Commercializing software presents some unique challenges not typically found with physical intellectual property. Software markets are crowded and often saturated with many undifferentiated solutions. Further, the software industry tends to be highly skeptical of anything “not invented here.” Software’s black-box architecture exacerbates this cultural attitude. Prospective licensees do not put much stock in written collateral or presentations, and demand hands-on experience with the software (in their own computing environment, with their own data) as part of their due diligence.
So how can you be successful in commercializing software? Here are some dos and don’ts.
- Create online, self-running demonstrations of your software with narrative voiceovers
- Create collateral that clearly differentiates your software from what is already available on the market; a feature/function matrix would be helpful
- Make an evaluation version available on a time-trial basis (under nondisclosure agreement [NDA] and/or Software Usage Agreement if necessary) to prospects
- Be prepared to support the evaluation process with additional technical resources
- Expect prospects to license the software based on its marketing brochure alone
- Misrepresent the software’s technology readiness level or make prospects erroneously think they can run the software as-is when really they will be best served by redeveloping it using their own architectures
- Forget that with software, a prospect’s decision to license often comes down to make-versus-buy (Is it cheaper to license the software than to develop it from scratch?)
Marketing software intellectual property can be a challenging task. Providing clear differentiation and trial versions of the software will help alleviate the natural skepticism inherent in this market.
–By Karen Hiser