Many manufacturers struggle to balance global opportunities with the significant complexities that come with them. While global markets open new revenue streams, they also introduce local competitors, increase the risk of grey market abuse, extend supply chains and frequently require complex, multi-tier distribution channels that make it nearly impossible to establish direct relationships with customers. Add to this the reality that product lifecycles are increasingly under pressure to shorten and customer expectations regarding last minute configuration changes continue to grow, and you have a classic double-edged sword situation.
From a business perspective, this new reality has placed downward pressure on margins, significantly increased supply chain and operational complexity and made it increasingly difficult to keep a lid on inventory and operating costs.
While all of this is happening, the products being manufactured are also in the midst of major changes. Most devices today are connected to the internet and business requirements continue to place growing importance on the application and not just the hardware. Most manufacturers have to integrate embedded software or add-on software applications to differentiate their products and meet the business requirements of their customers.
Applications become strategic
Applications have become ubiquitous and hugely valuable yet they are among the least well optimized of all strategic assets. Applications have gone beyond task automation to running the business. Today, "mission critical" is no longer hyperbole, it is literally accurate.
Applications are a software vendor's strategic asset and are increasingly the high value-add in hardware solutions. Yet, monetizing and protecting these strategic assets is often a tactical afterthought to the development or manufacturing process. As hardware manufacturers increasingly turn to software configurations to tailor functionality and competitively differentiate their product offerings they too require standard strategic usage management solutions for their customer environments.
A strategic solution for usage management is a "must have" for embedded software solutions; companies have invested heavily in manufacturing efficiencies and advanced supply chain solutions, yet today software dictates product configuration and defines much of the competitiveness and value add for maintaining margins. The right usage management solution will ensure that you are accurately tracking who has which software licenses and have the back-office systems integration required to tie this critical information to your ordering and fulfillment processes.
Reducing manufacturing and support costs
Ensuring you have a strategic solution to manage application usage is the key to reducing manufacturing and support costs. Such a solution can:
- Reduce excess inventory and supply chain complexity by enabling configure-to-order postponement strategies
- Improve customer satisfaction by offering self service application and functionality activation while lowering support and operational costs
- Provide visibility to end customers through complex, multi-tier distribution channels—enabling more efficient support and insights into customer usage and requirements
- Streamline back-office systems and processes for software entitlement management, device lifecycle management, software delivery and updates – including field upgrades, transfers, returns, device capabilities/capacity rebalancing, device firmware/software updates, device monitoring and device analytics
Flexera Software's FlexNet Producer Suite for Intelligent Device Manufacturers is a part of a strategic solution for Application Usage Management. FlexNet Producer Suite provides embedded software licensing to unlock new revenue streams, protect intellectual property and implement configure-to-order manufacturing processes that dramatically reduce inventory while enabling greater responsiveness to changing market conditions. It also delivers back-office software entitlement management solutions to streamline fulfillment, protect maintenance revenues, implement new revenue models quickly and easily and establish direct relationships with customers through multiple tiers of distribution.
In talking to many development executives, they tell us that what is both strategic and critical to them is ensuring they build the top three features required to kill the competition. They view usage management capabilities to monetize and protect their intellectual property as critical, but not strategic. They also say that they have fewer resources today than in the past so they must put them on things that are both strategic and critical and buy solutions for those capabilities that are critical but not strategic. As a result, they have turned to Flexera Software to provide them solutions to manage application usage.