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DAM: Building Utility into Media (Part II)

Click here for Part I.

"Accidental" Media Companies

Although sports content serves as an excellent test bed and showcase for what DAM can do, there’s a huge market in the corporate space — a fact to which Virage can attest, given the positioning of some of its recent customers, including Deutsche Bank, Citigroup and Pfizer. Many companies have more digital assets than they imagined, and the value of those assets only becomes clear with the ability to manage them effectively.

As Andersen’s Piesanen points out, every company is a media company. "Forrester came up with the phrase ‘accidental publisher,’ but we think that many companies are ‘accidental media companies,’" he says. "You can be the oldest smokestack company in the world but still have media-like functions and problems."

Financial institutions, in particular, are media-rich environments, says Carlos Montalvo, chief marketing officer at Virage. Citigroup is using Virage to deploy on-demand access of its daily video briefings on its corporate intranet. The government market is another growth area; Virage also boasts clients like the FBI, NASA, the Library of Congress and Goodfellow Air Force Base.

ROI and Revenue Generation

With the high cost of DAM systems, it’s important to be able to show positive return on investment. But most vendors have a wealth of stories to illuminate the benefits of their solutions. EMotion says that one international advertiser saved over $1 million a year in tape duplication and overnight courier costs alone. In addition, Francis says DAM can save on "soft costs," like the cost of personnel time spent searching and retrieving files.

Claims of ROI vary widely, however. Piesanen says that Andersen helps companies to calculate the ROI equation by looking at training costs, licensing, staffing and more. "When we do ROI models, we can identify 800 variables that are specific to the business," says Piesanen. Although he wouldn’t reveal specific ROI numbers, Piesanen did say that all ROI calculations the company has done have been "overwhelmingly positive."

Artesia’s own research shows that a company can get a return on its DAM investment in nine to 18 months, with a five-year ROI of over 100 percent. Frost and Sullivan analyst Krishna warns that ROI on DAM solutions is not always crystal clear. "It’s still a leap of faith for many," he says.

Although there’s hope for revenue generation, many companies are just concerned about saving money. "Many are still at [cost] savings," Bulldog’s Strachan says. "There hasn’t been the opportunity to make money, ‘[First] show me you can save me money, then show me you can make me money.’"

Like the NBA and MLB, entertainment companies with thousands of hours of video or audio in their archives have an easier time finding ways to generate revenue. "Broadcasters have archives with thousands of feet of film or tape just gathering dust on shelves," says Krishna. "Once you have everything digital you can bring in the bread and butter."

Piesanen agrees, saying that every content company should be looking at ways to get new sources of revenue. Even non-media companies can find new revenues, he says. Piesanen points to companies like Harley-Davidson, Caterpillar and others that extend their logos to consumer goods like t-shirts and shoes. "There’s an enormous opportunity in corporate brand trademark licensing," he says. "If Caterpillar can do it, you can too."

Still, Piesanen warns that companies must be careful about the content they digitize. "There is a lot of media that is essentially worthless, so it is not intelligent, from an ROI perspective, to digitize it. Why would you want to digitize and store all your worthless media on expensive EMC storage?" he says. "Some things should be rotting on shelves."

The Next Step: Sharing

For many companies, the next step in the evolution of digital asset management is collaboration and sharing capabilities. Michael Aldridge, lead product manager in Microsoft’s Digital Media Division, says that collaboration is particularly important for Hollywood clients. He spoke of an implementation of a custom-built DAM solution created by Sample Digital, based in Santa Monica, for an unnamed film studio. Sample Digital is using Windows Media’s DRM technology to deliver daily rushes of film and TV productions to producers, directors and production managers, and allowing them to add comments and other remarks over the Web. (For more about digital dailies and the use of digital media delivery in film and television production, see "Hollywood's Digital Future"

Francis at eMotion says that its MediaPartner product is already going strong into the collaboration space. It includes annotation and drawing tools, time sync and approval functions to enable the sharing of content within a company’s entire workflow. "We can annotate on a stream," she says. "A video file gets sent, someone annotates the file, but just the annotation is sent, you don’t resend the video file." There can even be audio annotations.

eMotion also offers the Global Brand Manager, a collaboration tool that lets companies share, manage and retrieve media online. Users can log in and view streaming or downloadable videos and other files from any Internet-connected computer.

With so many solutions, there’s no easy way to know which one is the right one for you. Who should you go with? Every company has its own DAM requirements, says Piesanen, so there’s no one magic solution. "If it were that simple, noone would need outside help to guide them," he says.

With the explosion of digital content and streaming, there’s little doubt that DAM technologies will become fundamental for many media companies and Fortune 1000 corporations. "This is the way media is going to be produced and distributed in the future," says Piesanen. "We’re never going to go back."

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