An argument against license enforcement

7 12 2009

This may seem weird as I’ve been talking about pricing and license metric development.  However, we have not yet talked about enforcement. 

To software companies, license enforcement protects the bottom line.  It prevents rampant, “entrepreneurial” software distribution throughout their customer base.  Keep in mind that this discussion isn’t a one-size-fits-all scenario.  A major enterprise software provider may choose to enforce a license differently than a single-user shrink-wrapped software provider.

To customers, software licensing is a way of steering clear of the legal issues surrounding "viral license expansion” that can happen as co-workers share their productivity practices. 

It’s simply risk avoidance – policy triumphing over value to the organization.  IT departments go through elaborate means to “control the desktop environment” of their employees both for ease of management and for license enforcement.

Viral license expansion for fun and profit

If we take away the legal and negative revenue implications of letting a software package roam free-range style throughout an organization, the result of getting more eyeballs on your product can be compelling to both parties.  This is especially true if your software has an entrenched user base in one specialized area of a company, but could bring significant value to other areas of your customer base.

Read the rest of this entry »





Pricing metrics and the customers that suboptimize them

6 08 2009

There are many truths in life.  If it didn’t sound so geeky and pessimistic, I would add to the list “customers will always suboptimize your product based on your metrics.”  It’s not very catchy.

I previously wrote about points to consider when choosing your metrics.  It was by no means exhaustive, but it did have a “salesy focus”.  That’s because your sales people play a vital role in your pricing and licensing scheme both before it is rolled out and when their boots hit the ground (and I saved one harsh reality for the end of this post).

Additionally, I brought up a few “rules” (or at least observations I’ve discovered) about choosing your metrics.  I could have added suboptimization to the list, but I’ve found there are some finer points to consider about this psychological pattern when it comes to your software’s sales, adoption, deployment, and expansion.

Read the rest of this entry »





Pricing and the metrics that matter

31 07 2009

Previously, we engaged the topic of the metrics you might choose as the basis of your pricing and how the evolution of technology will disrupt your well-laid plans.  This is especially true in software and hardware, but can also be found in other areas such as telecommunication or Internet services.

Businesses tend to manage new technology or legislation very closely.  Executive positions and departments rise up around a new technology and then get re-focused as that technology is commoditized.  Think about what “IT” means today vs. 20 years ago.  It might have been called IS, MIS, or “Information Systems” back then.  The role of IT used to pertain to mainframes, networking etc. but has grown to encompass cell phones, voice over IP services, laptop support, managed software deployments, cybersecurity etc.

The government can create new positions involuntarily within a business as well.  There are now “Chief Compliance Officers” (i.e. “guy in charge of going to jail”).  But, as these roles become more habitual and the variability or costs become reduced, these roles in an organization can shift or dissolve.

Licensing metrics: Rules Patterns

This is a set of observations I’ve collected over the years in studying and theorizing about what metrics to use for software pricing and licensing.  The only thing that can help deal with technological or market evolution is have a plan around changing your licensing scheme.  When you have those discussions, keeping these things in mind may help.  Here we go:

Read the rest of this entry »





Human nature and software pricing (#2) – let sales do their job

25 06 2009

Deep in the process of pricing, in the midst of the miasma of spreadsheets, whiteboards, and scenario development, the pricing master will teeter on the edge of sanity.  Combinations of customer situations, past corporate agreements, and product development plans will swirl and form into transient clusters of pricing policy and licensing metrics that must be analyzed and evaluated.

Let’s talk about that for a second because it sounds like I’m out of my mind.  But we’ve been there… the vortex of information that surrounds pricing can overwhelm the senses and make good ideas indistinguishable from disastrous ones.

While I do believe that to know pricing is to know madness at times, pricing will always drive you to that point if you forget this simple rule:

Let sales people do their job.

Sales can be your ally, but you have to involve them in a specific way in order to bring about the best results for you, the company, and their commission.

Read the rest of this entry »





Product management and pricing: floor wax or dessert topping*?

11 06 2009

I’m going to clarify some terms. 
I promise this relates back to pricing and product management.

Art is not a pejorative term

But some people use the word “art” to denigrate anything that they believe has no intrinsic value or lacks a factual basis.

People fear having their work labeled as “art” because it implies that their work is superficial, unrepeatable, and lacks measurable value.  Basically: un-fundable.

Marketing, product marketing, product management, interaction design, and design in general have all tenaciously emphasized the quantitative aspects of their fields in order to avoid having their fields classified as “art” (and therefore irrational and value-free).

And, if all you have met are flighty, self-important, arbitrarily enigmatic, talent-free, damaged hacks that call themselves “artists”, I’d have to agree with you.

Read the rest of this entry »