Much of the focus in the software world is on building the applications. However, the software delivery experience for users across the world is the first impression and an important moment. Smooth downloads leave a good impression. Problem downloads leave a poor impression, even before the product is used.
Beyond the first impression, it’s also an important revenue protection moment. Only customers with current licenses should be allowed to download software and updates. Accurate tracking of who is entitled to software is a core component of electronic software distribution.
By taking a closer look at how to meet global customer expectations and protect revenue when delivering software, organizations can simplify software distribution and achieve 2 key goals:
- Make downloads easy and fast for users around the world
- Increase the accuracy of entitlements to protect revenue
The powerful sophistication of today’s electronic software delivery solutions has increased their popularity as a means to achieve these goals. This white paper will review what’s behind that growth, including typical problems, how a world-class electronic software delivery solution solves these challenges, and key considerations to get started.
Typical Software Distribution Problems
Your download process breaks down on the last day of the quarter. A “flash crowd” jumps all over your hot new release, your network can’t support the volume, and the complaints start flying in. No one wants these scenarios, but they are highly possible with complex software distribution. Difficulties can include:
Problem #1: Performance
Customers want to hit the download button and smoothly access software on their computer. Or better still, they want the updates to be downloaded and applied behind the scenes in a manner similar to a Windows PC. The challenge: the software entitlement and download process has many variables that can impact performance, including file size, # of people downloading, back-office capacity, the optimal Internet path, and more. Planning for those variables so that there is a dependable download experience is a significant challenge.
Problem #2: Scalability
When a hot release comes out, peaks of demand can occur when download traffic swamps the available bandwidth and results in unhappy calls to support. For minor releases, it can be a completely different scenario of not needing all the bandwidth. Companies have to prepare for both the “flash” crowds as well lower volume situations. It requires an investment in sufficient bandwidth and equipment capacity for the volume peaks and the potential for equipment to sit idle during low volume times.
Problem #3: Poor Control, Poor User Experience
With everything involved in a software download, the risk of a poor user experience is high, especially if access is not tied to entitlements. If the user is presented with a long list of downloadable files, several bad things can happen:
- The user becomes confused and doesn’t know which files are needed
- Worse still, the client downloads software not entitled to and gets access to functionality not paid for
- Since maintenance agreements and dates can vary, this also extends to upgrades, maintenance updates, and patches
The result: frustration and calls to the support team, caused by a lack of entitlement control and none of the outcomes above are good for the software vendor.
Problem #4: Getting to the User Fast
When security risks hit, it’s important to get users to pay attention and the application producer to provide updates fast. Another example would be delivering software updates to a medical device. FDA regulations require the vendor to maintain an up-to-date record of the version status of every machine in the field so that updates can be delivered rapidly and accurately. The challenge—physical media delivery or homegrown software distribution solutions don’t offer the sophistication to help companies communicate with only the affected users or devices or even offer “in-application updates” to quickly resolve issues without user action.
Problem #5: High Expense
Whether you have an internally built software delivery system or provide physical delivery, the expense can be significant.
Physical delivery, duplication, packaging, and mailing require a significant ongoing investment that can most often be reduced considerably by moving to electronic delivery.
However, if a company has chosen to create its own electronic solution, expenses can add up:
- The initial expense of building the system
- Ongoing application development as business and compliance requirements change (a solution that does not keep pace becomes an impediment)
- Capacity for the peaks and valleys of download demand (the reality: much of that will be unused)
Problem #6: Reliability and Disruption to Revenue Recognition
Remember the days when failure to get a software shipment on the FedEx truck at 9pm on the last day of the quarter meant foregoing that revenue? An unreliable electronic software delivery solution also represents a major revenue risk. When dealing with high-value enterprise software, all it takes is for one or two notification emails to be missed or a file not to be posted and millions of dollars of revenue may have to be backed out of your financial statement. The implications of this can extend well beyond an unhappy customer.
Problem #7: Export Compliance
The failure to observe and check for export restrictions can result in fines or imprisonment. Most companies have processes in place to carry out export compliance checks upstream when the original order is being processed. However, downloads may take place months or even years later. A lot can happen in the intervening period. A company or individual may have been placed on the Denied Parties List or a previously friendly country may now be subject to embargo. Either can pose compliance risks without an automated export compliance check just before a download.
While not always apparent, these 7 problems impact a wide range of issues, including user experience, operational efficiency, financial accountability, and more. To solve these issues, many companies are choosing to use powerful electronic software delivery solutions.
How a World Class Electronic Software Delivery Solution Simplifies and Solves These Problems
Today’s electronic software delivery solutions provide two important global benefits:
- Reliable, cost effective software delivery: the Internet becomes a world-class, dependable distribution network
- Revenue protection through accurate entitlement and license management
World class electronic delivery systems accomplish this through cloud technology, a scalable architecture, entitlement-based access control, and leverage of the Internet infrastructure. When combined with security, stability, and reliability, the result is accurate and smooth software delivery … globally.
Predictable and Scalable Across the World
A world class electronic software delivery solution turns a highly variable, unpredictable process into a process that anticipates and adapts to change. Cloud-based solutions offer the capacity to address on-demand scalability; the system smoothly adapts to large file sizes and rush times or smaller, low volume releases. This flexibility reduces the planning time to accommodate different scenarios, minimizes equipment purchases, and adds a level of predictability that would be difficult to accomplish with an internally built solution.
Cloud-based solutions also evolve on a continual basis to meet their customers’ changing business models. New features are introduced on a regular schedule, removing the need for continual updates to an in-house solution. In addition to flexibility and predictability, companies gain insight into release progress. Electronic software delivery solutions enable central monitoring of activity, including # of completed downloads, location of the customer (worldwide), which files downloaded, what IP address, how long it took, and more.
Entitlement Safeguards, Powerful Control
World-class electronic software delivery solutions protect maintenance and subscription revenues through automated license and entitlement management. This automation allows only customers current on maintenance or subscriptions to download software and updates.