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Demo Before You Buy – Mark Marsocci | Widen Podcast

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“Being able to actually test the system, get your assets in there, see what they look like and play with it, I think that’s a critical part of deciding what system to invest in.” – Mark Marsocci, Mariner’s Museum and Park


The digital services team at Mariner’s Museum and Park spent multiple years looking for the right digital asset management (DAM) solution. Unfortunately, this journey included a false start: the first software solution they selected didn’t support their workflow as planned. Mark Marsocci, Director of Digital Services, shared that they started to configure the system, “and half-way in we realized that it was not going to work for us. What was advertised was not what could be provided. And that caused us to start our process again...which brought us to Widen.”

In this podcast, hear why the Mariner Museum ultimately selected the Widen Collective®, and the lessons they learned along the way.

The need for a central source of truth

As the director of digital services at the Mariner’s Museum and Park, Mark Marsocci is in charge of all of the digital assets for the organization. This includes collection-related assets, and files created for events and marketing initiatives.

He said that their need for a DAM solution was obvious. “It was a crippling process to find digital assets.” They had 100,00 files stored across multiple hard drives and systems, and they had over 100 staff members that needed to use them. His team managed all of the file requests, and they were inundated. Plus, each request could take multiple days to complete. “And so a DAM became something that we felt was necessary to keep ourselves organized, but also give greater access to everyone at the museum.”

He made a business case for the acquisition of a DAM solution. “We could very easily make the argument for cost savings, and the amount of time that the organization as a whole would save in trying to locate images.” And with his senior leadership’s approval, his team began their search.

Essential functionality

Mark and his team began their DAM research by defining their key criteria. This list included:

  • Derivatives on demand: An audit of their assets revealed that roughly half of their server space was occupied by duplicate images. Every version of every file ever made was saved. To free up storage, they needed a system that allowed them created duplicate files easily, so it was only necessary to save the master file. “This would allow us to conserve our resources by only storying one file, instead of storing many files, in some cases.”
  • Internal control of assets: Mark shared that because they are a museum, data integrity is extremely important. “In some cases, if things are born digital, if we were to lose that original file that collection object would be gone forever, and that’s not an option.” He said although the Collective is hosted externally, it still satisfied their security needs. He shared, “the way we got around the fact that we also needed a copy in-house is we do save a copy on our servers internally, and then we send it up to the Collective. And each of those files is stamped with a number, so we could always go back to our internal system to pull that image if we needed.”
  • System stability: It was also important to Mark’s team that their DAM vendor had a solid reputation, and a robust technology roadmap. Further, he said, “we wanted to make sure that the company had been around for a while.”

Moving through the selection process

With their key criteria in mind, they began a very systematic approach to their evaluation of DAM vendors. “We created a matrix that helped us keep track of...the criteria of what we needed.” But even with tools like this, the process was challenging. Not only was the number of DAM vendors overwhelming, but the language each used to describe features varied greatly. This made it really difficult to create a clear comparison.

To help pare down their list to a manageable number, his team solicited feedback from other museums using DAM platforms. He said that because many DAM systems aren’t designed to accommodate things that museums care about, talking with like-minded institutions was extremely valuable.

They further reduced their list of candidates through system demos. Mark advised, “find a system that allows you to do a demo. That you can actually have a real demo with your assets in it. And I think that is the most important aspect of evaluating a DAM, because if you can not actually use the system, you’re not going to really know if it’s going to work for you. There’s just no way from reading the marketing material to decide on a system.”

Why Widen?

Mark said they ultimately selected Widen for several key reasons. “The fact that you can demo the system, the onboarding process is great, and the technical support is excellent. And to add a fourth to that, I think that the interface for the most part is very clean, and is usable.”

And post implementation, his team is thrilled to report that not only does the Collective perform as advertised, but their partnership with Widen has been outstanding. Mark shared, “out of all of the software that I’ve ever implemented, the onboarding process at Widen was excellent. And I would rate it for me and my experience, one of the top experiences I’ve had with a product. They were very responsive, they had documents that helped me work through each of the steps required to get a system up and running. We had regular meetings once a week. They were very informative, very responsive.” And further, “In addition to that, the ongoing technical support has been phenomenal.”

Listen to podcast

About our guest

Marc Marsocci is the Director of the digital services team at The Mariner’s Museum and Park. Located in Newport News, VA, the museum aims to connect people to the world’s waters, because that is how we are connected to one another. With one of the world’s most extensive maritime collections, it is committed to the preservation and conservation of more than 32,000 objects and several million library and archive materials. It also includes 550 acres of privately maintained, naturally wooded property that offers a serene place to walk, run, or picnic.

About our host

Bill Banham is a marketing and publishing professional based in Toronto. He is the founder of the HR Gazette and Iceni Marketing as well as the co-founder of the WorkingTech show and the InnovateWork event series. Bill hosts several CPSA podcast shows on topics including social selling and tech, business strategy, and sales strategy.

Listen to more episodes from the Widen Implementation Podcast series.

Topics: Widen Podcast, DAM Implementation

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