Welcome to the 21st Century
The longer you've been in this crazy business, the more of a sentimental attachment you're likely to feel to shrink-wrapped software. But this industry isn't in its infancy anymore, and it's time to give up that security blanket.
My opponent believes that possession of a box and a shiny disk conveys magical properties that can safely repel copyright and patent lawsuits and provide a "Get out of Jail Free" card for your next software audit. Sorry, but that's just not true. Having a physical package and some sort of certificate or sticker just means you have more stuff to keep track of. Your real rights when it comes to business software are defined by contract, and the shrink-wrapped box is completely irrelevant.
Getting over the obsession with the physical media is freeing in so many ways. Subscription-based software updates itself, so you don't have to continually be planning for migrations and downtime. And when old, vulnerable versions of a program are no longer available, the Internet at large is a better, safer place.
I'll keep a couple of those shrink-wrapped boxes around as reminders of the way the world used to work, but I won't miss them.
No harm in keeping it
I find no compelling reason for businesses to stop using shrink-wrapped software. If it gives them peace of mind or helps them better establish license compliance, then there's no harm in it. The advantages of having tangible, shrink-wrapped software in your possession far outweigh any disadvantages of having it.
Official, physical media and hard copies of accompanying licenses still mean something. There's value in it. You can refer to a copy of a printed manual. Read the box describing features of the product and a toll-free number to call in case of any problems is proper business software attire. You can't Casual Friday your way through everything by declaring that cloud-based software is simpler or more efficient. It's really a matter of perspective and preference.
Having tangible assets is part of what gives value to a company. It's difficult to explain perhaps to millennials but hard assets equal value. For example, companies that produce no tangible goods and have no hard assets have less perceived value than those that do. Shrink-wrapped software isn't just blips on a computer screen or records in a database; it's something that you can point to, hold, and use.
I do, however, realize that there is a time coming in a few years when physical, shrink-wrapped software will cease to exist in favor of cloud-based alternatives. That's still a dream for many. The reality is that businesses today want shrink-wrapped software and will as long as it's being produced. If software vendors want to wean businesses off of the real stuff, they'll have to deliver great alternatives.