Publishers MUST Provide Entitlement Data to their Customers before Holding them Accountable for Compliance

I recently participated in our Regional SoftSummit Briefings in Cambridge, MA and Houston, TX. At both events I asked for a show of hands of Producers who share entitlement information with end customers using a web UI and much to my surprise, there were none.

In my experience, there is immense value for Producers to provide entitlement information to their customers online, easily accessible with downloadable reports, available 7×24.

What is an Entitlement vs. a License?

Before I list the benefits, let's all make sure we are using the word "entitlement" the same way. ISO 19770-2 defines an entitlement as: License use rights or rights to a service, as defined through agreements between a software licensee or user (and recipient of service) and a software copyright holder or service provider

I don't think that's quite right. I would add:

  • A recording of a license use right or rights…

Instead of worrying about academic definitions – perhaps we can agree on the definition by using an example:

  • Sales person has a special end-of-year sale – buy 1000+, get 50% off
  • Customer purchases 2000
  • Customer then takes that 2,000 and gets a license key for a number of departmental servers:
    • 100 for Utah
    • 500 for California
    • 500 for 北京
    • 300 for Europe
    • And the remaining 600 to be used later

 The entitlement is the record that says:
                Customer A has rights to 2000 of thing X

The licenses are the 100, 500, etc. that are installed on various license servers.

The Value of Sharing Entitlement Information Online

By providing entitlement information and making it available to customers and/or partners, consumers of this information can answer questions like:

  • Producer sales person: Does Customer A have rights to this feature/product?
  • Channel partner: An upgrade is coming up – who is using the current version a lot so I can do training campaign?
  • Channel partner: Which of my customers have maintenance or subscription licenses expiring in the next 90 days?
  • Customer/enterprise IT manager: Wants to a plan next year's license budget  - pulls a report to get feedback on use from all his constituents.
  • Customer/enterprise IT manager: Wants to plan next year's maintenance budget – pulls a report of all expiring maintenance entitlements.
  • Customer/enterprise IT manager: Is running out of licenses and wants to see which departments might have some under used licenses.
  • Customer/enterprise IT manager: Is planning that a division is going to be spun out as a separate company and wants to determine entitlement and license impacts.

Besides data mining advantages, there is one "unspoken" value:

  • It's much easier to hold a customer accountable to keeping compliant – if you (as a Producer) tell them what you think they have and make that available anytime they want

The Value of Not Sharing Entitlement Information Online

I can't think of a reason…. Are there any reasons you can think of?

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2 comments on “Publishers MUST Provide Entitlement Data to their Customers before Holding them Accountable for Compliance

  1. on   # Reply

    You make a good point about the difference between entitlement and license but there is a 3rd element that must also be considered, Deployment.

    I your example Utah may be licensed for 100 but might only have deployed 50. Although for desktop it will be the 100 that will be relevant for many server based products it will be what is deployed (installed and running)

    It is already difficult for Producers to track license entitlement given the complex resellers agreements and license models, couple this with a frequently changing organizations (Utah merges with Europe) we should not expect a change any time soon

  2. Mark on   # Reply

    I fully see the value of the vendor sharing this online, but also did somethinking on why a vendor would not sharing Entitlement Information Online: they can’t do it!

    To publish requires a certain level of administration & maintenance in place. This is absent/difficult due to a number of issues:
    .- purchases systems are de-central
    .- who are ‘you’; i.e. purchases are done under different legal entity names/companies change.
    .- requires standardization of entitlement rules
    .- distributors might not reveal the end-user to the publisher
    .- etc.

    It can be done, but even if a publisher would like to provide this, it is a complex (read costly) process to set-up and execute. I would think the market should reward the publisher that can correctly share purchases, let alone entitlements.

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