Posts Tagged ‘electronic software distribution’
Once your new ESD infrastructure is in place, who is going to use it?
If you are about to answer “customers”, don’t bother. That response too easy and too broad.
The list of users that we create in this step is different from project stakeholders. A User is one who will engage the features and functions of the system on a routine basis (double your bonus points if your stakeholder list includes real Users).
Who is responsible for the final approval to “ship” content?
Who manages the part-numbers that for sale and distribution?
Who will submit the files to the public-facing tools?
Who is responsible for creating and approving accounts?
Who are the customer service personnel that will support the process?
List the users, and make sure to add their backups. Plan to involve this group in planning, testing, and post launch audit meetings. As these are the folks who will be using your ESD tools each day or week they are your internal user community. These are the folks getting your product to your customers today, and bearing the burden of any antiquated processes, so its extremely important to bring each of them tangible benefits with your ESD project.
Use whatever is comfortable, including the analog pencil and paper. The format doesn’t matter. Ignore buzzwords like UML, Flow, Process, BPM, etc. and ignore getting sucked into fancy diagramming tool choices. Draw the picture however you are comfortable. The diagram will change, guaranteed.
At OMS we go back-and-forth between system diagrams and activity diagrams.
Here’s an example of an activity box diagram we use to help get lubricate conversations about ESD.
Plan == Create == Build == Manage == Release == Entitle == Distribute == Support
The objective of this step is simply to outline areas of focus that are important to achieving the business outcomes you desire. This is not an implementation checklist, that will come later. This is the umbrella sketch of things your organization will think about (and do) that impact your digital distribution project.
If you prefer, you may wish to sketch the system, or infrastructure for your project. Inside the firewall, staging, testing, Customer facing, Partner facing are four good starting boxes. In other words, the where instead of the what that you will ultimately use. Again, don’t worry about what it looks like, just get it down on paper.
It make no difference, at this point, whether your perspective is process (what) or system (where). Just start drawing. You’ll find that these pictures will become the most used and discussed tools in your ESD project toolkit.
What is in a name?
Imagine a world where a rose at night meant something different from a rose during the day. Imagine a world where context makes the difference between night and day. Welcome to the world of ESD. No, ESD for me is not electrical static discharge however the definition on one web page starts out promisingly as “an ESD system comprises a user-accessible subsystem” however it continues on as “(for example, a first gasoline pump), a local ground …”. That comparison aside, ESD can mean different things to different companies and people its all in the context you see. For instance, OMS SafeHarbor and other companies have electronic software delivery (distribution) systems while Content Distribution Networks (CDNs) like our own partner Akamai have ESD services. So this blog explores how our ESD is different from a CDN’s ESD and how, in fact, they are complimentary.
Let’s start out with a broad definition of ESD; the kind that is shockingly fast not the kind with electrons leaping to a grounded source. Electronic Software Delivery at its very heart is about delivering software products to end users via the internet versus physical delivery. The basis for all software delivery is digital assets (electronic finished goods – the software and documentation). Digital assets refer to any files related to a product. Okay actually here is the first difference between us and CDNs; they are focused on files while we define products as a collection of files. In the end we both want to deliver the file(s) but where we start defines where we can go. In actual fact, CDNs are very much about networks, point-to-point delivery and file downloads while our ESD is about entitlements, products, users, and downloads.
Entitlements are simply the tangible obligations software vendors have to their customers. A customer purchases product A and therefore has an entitlement to the deliverables associated with product A. Entitlements can be shared between users through accounts or through other means, they allow company ABC to have a number of people access the digital assets associated with product A. Products are a collection of files (deliverables/digital assets) but have a structure, content and metadata associated with them. Files have attributes, a name and a size, and have a binary representation.
OMS SafeHarbor’s ESD provides controlled access to digital assets through entitlements. An Entitlement Center is dynamically constructed for each user based on their personal or account entitlements. It provides the list of products which have descriptions and other metadata along with a structure for the digital assets (release notes, CD1, install zip and user guide) and each of those digital assets have content (files). So here is why we are partners with CDNs like Akamai, because they make the delivery (point-to-point) for files go faster and more reliably across the internet. CDNs need web pages, emails or some other event driven process (like our entitlement center access) to make the link between a user or computer and the file to be downloaded. We provide the control center and they provide the network.
In the end, ESD is all about getting the software delivered but how you get started defines where you can go. For instance starting with an eCommerce system to purchase products and a CDN to deliver them you can effectively perform Initial Product Delivery (IPD). The customer can buy the product and download it as fast as the transaction is approved but what about subsequent support (updates, lost files and license management). Start with our ESD system, bolt on eCommerce and integrate with a CDN ESD and you have a complete vehicle. The customer buys his software online or through traditional sales channels, the orders flow into our ESD solution to create entitlement and notify the customer they can access the product now and again in the future. Release a fix or service pack use product chaining to identify those who have a base entitlement and then notify them they can come and get it now (or later) when they access the entitlement center. When they click on the file to download, we can have them accept the EULA (license agreement), we can validate them against government lists and verify by geolocational lookup that we are following export compliance regulations and your business practices and then we can call the CDN to delivery point-to-point through the internet. That’s the universe we live in, where ESD meets the complete needs of offering customer self-service for IPD and updates, where marketing intelligence can meet product registration and entitlement management, where integration, automation and digital product management can meet the challenge of replacing manual and physical processes to deliver software efficiently and cost- effectively.
OMS Announces Plans to extend the reach of its EntitleNow! Platform.
OMS SafeHarbor will be offering three plans under the EntitleNow! SMB solution. The first is intended for those customers who need to distribute a single product to a known set of customers, a one time site. The second plan offers a full ESD implementation allowing customers to see their orders and products along with product updates. The final plan offers an integrated eCommerce solution to allow customers to purchase online and then download within minutes of the purchase the product deliverables.
Find out more at our home page.