Best of the 2016 Widen Summit

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The Best of the 2016 Widen Summit

Every year, Widen hosts a Summit for our awesome clients. And although there’s no fee to attend, the event is rich in learning — for our clients and for us, too.

You might even say it’s an adventure!

This year, the Widen Summit took place at the beautiful Edgewater hotel in downtown Madison, WI. We felt this local landmark was a fitting venue because the Summit isn’t only about digital asset management (DAM) adventures, it’s also about the adventures you experience within our Madison community. As a matter of fact, Summit participants took part in many non-DAM-centric activities, which we’ll highlight throughout this article.

Whether you missed a session or missed the Summit altogether, this article brings you the best of the Summit sessions with an overview of top content from all the Widen speakers.

Adventures in DAM and beyond

At Widen, building the experience around our DAM software has been as adventurous as creating the DAM software itself. The 2016 Summit was a reflection of that, with four things standing out as big adventures.

  1. Adventurous place

Madison is an adventurous place, a city that frequently appears as the top place to live in the USA. During fall, the air is crisp and clean, making it the perfect time to experience…

  1. Adventurous things

Summit participants had many fun activities to choose from, including a kayak trip, laser tag, and bourbon tasting. Be on the lookout in this article for highlights of these adventures.

  1. Adventurous time

We are truly living in a DAM adventurous time. This is reflected in the presentations facilitated at the Summit. In addition to being highlighted in this article, many of these DAM-centric presentations can be viewed as webinars. Presentations include the Product Roadmap, Living Your Brand Identity with DAM, Bridging Content Across the Marketing Experience, and lots more.

  1. Adventurous people

Widen’s clients add up to the most powerful group of people in the whole DAM world — nearly 500 powerful brands and 265,000 people.

More people came together for the 2016 Summit than for any industry conference that talks about digital asset management.

Now, let’s go on an adventure and take a look at the topics covered at the Summit!

Cleaning your Digital Asset Management System

Product roadmap — when the Collective needs a spring cleaning

At the 2016 Summit, there was a consensus among our clients — as there is every year — that everyone is managing more assets (also referred to as visual content).

The following metrics are based on clients’ use of the Widen Collective, our DAM software solution:

  • 17.2 million pieces of visual content are being managed across all of our clients’ sites
  • That’s a 46% increase over last year’s numbers
  • One of our clients houses over 1.7 million assets within their Collective site
  • The Collective has served 1.3 billion embeds
  • There are also 130 API integrations to choose from to help streamline processes

These numbers are very telling, aren’t they? They’re the reason why DAM software is so crucial to an organization’s success.

But what happens when all of these assets — all of this data — gets messy? That’s when the Collective needs a spring cleaning.

The Collective is a lot like a walk-in closet. But instead of being crammed with clothes, it’s jam-packed with assets. Sure, there’s room for everything, but it can get to a point where you don’t know what you own anymore. You know you bought something last fall, but you can’t easily find it, so you’re not even sure it’s in the closet. You’ve color coded reds together, whites together, etc., but we don’t always search by color, right? Sometimes it’s by fabric, weight, sleeve length, casual, formal — you get the idea. Too many choices have made things a mess.

This can happen even to the best DAM admin, especially if there are multiple teammates who don’t quite follow the same naming conventions — a strong reason for ongoing training, no?

Learn more about spring cleaning your DAM by checking out 12 Steps to a Clean Digital Asset Management System.

Adventurous things — Sunrise yoga @ 6 a.m.

We started each day of the Summit with an early morning yoga class. The early start gave us the opportunity to actually watch the sun rise over Lake Mendota.

DAM Content Marketing Hub User Experience

What is user experience (UX)? How is it different than user interface (UI)?

We believe the Widen UX is the culmination of every single touchpoint you have with the Collective. And the UI is just the set of tools to help you move from touchpoint to touchpoint. Our team wants to improve your holistic experience, not just how the product looks.

The Widen team does so much more than simply code pixels. We’re also designers, researchers, and content strategists who exist to uncover data about how YOU use technology. What motivates you? What pains and pleases you? And how does the Collective fit in to your work life? We use the answers to these questions, coupled with design, as a way to deliver a better user experience.

Here’s how we gleaned this info:

  1. Usability survey

A 12-question survey, offered to general users via Topline, was shared with a handful of companies who allowed us to reach out to their general users. We targeted the occasional user because we rarely hear from them, and we need to create a good UX for them, too!

  1. Field Study program

We also launched an exciting new Field Study program to surface qualitative data from users. In our field studies, we come to you and shadow Collective users in their workspace — it’s fun and informative!

  1. Early release feedback

Because of our Portals and Workflow projects, we were able to formalize our Early Release Feedback program, which is your chance to shape features before we launch them in their final state.

Live Your Brand Identity with a DAM System

Live your brand identity with DAM

In this presentation, we discussed what we like to call “the brand payoff,” which looks like this from a global view:

Branding Your Digital Asset Management Software

More interaction equals improved loyalty, which counts for a lot when it comes to adoption in terms of your DAM system. The more adoption you have, the more your visual content is used and the stronger your brand will grow.

A more detailed look at how to brand your DAM content marketing hub looks like this:

Brand Your DAM Content Marketing Hub

Features of maximum brand control within your DAM system include:

  •       Administration: roles and permissions, lifecycle controls, collaboration, and workflow
  •       Organization: metadata and rights, categories and collections, and versioning
  •       Output: conversions, share links and embed codes, and insights analytics

Adventurous things — J. Henry & Sons bourbon tasting

  1. J. Henry & Sons bourbon is made in small batches and aged for five years in large barrels in a rustic barn on the Henry farmstead. Summit participants and Widen team members took a tour of the Henry farm and got to taste this incredible 92-proof bourbon!

Visual Content & the Marketing Experience

Bridging content across the marketing experience

This session built on the common themes from last year’s Summit presentation, Taking DAM Beyond the Library.

Key points included:

  • DAM is the foundation to the customer experience
  • Sharing and embedding content extends it to more people
  • Insights bring your content strategy full circle

Digital asset management is mission critical:

  • A DAM system bridges your content strategy with content audits, helping you PLAN for success.
  • It empowers you to create once, publish everywhere (COPE) so you’re SET UP for success.
  • DAM delivers efficient content repurposing to help you MAXIMIZE success.
  • And it manages big content insights to help you OPTIMIZE for success.

The four steps that bridge content across your marketing experience are:

STEP 1:  Conduct a content audit and revisit often. I can’t tell you how important this is!

STEP 2:  Assemble a list of all people, places, and platforms that can help you COPE.

STEP 3:  Establish repurposing rules to get more value from your content.

STEP 4:  Leverage Insights to cut through the content clutter.

At the end of the day, the goal is to use these content development strategies as a bridge to support ALL areas of your business, not just marketing.

Revenue Generating DAM Software Toolkit

Your revenue-generating DAM toolkit

We all know that your team can self-serve in the Collective. You can create specific roles for all types of users and control all interactions with assets — giving teammates a gateway to only what they need. It’s really just a matter of how we invite them to use their DAM content marketing hub to its fullest potential.

Here are just a few examples.


The Collective integrates seamlessly with Salesforce, which gives team members a tool that they can use to simplify their activities.


The same seamless integration is true of Zapier, which can automate parts of your business or life. A “Zap” is a blueprint for a task you want to do over and over.

Other Collective integrations abound. Find out about more of them on our Integrations page.

Adventurous things — iCombat tactical laser tag

This isn’t old-school laser tag! We enjoyed intense missions straight out of our favorite video games and movies while fighting at Camp Leatherneck — an incredible Hollywood set of a modern military base. It was quite a workout!

Digital Asset Management & Creative Workflow

Plan your creative workflow journey 

There are many creative workflow paths one can take within the Collective. In this presentation, we focused on three Workflow items:

  1. Widen creative brief builder (coming soon)
  • Build and manage your forms using a combination of custom fields and DAM metadata
  • Requests are filled with metadata … we want to use that
  • Embed on your intranet site or direct users to Workflow
  1. Process mapping

Discover and document by going through a mapping exercise with a focus on drawing your flow vs. documenting it with words. We can offer this type of help to you and your teams whenever you need it.

  1. Tools for success
  • Workflow calendars, designer/contributor schedules
  • Traffic reports
  • Proof version reports
  • Recording and reporting on deadlines and task delivery trends

Remember, planning your creative workflow journey makes it more productive and less stressful.

DAM Tools & API

DAM tools, connect via API

Many DAMsters find integrations a little scary, which is why we presented this topic at the Summit. We want you to know that you have our support in implementing integrations, and we’re here to help make connecting your tools as smooth a ride as possible.

Here’s a list of some of the ways you can connect via API (listed in order of easiest to most advanced):

  • Ready-to-use Widen connectors
  • Zapier
  • Instant search connector
  • Customize with the rest API

Anything you can do in the UI, you can do in the API

This graphic shows the extensiveness of what API can do.

Digital Asset Management Software & API

The trick with the API is to determine which integrations are going to be most helpful to your team and start with those. You don’t have to use them all, but a few well-chosen integrations can go a long way in making your team more efficient and productive.

Adventurous things — live music performed by Steely Dane

Winner of the 2015 MAMA award for best cover band, Steely Dane faithfully reproduces the Steely Dan and Donald Fagen songbook. They delivered an energetic live show that we’re still talking about!

DAM System Visual Content Lifecycle

Connect the content lifecycle

This graphic shows what the typical lifecycle for a piece of visual content looks like:

Visual Content Lifecycle & DAM Software

At Widen, we’ve been expanding on ways in which we can help with the planning part of the process.

We also provide support for:

  • Producing content with our content production teams
  • Reviewing content now with Workflow
  • Managing content with our strengths in DAM
  • Publishing content through embed codes, integrations, and now Portals
  • Analyzing content reach through Quick Insights and regional Insights

Visual Content & Metadata

Metadata & Measure

These tools connect your rich, structured metadata that’s been captured along the way so you can effectively measure content across fewer tools.

Preparing for DAM Content Marketing Hub Adventures

Getting ready for your DAM adventure

When preparing for your DAM adventure, it’s a good idea to address the following three areas:

  1. Define your purpose: What is the core focus of your DAM system? Who does the DAM serve? What is important, and what’s not?
  2. Clarify your vision: What will the DAM achieve? What is the direction for the future? In other words, what goals would you like to achieve?
  3. Create a realistic administrative schedule: As a team, define what DAM system items need to be discussed weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, and annually. Each team is a little different, so don’t be afraid to tweak your schedule if something isn’t working as planned.

Adventurous things — group workshop: The Power Question with Traci Fenton

Traci Fenton ended the Summit with a group workshop on “The Power Question.” What’s “The Power Question?” It’s simple: What would you do if you weren’t afraid? This question has had a dramatic impact on helping people address fear, get unstuck, think big, and move forward at work and in all areas of life. This was an inspiring way to end the conference!

The Hitchhikers Guide to User Engagement

The hitchhiker’s guide to user engagement

In this session, we covered three main objectives:

  1. Identify your audiences and their needs

When engaging your users, it’s critical to know them — who they are, their role, their motivations, and why they DO or DO NOT use the Collective. This is what we will refer to as “know your hitchhiker.”

  1. Overcome roadblocks with different tools and techniques

Once you’ve determined your users’ needs and roadblocks, the next step is understanding all of the tools, techniques, and resources that can lead to improving engagement with users. We’ll refer to this as your emergency roadside kit.

  1. Map your hitchhiker’s guide

Once you know your hitchhiker and have assembled your emergency roadside kit, you’ll need to match the right tool with the right user. Simply put, you can’t fix a flat tire with a hammer or charge your car battery with a blow dryer. You need to tackle certain problems with specific tools. In our last activity, we performed some role playing exercises to implement each strategy, which jumpstarted creation of the hitchhiker's guide to user engagement for participants.

Thank you for checking out our best of the 2016 Widen Summit recap!

Get in touch

If you have any questions, or would like to discuss the Widen Collective further, feel free to contact Widen anytime.

2016 Summit webinar series

For more in-depth information about each of the presentations we’ve recapped, check out our webinars page. We’re releasing a webinar each week that highlights one topic from the Summit.

Topics: Events, Widen Summit

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