Blog Entry

Jan 12
2016 

Transforming from a Medical Device Manufacturer to a SaaS Provider

Trends in the healthcare market are placing unprecedented value on the software that lies at the heart of today’s intelligent medical devices. This puts manufacturers under enormous pressure to innovate not only the types of products they build, but also how they go to market. At LicensingLive! 2015, I spoke at length about the licensing issues facing one of the world’s leading medical technology companies, Stryker Corporation, and how it has risen to the challenge.

Hardware hurdles

Traditionally, Stryker enabled and enforced licensing of its all-in-one data management solution, SDC3, using hardware dongles. While this was an effective method for the most part, it was not without its operational challenges. As anyone who’s ever had to issue dongles will tell you, preparing and shipping them is a costly and time-consuming process, not least because of all the factors beyond your control that can hold up delivery. Imagine how frustrating it must be for a customer to have a device in front of them but not be able to access certain features because the dongle hasn’t arrived! This situation can be avoided by implementing a cloud-based licensing solution that enables same-day ordering and instant electronic product activation.

It became clear to us that if we wanted to create such a sophisticated service offering with multiple packaging options, we would need to incorporate a licensing solution. Far from being licensing experts ourselves, we decided to put Gemalto and two other commercial licensing technology vendors through their paces. Gemalto really stood out for us in terms of ease of use, support, and partnership. We were impressed by the time and effort they invested in educating our licensing project team, even before we committed to implementing a solution.

Out with the old, in with the new

As it turns out, they were right to be confident – their combined Sentinel EMS and Sentinel Cloud Connect solution has been very good for our business, revolutionizing the way we package, provision, and enforce user entitlements. Eschewing the one-size-fits-all approach to licensing in favor of a service-based model has allowed us to capture new market segments and maximize our bottom line. After all, if every customer is a unique snowflake, shouldn’t the ways in which they consume our services be equally unique?

In addition to packaging our SaaS applications to meet market demands, Sentinel Cloud has given us the flexibility to test different pricing models including subscription and usage-based pre- and post-paid, without ever having to re-engineer a line of code. This is good news for hospitals whose shrinking capital expense budgets limit the medical technology they can afford and, ergo, the procedures they can perform. We’ve found that giving our customers the option to try before they buy is a great way to win them over and ensure their repeat business – something we were previously unable to do. What’s more, being able to differentiate our SaaS applications at the feature level means that we can enable additional features from remote without having to physically access the machine, giving the hospitals faster, and almost immediate, functionality upgrades.

The proof is in the back office

For its part, Sentinel EMS integrated seamlessly with our back office, providing a centralized platform for managing license definition, generation, and usage data collection. The transition from hardware dongles to cloud license enforcement for SDC3 was so successful, in fact, that we’re planning to implement Sentinel EMS licensing across our entire product range. Securing executive buy-in for the next phase of our licensing project was just as easy, given the extent to which we’ve streamlined our operational processes and reduced costs, not to mention enhanced the customer experience.

Since implementing Sentinel EMS with Sentinel Cloud, we have all the tools we need to manage the entire licensing lifecycle, keeping the surgeons who use our products on the cutting edge. It’s safe to say that licensing SaaS applications – even those that enable life-saving neurotechnology – needn’t be brain surgery.