Issue: May 1, 2007


Digital asset management (DAM) systems that streamline internal operations and the entire production environment are vital to production companies, post houses, agencies and other digital media service providers to meet these challenges. A new trend is emerging, however, as these organizations are recognizing that by extending DAM solutions beyond internal operations outward to their clients, they can gain competitive benefits and new revenue streams. Online services delivered with DAM as the basis can generate bottom-line advantages as well as provide better customer service. Digital media service providers are aggressively looking for ways to diversify their services, add value, and create competitive differentiation. DAM is one way they've discovered to compete and generate new income.

Post houses are making a significant shift in their use of DAM to overcome complexity, competition and client challenges in their industry. Flexible DAM solutions that are Web-based offer innovative online solutions for clients to shorten project cycle times, improve customer responsiveness, and manage digital libraries. DAM solutions also offer clients an answer to the increased delivery channel complexity they face (HDTV, IPTV, Internet, Mobile phone) with media transformation services - a way to repurpose media assets across these distribution channels in appropriate file formats. 

Grace & Wild, a provider of video post production services, chose to implement digital asset management to create a competitive differentiation for their company, diversify their services, improve client service, and innovate their delivery model. Branded "FinishLine," the solution shortens project cycle times to support faster time-to-market and multi-channel delivery of commercials and other projects. G&W adds extra value with Web-based services such as an online client project library.  

G&W's DAM solution is customized to each of their client's brand look and feel, and gives clients the ability to extend the solution outside their own organization to collaborative third parties like agencies and printers. When a client logs into FinishLine, they see a library of all projects, with all of the project information and components of the project in one place. The client can securely distribute materials or portions of a project via the system to any 3rd party or internal team that needs the media in alternative formats.

Clients and G&W internal team members store, retrieve and distribute assets online in an extremely secure environment with pre-determined access levels. Clients are tied more closely to a project, giving them a forum to readily add comments, view their schedules and access their media library. Changes during a project are adopted quickly, reducing administrative time and cost. Because FinishLine streamlines the production process and allows for quick modifications, it frees up precious time to focus on creativity and provides freedom to experiment with new ideas before projects are finalized.   

For post production houses like Grace & Wild that want to offer DAM as a service to clients, but do not want expend all of their IT resources to embark on the path, there are options that can get them on their way. DAM hosted-service providers have arisen to help these non-do-it-yourselfers. Grace & Wild opted for a DAM provider, allowing them to easily extend the solution to their clients. Hosting by the vendor also allows G&W to ramps its resources to support the system in-house. They enjoy the best of both worlds by starting with an online service that can be converted to an installed system.  

ClearStory Systems, Inc., is one such vendor that offers these options.  Its DAM solution is offered as both installed software or as a hosted service. ClearStory software is designed to leverage market opportunities in front of many post production service companies today. 

"We're seeing a larger, global trend among companies to outsource their digital media needs with hosted applications. And post production houses are well positioned to offer specialized solutions for digital media via hosted services," says Joshua Duhl, ClearStory Systems VP of product management. 

Key to success is the ability to support multiple post production clients from a single solution, with ability to brand the user interface for each client. ActiveMedia can support multiple clients on one instance of the application, making it affordable for post production houses looking to extend the solution to many clients. 

From a sales and marketing perspective, the extension of the DAM solution to its client base has provided G&W with a significant competitive differentiation. FinishLine has often been a client's deciding factor when G&W is competing for new business. When the account team bids on projects, the FinishLine offering often helps win the job because of its ability to streamline internal processes and help customers with not only rapid time to market but also an easy way to organize and manage their rich media content.

Post production houses, major motion picture studios, independent producers, broadcast networks, cable channels, advertising agencies and other organizations that produce, own and/or distribute digital and physical assets acknowledge are more apt than not to use a digital asset management application to connect with their team members, partners, and clients.  Those that do, derive unexpected opportunities, typically leading to additional revenues for their organization.