentinel EMS licensing is now fully integrated with HP’s back office. Thanks to its integration with GLiS, a proprietary HP middleware system between SAP (News - Alert) and Sentinel EMS, the system supports approximately 50 different licensing enforcement technologies. “What we like about Sentinel EMS,” explains Wright, “is the web service architecture that supports the desired customer experience”.

HPE customers can now activate their licenses using a custom web portal developed by Gemalto. This web portal was designed, developed, and then integrated with two user authentication services for single sign-on (for internal and external users), and with Sentinel EMS, which maintains the company’s catalog of over 70,000 products and more than 3.5 million entitlements.

It was critical that the customer portal hide the activation complexities inherent in HPE’s expansive product catalog, disparate license generators, and millions of entitlements, in order to provide an effortless customer experience. The Gemalto team and Sentinel EMS made that possible.

Since HPE launched the custom web portal, its customers have noted a significantly easier licensing experience – a primary goal of the Sentinel EMS implementation.

The entire project took just nine months from kickoff to go live. Gemalto assembled a cross-functional team to work seamlessly alongside the HPE project team.

The results? A greatly enhanced user experience, better management and control of the entire entitlement management process, reduced costs resulting from a significant reduction in support calls, and better visibility and integrations with multiple  systems and processes. Best of all, there was a measurable improvement in workflow efficiencies and customer satisfaction.

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere