The software maintenance agreement
(SMA) is the next iteration in this software evolution where an appliance-based (NVR/DVR) software solution is supported by the software producer to provide more support and in a priority delivery model. Think of the “fast pass” at Disney World where you can legally and morally cut in line for an additional cost. The extra cost sure makes all the expense of getting to Disney World more effective and enjoyable.
The SMA allows an end user to protect business of departmentally critical applications against obsolescence, while making incremental improvements in their operations at a discounted cost. Hey, I like priority seating, especially with my hectic workday and travel schedule don’t you?
When advising end users, here is what I tell them they should look for before buying a SMA:
A company with a track record of consistently investing in its software growth and development during the past six to seven years. There is nothing worse than investing money in end-of-life software that isn’t being improved.
Look at new ways a software application can help improve the business or achieve departmental goals. It is easy to view product offering in a narrow perspective and from a historical aspect.
Look at the number of people in the organization who may need support and what time zones they work in. Select support hours that fit that particular business.
Here’s an example in support of that last bullet: My wife Jayne was diligently working on distributing a document from a cloud service provider that we promised to attendees from a conference in which we spoke. After getting the document in the correct format, our ASP would not deliver the document to be opened to our test E-mail address. After some creative language, hair pulling and frustration, she pinged the ASP support E-mail. There was a message regarding some difficulty they were having with links for documents … great!
The Role Integrators Can Play
The key impact on the security industry is learning how to blend a SMA strategy into your business revenue streams as a systems integrator, manufacturer or software provider. Who owns this revenue stream anyway? The business model is just emerging so I guess it is up to the people who take a leadership position. Do we have any precedent to guide us along this path?
Yes, but I don’t think the systems integrator community will like the example. Look no further than your lap or desk computer to find the answer. In the world of Silicon Valley, the software-driven business models are a mature and well understood revenue stream. SMAs are usually between the developers and the end user, with rare exceptions. This makes sense as they must provide the deep native knowledge to support their applications. Introducing a “middleman” in this process, such as the systems integrator, would both complicate and make the process unmanageable.
The good news is there is an opportunity for systems integrators to get onboard if they can “sell” this SMA for the software providers, negotiate a cut, and then wrap around the “brick and mortar” support for virtual software problem solving.
Paul Boucherle, Certified Protection Professional (CPP) and Certified Sherpa Coach (CSC), is principal of Canfield, Ohio-based Matterhorn Consulting
(www.matterhornconsulting.com). He has more than 30 years of diverse security and safety industry experience and can be contacted at [email protected]
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