For Position Only: Is Cross-Media Publishing Fact or Fiction?
"Fact or Fiction: Reusing Content Across Multiple Media" was the panel I moderated at Seybold San Francisco two weeks ago, and you'll be happy to know that the three industry experts who spoke all agreed that reusing content across multiple media is "fact" -- at least, within limits.
Indeed, even before the panelists spoke, I knew the data was out there to back them up. According to the most recent survey from the market research and demographics firm TrendWatch, 53 percent of design and production professionals work on cross-media projects, as do 61 percent of publishers. These are folks who say they use the same images and text in print, on the Internet, and possibly in broadcast output that is "published simultaneously."
That last bit is key: Cross-media publishing doesn't mean producing content serially for one medium and then for the next. It means strategizing and preparing content for output to multiple media in simultaneous and parallel paths, leveraging technologies to make the process efficient and streamlined.
Two of the panelists, Russell DeHaven, implementation director at Associates in San Francisco, and Larisa Sheckler, director of operations for the creative and marketing division at Eddie Bauer, spoke about how they publish across multiple media at their companies. DeHaven focused on the strategy of implementing a cross-media branding campaign; Sheckler on her company's process of publishing in the retail channel, in print catalogs, and on the Internet. But it was the third panelist, Adele Falco Long, director of business development at Rampart Systems, who focused on what I consider to be a key technology to successful cross-media publishing: digital asset management.
Where Do You Put Your "Stuff"?
Long, whose company is a systems integrator for the graphic arts industry that specializes in digital asset management, production workflow, and e-business applications, brought her message home in plain English -- not in terms of ROI and other business-speak but in terms that designers can understand. She talked about "stuff" -- images, text, fonts, and all the, well, stuff that we use every day to create brochures, Web sites, magazines, ads, signage, and so on. All that "stuff" takes time and energy to find, identify, transform, retrieve, update, preserve, and archive. With some thoughtful analysis, however, Long said you can determine whether and how to put digital asset management to work for you.
The first step, she said, is to determine your needs: Ask yourself how many assets do you manage, and how complex is the information associated with them (metadata)? Where are the players in your workgroup located? Are they physically close or scattered far apart? Do you need to preserve assets for the long term, and how frequently do you need to reuse them? Are the assets unique? How easy are they to replace and much will it cost to replace them if they're lost or become corrupt? And finally, how much do you use iterated versions of an asset, and in how many ways do you need to recycle the same item?
What Will It Do for You?
Only you can determine the answers to these questions, but you can probably guess which circumstances stand to benefit the most from an asset management system -- those that involve valuable, hard-to-replace assets, those with frequently used assets, and so on. Once you determine that yes, indeed, you need an asset management system, the next step is to figure out what you want the system to do for you. After all, there are asset management systems and then there are Asset Management Systems. You need to know what you want a system, generally, to do.
So ask yourself: Will a system help you locate your assets? Does it actually hold the assets or just tell you where they are? Can everyone in your workgroup use it? Does it support all of your necessary operating system and other requirements? Can it perform file conversions? Can it work within your workflow? Do you want it for your individual workgroup or will it let various departments -- editorial, creative, marketing, etc. -- collaborate? And can it be integrated with all of your necessary deliver systems, from Web sites to PDAs to print?
Once you've identified your general goals for asset management, you can begin to evaluate specific options, applications, and systems. Long classifies asset management into three broad categories. First is server automation. This is the least expensive option, involving customized scripting and simple tools and utilities, some of which are built right in to today's operating systems.
Next are digital asset management systems (DAM), which are one level up in cost and complexity. These are usually departmental solutions that involve the organization and retrieval of assets such as images and text. Finally are the heavy hitters: content management systems (CMSes), which are the most expensive and most extensive alternative. According to Long, CMSes usually solve an entire organization's internal requirements as well as the distribution of assets to the Web and other media.
To Buy or to Build?
The good news is that today there are so many asset management tools, packages, and "solutions" that Long says it's hard to imagine not being able to find one that meets your needs. Indeed while customization is an important feature -- and most systems will require a certain degree of it -- Long asserts that if a system needs a lot of customization to work in your production environment, it's probably not the right choice.
To be sure, implementing asset management is a daunting task, with seemingly endless choices and ways to go astray. That's why it's so important to know what you need ahead of time. Then, as Long says (and I wholeheartedly agree), it will make your job easier and you will come to depend on it. And if you depend on it and it is always available, it will be worth its weight in gold.
Read more by Anita Dennis.
Liked This? Read These!
QuarkAlliance® partner picturesafe and Quark Inc. announced today an inte¬gration between the digital asset management system myCONTENT and the newly announced Quark Publishing System® 7 (QPS®). Read More
Digital asset management leader Xinet, Inc. (www.xinet.com) has released a new White Paper by industry expert Ron Roszkiewicz, "Assessing the Value of DAM Systems for Advertising Agencies," that... Read More
Xinet, Inc. (www.xinet.com), a leader in digital asset management and workflow solutions for advertising, publishing, printing and retail companies, today unveiled its newest product, WebNative®... Read More
Open Text Corporation (Nasdaq: OTEX, TSX: OTC), the leading independent provider of Enterprise Content Management (ECM) software, said today the latest digital asset management (DAM) software from... Read More