Understanding Software Escrows

From paper records to digital archives; from written correspondence to instant online communications… one thing that we can certainly all agree on is that technology has completely transformed the way that businesses operate. However, while we may think that we’re currently at the peak of technological advancement, this really couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, new technologies are being introduced all the time, and they have the potential to change how we operate, how we develop, and how we engage with our audience.

Here are 10 technologies that could transform your business this year:

1). AR & VR

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) apps may have been around for a while, but they are still continuing to grow at an almost unprecedented rate. In fact, an increasing number of businesses are beginning to adopt these technologies, offering an entirely new experience for their customers. According to ValueCoders, both AR and VR  have been revolutionary in the gaming and entertainment industries, forming the basis of apps such as Pokemon Go and iOnRoad, and facilitating the launch of devices such as Google Cardboard and Oculus Rift.

According to Fortune, experts predict that AR and VR will generate $150 billion in revenue by 2020, creating a huge new market for developers and enterprises to explore. And according to ISSUU, standalone artificial reality app downloads will reach a whopping 1,389 million by 2022.

AR and VR have the potential to transform your business by introducing a completely new way for you to interact with and engage your audience. With these technologies, anything is possible — quite literally! This opens up doors to creating new, experimental, unusual, stand out, enjoyable, and memorable experiences, boosting customer retention rates and loyalty.

2). Software Escrow

Like AR and VR, software certainly isn’t a new idea, or a new technology. What is new, however, is how we use software, and how we protect software. Software escrow agreements are becoming increasingly popular. The concept is simple: valuable source code is maintained by a neutral third party, which gives businesses peace of mind that, should their software vendor be unable to maintain their side of the contract (bankruptcy, for example), the business will still be able to access and use the software that they have come to rely on through the agreement.

In most cases, a software escrow agreement will include a set of ‘release conditions’ which outline the details of an agreed ‘event’. Upon this event occuring, the third party agent will release the code to the business to ensure that business is able to continue operating.

Regardless of whether you’re a software vendor, or a licensee, a software escrow agreement could transform your business, As a vendor, you’re able to provide your customers with the knowledge that their software is safe, no matter what happens. As a licensee, you’re protecting yourself, and your clients, by ensuring you have a strong and solid business continuity plan.

3). Artificial Intelligence

Gartner reports that there will be a more than 300% increase in investment on artificial intelligence (AI) next year compared to that throughout 2017. Thanks to this rapid investment boost, it’s expected that the AI market will experience a revenue growth of more than $47 billion in 2020. Through the use of advanced analytics, cognitive interfaces into complex systems, and machine learning technologies, AI will offer businesses greater access to powerful insights never before available to them, resulting in more customised, personal experiences.

Mobile apps are increasingly learning about user preferences, and it’s expected that AI Android application development will continue to grow throughout 2018. Research suggests that there has never been a better time for businesses to invest in artificial intelligence technologies.

In terms of transforming your business, what we have with artificial intelligence is machine-learning technologies that are effortlessly able to analyze user data, identify patterns in customer behaviours, and predict future actions and trends. These aspects can all work to increase the efficiency of your marketing efforts, leading to better returns on investment.

4). Cloud-Driven Android Apps

Cloud technology is an area of rapidly growing interest. Through added security, increased flexibility, and improved access to important data from anywhere, at any time, cloud storage has certainly already proven to be life changing. However, the way that cloud storage is utilized by businesses is changing, with cloud-driven apps becoming the latest in a long line of uses. The concept of cloud-driven apps is simple: an app fetches relevant data from the cloud as and when requested by the user, rather than storing all possible data within the device’s memory.

Consider cloud-based apps such as Google Drive, for example. A standard, entry-level Google Drive account can store 15GB of data, while a smartphone or small tablet device may only have an 8GB internal memory. Without cloud retrieval, many apps would be largely obsolete.

Therefore, it’s clear how cloud-driven apps can benefit businesses. They allow for users to access large quantities of data without the need to download this data onto the device. In situations were internal storage is a primary concern for users, a ‘small’ sized app is the preferred option, giving your business offerings a competitive edge over larger downloads.

5). Cybersecurity Technologies

According to Gartner, 75% of mobile apps would not pass even basic security tests, which is a worrying thought at a time when safety and security of online data has never been more important. As a result, developers are beginning to trial more innovative methods to secure the app’s code from the ground up. Fortunately, there has been a definite increased focus on cybersecurity within the past few years, leading to an overall increased awareness of the risks and vulnerabilities of development, creating better use of authorizations and encryption.

What we can see now is that cybersecurity will dominate all aspects of technological advancements, especially within the mobile app development field. To date, mobile apps have largely favored UX over security, although it appears that we are at a major turning point.

Following on from highly publicized issues in relation to online safety and security (the Facebook scandal has, of course, been a big wake up call), cybersecurity is now a main priority. Unsurprisingly, it has also become a priority for users who are today actively seeking to use apps and choose businesses who are able to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to privacy.

6). Wearable Devices

The International Data Corporation (IDC) reports that, contrary to popular belief, wearable devices are not dead! In fact, the market for wearable devices is actually expected to experience a composite annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.3%, leading to 213.6 million units shipped in 2020. This anticipated growth is expected to come from new and alternative uses for wearables, such as a wearables payment facility, for example. Additionally, it is thought that wearables will also play a major role in the future of mobile commerce (m-commerce).

To date, existing wearables are primarily used for daily activities relating to personal or professional lifestyles: step counting, sports tracking, calendar events, appointment reminders, and so on. However, there appears to be much more potential hidden within these devices.

For businesses interested in exploring m-commerce, there is the possibility that, when done correctly, a wearable payment facility could actually push existing smartphone payments to one side, fast becoming a preferred method. Wearable buttons, rings, and cufflinks are already in development, which suggests that businesses offering these solutions will be in demand.

7). M-Commerce and Mobile Payment Technologies

Following on from the use of wearable devices as an emerging payment solution, it is important to take a look at the decreasing use of cash and the increase in alternative payments. While credit and debit cards have both proven to be popular to date, digital solutions are becoming increasingly common and may have a place in the future of m-commerce and mobile payments. Google Wallet, for example, is now widely accepted.

The boost in mobile payment technologies is giving m-commerce the push it needs to solidify itself as a major purchasing avenue. It has been clear that m-commerce has failed to take off in quite the same way as e-commerce, and a lack of payment options could be responsible.

At a time when more and more businesses are trialling different ways of working, and are offering increased purchasing options to their buyers, customers are becoming more accustomed to this flexibility in how they make purchases. Adopting mobile payment technologies is anticipated to be an effective way of appealing to and attracting customers.

8). IOT

The Internet of Things (IOT) is based on the concept of connected devices, and the idea that ‘if X, then X’. Essentially, if an action or event takes place on one machine, it ‘talks to’ or instructs another machine to take a pre-arranged action. An example is a coffee maker that is instructed to turn on when an alarm clock rings. Analysts predict that IoT will grow to 661.74$ billion by 2021, and the technology is cited to be a driving force facilitating the introduction of smart homes, smart cities, smart health, smart retail, and even the possibility of smart automobiles.

IOT has been partly responsible for a sudden surge in app development as the increase in connected devices and machine-to-machine communications has resulted in an urgent need for new apps that are able to collect, analyze, and present data is an easy, readable format.

There are many ways that IOT can transform your business. For example, by giving your machines the appearance of intelligent ability, you’re creating ‘always on’ devices; a vital component of the ‘always on’ era. IOT can also create unrivalled efficiency in purchasing, with devices identifying and acting upon customer needs without the need for manual input.

9). Blockchain Technology

Blockchain technology is certainly one of the most frequently discussed topics of the year. To date, the term ‘blockchain’ is most commonly associated with cryptocurrency, and has been used as a ledger for crypto transactions for some time. However, there is more to blockchain that simply digital currencies. In fact, as a tamper-proof database that cannot be altered manually and which records all transactions that occur through the ledger, there is potential for this technology to be utilized within practically any industry or sector you can think of.

Consider, for example, the impact that a tamper-proof database could have upon the education industry, enabling accurate checking and recording of qualifications. Consider how blockchain could enable the safe and secure transfer of medical records from one hospital to another.

In terms of business operations as a whole, what blockchain technology has the potential to do is not only improve the accuracy of your transactional recordings, but also ensure that your records remain safe and secure, removing the risk of human error. Regardless of what industry you operate in — insurance, finance, retail — added accuracy and security is highly beneficial.

10). Kotlin

Kotlin is certainly making headlines. Last year, Google officially declared Kotlin as a first class language for Android, and adoption rates are clearly increasing at a very rapid speed. This year, it is expected to be used by more developers than ever before, and experts are advising Android app developers to opt for Kotlin over other common programming languages. Kotlin can be used for mobile app development as well as for Backend development, offering all of the very best and most favored features of well-known programming languages in one.

One of the main benefits of Kotlin is its readability, which has resulted in it becoming just the third official language used by Google, in addition to Java and C++. It is reported that Kotlin is already being used by brands such as Amazon, Pinterest, Coursera, Uber, Netflix, and Trello.

If you’re a software-based business, Kotlin could hold the potential to transform your operations. Not only does Kotlin make null values much easier to deal with, but the ease of the language could actually help to reduce the release cycle, helping you to give your customers what they want, when they want it. While it’s no miracle cure, it’s a step in the right direction.

What’s Next?

These 10 technologies are all available — in one form or another — to businesses today, but they don’t signal the end of this ongoing era of advancement. However, it’s challenging to say with any certainty what’s next for businesses. After all, it wasn’t too long ago that ideas such as AR, VR, IOT, and cloud-driven apps were considered ‘futuristic’. With entrepreneurs becoming bolder, more innovative, more confident, and definitely more unpredictable (Elon Musk, for example!), we can only assume that the next wave of technology will be truly groundbreaking.

 

Ekaterina Novoseltseva is a CMO at Apiumhub – software development hub, which is specialized software development and software architecture. 

3d rendering man making a code on a computer

What’s At Stake

Like artistic works and inventions, software is a product of the mind.  In other words, it’s intellectual property.

That makes it uniquely subject to a number of risks. For example, it’s easy to steal.  In fact, the theft of U.S. intellectual property has been called “the greatest transfer of wealth in human history.”

It’s subject to other dangers, too, and those dangers do not just affect the software vendor.

Software must be reliable, not only when considering bugs and downtime, but good software requires a stable and reliable software vendor.  Prospective customers – especially business customers – heavily rely on software to do their daily business and if the software vendor fails to support their software or simply disappears the customer can find themselves in a world of problems.

Maintaining Business Continuity With Mission-critical SaaS Applications

SaaS applications are universal features of the modern business world. Unfortunately, they don’t always come with the guarantees that they should.

No matter what kinds of software your clients license or use, they run the risk of massive failures if they don’t offset their dependency on vendors with viable backup plans. From data center disasters to software providers going under, your clients’ reliance on third-party tools endangers their day-to-day operations and ongoing profitability.

 

The Risk Defined: What Happens When Software Disappears?

Continuity is vital to doing business. Your clients’ customers won’t simply give them a pass because their software wasn’t working on a particular day or because they got hacked. Although most companies are diligent about securing their own internal systems, they expose themselves to the mercy of fate when it comes to their software vendors.

The dangers of ineffective continuity planning are all too real. Some sources estimate the amount of revenue lost annually to IT downtime to be in the $26 billion range.

The history of IT continuity planning is also riddled with examples of huge companies dropping the ball. For instance, Hurricane Sandy shut down the New York Stock Exchange in 2012, and as recently as 2008,  Google Apps suffered major outages. The IT world has certainly come a long way since those dark days, but such events still underscore the need for corporate continuity planning that ensures companies can keep functioning after they lose vital services and SaaS components.

There are several basic forms of software escrow agreement depending on what you and your business needs:

    1. The most basic and fundamental software escrow agreement is the standard three party agreement.  This type of agreement is entered into by a software escrow agent (EscrowTech), a software vendor and a licensee.  A standard three party agreement is perfect for a situation where a single licensee is requesting a software escrow however the software vendor does not want to set up an escrow for their other customers.
    2. The next type of escrow is a multiple party agreement.  This allows for a software vendor to set up an escrow and register one more licensees to their escrow.  This allows for a software vendor to keep a single escrow account for all of their licensees.  This greatly reduces the amount of time it takes to manage an escrow and significantly reduces the escrow’s cost.
    3. The next type of escrow is for multiple licensees spread across multiple software products.  Instead of managing multiple escrows this type of escrow allows you to have one central agreement to manage everything.  Like before this greatly lowers the amount of time spent managing an escrow and their associated costs.
    4. Some licensees need something more flexible.  In this situation a licensee creates an escrow account that allows for multiple software vendors to register.  Each software vendor is given a separate space in an escrow vault and can submit escrow materials for the licensee.  This is a great way for a licensee to organize all of its escrow accounts.
    5. The next type of escrow is a minimum service escrow.  This type of escrow allows for a software vendor to create a multiple party escrow without paying a licensee fee for each licensee.  The trade off is that the licensee does not receive notification from EscrowTech and can be removed or added to the escrow by the software vendor without notification.  Depending on your situation and the level of protection your licensees need, this type of escrow might meet your needs.

iStock_000030895028_SmallCloud computing has popularized the approach to software solutions known as “Software as a Service” (SaaS). It enables many businesses to use software located in a vendor’s cloud instead of their own infrastructure.  Because of this many businesses find themselves relying on cloud computing and data storage for their day-to-day operations. Yet cloud computing is still a fairly new industry with many rules yet to be written. As an industry, it moves rapidly, with acquisitions, changes in support structure, and interruptions in service still being fairly regular occurrences. How does a SaaS escrow play a part in protecting your Software as a Service rights?

Working at officeLet’s say you’re a licensee who has faith in the software developer with whom you work. You’ve heard good reviews from other business owners about their professionalism and courtesy. As a precaution based on your lawyer’s advice, you’ve taken out an escrow agreement for the software on which your business relies, protecting yourself, the developer, and your business relationship with them against unforeseen circumstances.

Over time, your trusted software developer goes out of business, or is acquired by another company, or has to cut back during hard times. Whichever way, the support and maintenance required to keep your software operations efficient just isn’t there anymore. It’s time to trigger a release on that escrow agreement.

BenefitsIn order to determine the value of its assets, a company must keep detailed records identifying all property owned. Physical property naturally lends itself to this tracking because there is something tangible to make an account for. Intellectual property, though intangible, can be one of the most valuable assets a business owns. An IP audit trail is a way to provide a tracing record of this valuable property and provides several advantages, including:

AUDIT“Conception of the invention,” is a bit of a funny phrase. Yet under patent laws, it can make or break someone’s life. In disputes between companies and inventors over an invention and its patent, whoever can prove “conception of the invention” can often win.

This means having documents, drawings, and disclosures about the intellectual property (IP) or invention’s history. This isn’t just about keeping an invention safe; it’s also about creating a trail.

An “actual reduction to practice of the invention” is another phrase, and that one feels even more impermeable. This means the embodiment of an invention’s concept: a prototype or working sample. In the case of software, earlier versions can also be included.

iStock_000073365803_SmallThere are several steps to keep in mind when agreeing upon a software escrow:

  1. The most important thing to decide for your company is which software applications should be escrowed in the first place. If software is mission-critical or difficult to replace, it should be escrowed.
  1. Ensure that the release terms in your escrow agreement are clear. Make sure both broad situations and detailed possibilities are both covered.
  1. Make sure your own company’s escrow policies are being followed. Often, companies set rules for themselves that apply to specific situations like escrow. However life happens and things get forgotten.

smallSourceCodeAll around the globe, companies license custom software that is critical to their business. Developing your own proprietary software can cost millions. For most industries, licensing pre-existing software for daily operations is both less expensive and less of a hassle to maintain. Yet how do you ensure that the company you’re licensing from doesn’t go out of business or otherwise breach a licensing contract? You can’t, and that’s why companies like EscrowTech exist.

Software and its source code can be stored, verified, and updated with us. This protects the vendor as they only have to distribute their source code to one trusted company instead of multiple customers who are demanding a source code license.

Just as important it protects the licensee. In the event a software vendor goes out of business, breaches a contract, or can’t maintain client-side operations, a release event is triggered. This releases the source code to the licensee so that they can continue the daily operations of their business unabated.

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