Oren Gabay, CEO at OpenLM tells us about software licensing and overcoming challenges during the pandemic.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Oren Gabay: We are doing ok, thank you. Like any other family, we try to stay safe and cope with the effects of the pandemic.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded OpenLM.
Oren Gabay: I and Rachel Bahar used to work in a company as GIS manager and as a GIS software team leader respectively. We found that the organization purchased new ArcGIS licenses frequently, while many that had been purchased were not used.
This gave us a vision of something better, a vision of efficient license usage where new software licenses are purchased only when needed. We went ahead and created OpenLM and have never looked back since! We duplicated the concept of what we had done for ArcGIS to Autodesk and the product scope has since spread to thousands of engineering software applications.
That was 12 years ago, and today OpenLM is an established software company, based in Israel with branches in the US, Japan, Moldova, and now India, with over 1200 customers, mainly in the engineering and scientific domains.
How does OpenLM innovate?
Oren Gabay: Our secret to innovation is our customer. We always communicate with them and try to understand their needs, eventually developing new features or adding new license managers, helping them to increase productivity and reduce license spendings.
On another hand, in the last years, we have invested a lot in our Development Team, bringing more high-skilled professionals on board and implementing new technologies, thus developing new products. Another boost for innovation and improvement was our partnership with ServiceNow, OpenLM being today the engineering software license management solution on this platform.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Oren Gabay: We have to admit that the pandemic significantly “changed the numbers” on our forecasting sales board. We have planned an increase of 35% in sales for 2020 and obviously, we couldn’t achieve this. However, we are happy we could get through 2020 and cover all our expenses, keep our business afloat during these hard times, and our staff financially secure.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources and what are the lessons learned?
Oren Gabay: We are proud to say that we have managed this part quite successfully and we haven’t done any reduction in the number of jobs. More than that, we have hired more people and will continue to invest much more in our human resources. We have learned that now it is important to stay together, work harder and reinvent ourselves in order to continue to bring the best solutions for engineering software license management which exist on the market.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Oren Gabay: As mentioned above, ongoing communication with our customers is extremely important to us. In these particular times, we tried to be as close as possible to our customers. We learn about their issues and struggles through their feedback from questionnaires, surveys, calls, etc.
Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, some businesses have canceled all their purchases or have suspended them for a period of time. But at the same time, we have learned from some of our customers or potential customers about their immediate need to reduce license costs and at the same time, increase productivity. We were happy we could help to bring the right solution at the right time.
We continued to work very closely with our customers and when needed, continued service to customers that were not able to pay. We provide all the communication means for the customers to reach us, either by phone, email, website chat or contact forms, etc. We also provide 24/6 support to our customers and keep personal communication with them when needed.
This month we organize the OpenLM Customer Conference, dedicated to them and other people interested in OpenLM. With this, we hope to provide the answers to their needs or solutions which would significantly improve their license management and reduce license costs.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Oren Gabay: We are grateful we could keep our business afloat. We received one grant from the US government – it’s called PPP and based on keeping employees, but as this pandemic is not over yet, we still might request another one if needed.
Your final thoughts?
Oren Gabay: The pandemic is difficult for everyone and we understand that in this particular time we need to rediscover ourselves and most importantly to be supportive. Even if it affected our lives and our businesses, we hope to get back to you soon.
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