Microsoft Corp. CIO Jim DuBois is playing an outsized role as he addresses one of the software giant’s biggest challenges: simplifying a complex licensing process that drives customers nuts.
His team is developing software that will help CIOs better manage the Microsoft applications their companies consume.
“We’re trying to simplify the business processes around our licensing, which is something we’ve had requests from our customers for a while,” said Mr. DuBois who became the company’s CIO in 2013.
Mr. DuBois could be understating the need. When Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, speaking before a packed house of CIOs at the Gartner Symposium IT/xpo last October, announced that the company would simplify some of its licensing policies, the crowd cheered—the first time in history, perhaps, that anything to do with licensing evoked such raw emotion.
Following Mr. Nadella’s lead, Mr. DuBois said his team is introducing “radical simplification” of documentation, language and terms to volume licensing systems, a set of online customer portals CIOs access to purchase rights to the company’s complex legion of products. The licensing system’s Microsoft Products and Services Agreement, documents defining the total amount and cost of software CIOs purchased, has been pared from 250 pages to eight. Mr. DuBois said he is piloting several other volume licensing products, which will be launched over the coming months. His department, which runs the systems in the company’s Azure cloud infrastructure software, works closely with business leaders to refine how the licensing processes appear within the customer portals. Such custom development is “really core to our business,” he said.