Technology companies take pride in moving fast. Moving quickly creates a badge of honor that attracts new customers. Speed also brings new products to market faster and builds stellar reputations. However, that quick momentum combined with emerging technologies can cause process gaps.
These gaps are caused by different software versions, different coding (think open source), different software platforms, different licensing and protection technologies, and different monetization and distribution.
While speed to market remains critical, technology companies also have to connect the dots, closing key business gaps to protect revenue, prevent security risks and more.
Here are seven gaps and tips on how to close them.
Tip 1: Consolidate your software business.
Gap: Different software products are run in silos with no holistic view or management.
Things can get very complicated with multiple deployment and monetization models. This can cause issues such as:
- Not knowing how the overall software business is doing.
- Duplicating efforts in development, operations and customer support.
- No consistent and secure management of software vulnerabilities.
- Creating a disjointed customer experience, especially if using multiple products.
- Managing who’s using what across product lines.
- Managing compliance, updates and renewals.
Then when you add in growth or an acquisition, the situation becomes even more difficult to manage.
Close the Gap: Complication goes away when you centralize the management of software.
You can take the following steps to centralize your efforts:
- Try a central Software Monetization platform to manage the details unique to software products (version, platform, updates).
- Track related customer information and usage in one spot, making it fast and easy to provision users, change use rights and manage.
- Create an easy view for your customers or channel partners to access and manage their entitlements and licenses.
- Simplify applying monetization models and speed time to market.
- Protect revenue, know who’s using your products and how much they’re using.
Tip 2: Know what’s in your code.
Gap: Open Source Software (OSS) makes up 50-90 percent of commercial code, but most companies don’t track its use.
OSS is free, but comes with the following obligations and risks:
- Creation and delivery of an accurate Bill of Materials.
- License obligations that may include license attribution or release of source code.
- Software Vulnerabilities that create an attack surface for hackers.
- Due-diligence processes during mergers and acquisitions to ensure no IP rights are at risk.
Close the Gap: It’s time to peel back what’s going on with that code through an internal management process.
The following tips can help you in your fact-finding mission:
- Establish an OSS review board – including engineering, IT, legal and management.
- Define processes and policies for OSS use, including approval and documentation.
- Identify the OSS code that you’re using today to understand any risks or vulnerabilities.
- Use technology to automate the scanning of your code to identify and fix vulnerabilities.
- Create an automated process to more quickly communicate updates and patches.
Tip 3: Offer the right product at the right price point.
Gap: Today’s products (on-premise, SaaS, and embedded) are offered and priced in different ways.
Customers like how pricing can be adapted to their needs. However, this can be confusing and hard to track due to the following factors:
- Managing different monetization models for different products.
- Accurately tracking what exactly customers can use and change access automatically when their use rights change.
- Following when renewals are due.
- Notifying customers and sending updates to those who are eligible.
Close the Gap: Implements flexible, agile monetization models, manage well and support transparency
You can track and manage your monetization models by:
- Tailoring your packages – offer lite, basic or deep products to meet customer needs.
- “Scaling” what you offer – help customers evolve as they grow.
- Switching features on and off, which is especially important for hardware products to reduce physical configurations.
- Offering hybrid pricing, combining a basic subscription with charges for top usage during peak periods.
Best of all, you’ll really be tuned in to what people are using and how often they’re using it. There will be no more guessing for key decisions.
Tip 4: Open up visibility for customers.
Gap: Corporate customers expect transparency and ease-of-use of what they own. This hasn’t been easy for technology companies to provide.
The following complications can arise:
- Lack of accurate information for multiple products, platforms and versions.
- The need for manual intervention when provisioning or changing use rights.
- Lack of clarity for customers in knowing what they use and pay for.
- A less-than-stellar user experience, which can leave a poor impression on customers.
Close the Gap: Accessing software and managing use rights should be easy as pie.
You can take the following steps to create a better customer experience for your users:
- Offer a simple view into what’s been purchased, what’s being used, and what’s owed.
- Go deep – share volume used, updates/features availability, end dates and renewal dates.
- Create self-service – let customers manage users, devices, licenses, transactions and roles/permissions.
- Offer self-services and be able to send targeted notifications to customers on a certain product line or version.
- Offer seamless integration in SaaS apps, showing all information and enabling changes in-app.
Tip 5: Know which products customers use and keep them secure.
Gap: If what your customers use isn’t clear, it’s a security risk.
Security risks can be caused by the following problems:
- Getting information out to the right people if a vulnerability is discovered.
- Implementing failsafe and fast update processes for software and devices.
- Being unable to deliver updates quickly, to deploy them or to track what exactly has been delivered and installed.
Close the Gap: Customer protection will be strong with instant and traceable notification and update processes.
You can achieve this by:
- Tracking the details – version, platform and support plan per customer.
- Knowing device usage, especially for device manufacturers to change capacity and capability electronically.
- Speeding up communication with automated notifications about new versions and patches.
- Equipping your support and field teams with one spot to find key information.
- Enabling autonomous and user-controlled software updates and patches plus a waterproof track record of what’s deployed where.
Tip 6: Let there be light. Let intelligence drive decisions.
Gap: Insights-driven business decisions are a reality. The days of “hunches” about key decisions should be history.
You can make the following mistakes when making important decisions:
- Guessing about product usage, which can mean a new release or product can miss the mark.
- Not reviewing enough data can send pricing and development decisions in the wrong direction.
- Wasting valuable time via an endless circular discussion about what features should be top priority.
- Not having enough insight on what’s happening on devices out in the field, causing increased maintenance cost and customer issues.
Close the Gap: Let insights drive your decisions. Know what your customers do and learn what they need.
You should be utilizing product and usage insights to:
- Discover the popularity of a certain feature before deciding about pricing.
- Find out who’s using what with in-product analytics technology.
- Build a strategic end-of-life plan with insights on platforms and operating systems being used.
- Analyze consumption—implement pay-per-use or value-based pricing based on detailed usage data.
- Work proactively with customers if they’re using too much or too little, or if they’re running old versions of your products.
Tip 7: Create a magnificent customer journey.
Gap: Manual processes will break, creating a poor customer experience. This also wastes time, as emails and phone calls will fly around to figure out what’s going on.
The following issues can and will arise:
- Scaling your business becomes difficult.
- Wasting time tracking down information instead of taking care of customers.
- Communicating slowly with your customers means they won’t know about important releases, patches and updates in a timely fashion.
Close the Gap: When you build the connection between software, devices and customers, you create a strong and meaningful customer journey.
To create a stellar customer experience, you can:
- Automate notification processes and send alerts about upcoming new releases, renewals and more.
- Add self-service and empower customers to configure their products or to move them within the organization.
- Leverage usage data by using detailed analytics and product insights as the basis for pricing and billing.
- Drive recurring revenue by streamlining the cross-sell, upsell and renewal processes.
- Continue to move fast by leveraging a powerful operations process.
Hello Revenue Retention
By closing gaps in your internal and external processes, you’ll create a powerful and meaningful journey for your customers. By looking at how your organization functions though your clients’ eyes, you’ll deliver what they need, when they need it.
By using the above tips as plugs for these gaps, not only will you create happy customers, but you will also avoid revenue leaks and maintain a happy bottom line.
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