If you’re a user of a digital asset management (DAM) solution, you know there’s a lot that these solutions can do – from easy file searching and sharing, to file conversion, to content management and analysis. Many users don’t know that a DAM solution can work seamlessly with other marketing solutions to add value, bolster adoption and save time.
A great way to connect solutions is by using an application programming interface (API). APIs are a series of code that allow systems to “talk to each other” and share data. Digital files stored in a DAM solution can be easily repurposed into other web applications and software programs through a simple API integration. But how do you make that happen? And what are the moving parts involved in developing an integration?
We recently caught up with Widen customer, Johannes Amon, to learn more about the process that ZEISS Microscopy went through to be able to use Widen’s REST API. Thanks to Widen’s API, Johannes’ team was able to save time and money when creating a new mobile app for their sales team.
1. What was your goal for using Widen's API?
We’ve been highly satisfied clients of the Widen Media Collective for several years. We use the Media Collective for administration and distribution of our various marketing materials. We wanted the iPad to become a viable device for our global marketing and sales teams, but the process of getting PDF brochures or product videos onto the iPad proved too cumbersome, either manually with iTunes and iBooks. When we were in the early stages of project planning, we looked for alternatives, such as integrated solution providers, that required a completely new Content Management System (CMS), including high running costs. One of our team members learned about Widen’s API in the early stages during a Widen user meeting. As soon as we heard the Widen API was available, we immediately decided to go forward with that solution instead.
2. What did it take to make the app real using Widen’s API?
ZEISS Microscopy already had some experience with app development for our end users with our external partner NEXT Munich. They are a very capable agency for development of mobile apps, so in the end we created a concept together with them, got them in direct contact with the API developers at Widen, and from there on supervised the ongoing project.
3. Please describe the process you went through. How did you get started and who did what?
The most important step was at the very beginning, the concept phase. In my experience, a good app or, more generally speaking, a good solution for a certain use case stands and falls with the initial concept. We arranged two meetings with the parties directly involved, which included representatives from marketing, IT, the app agency, sales marketing and the heads of our sales force. So, basically the future users of the app told us exactly what they wanted, and we told them what’s possible. We broke it down into concrete use cases, made sure to find a good balance between security and usability, and started the project. At certain milestones, I tested the beta versions together with colleagues from our sales force to collect their direct feedback to see what they liked and what didn’t work out so well, then incorporated their feedback into the development process. In the end, it came down to a surprisingly powerful document management library, with online interfaces for the Media Collective and an internal Lotus Notes Domino-based catalogue database for sensitive documents that we could not host on the Media Collective due to company regulations.
4. Was this a marketing project, an IT project or other project?
We focused on the end users of the app, so it was very much a direct collaborative effort between marketing and sales. In my experience, if you let in too many IT people or others that don’t immediately understand the workflows and use cases necessary to make a solution, things tend to get too complicated. I can’t have a solution that needs a tutorial webinar or 50-plus page document before anybody is able to understand and use it, and that’s even more true for mobile apps where your intention always should be the “pick up and use” approach.
5. What was the timeframe for the project?
Well, we certainly broke that one. Initially, we planned for half a year, but due to problems related to our internal Domino catalogue database, the project went on for over a year. Bear in mind, though, that the Widen API access of the app already worked fine after the six months initially planned…
6. Did you require any help from Widen with the API or was it easy enough for your team to use on your own?
There were two or three times where our developers needed support regarding minor problems with the API, but the Widen support always was quick to react, and all problems could be figured out in no time between the API developers at Widen and our app developers at NEXT Munich. I always try to keep communications in these projects as direct as possible and down to a minimum in contrast to the unfortunately quite common back-and-forth forwarding of mass emails, and in that respect everything worked out extremely well.
7. Did you run into any challenges along the way?
The only real challenge was getting the access of our internal Domino database right. Due to company security regulations, we needed to depend on our own IT infrastructure to deliver and sync sensitive materials, but for various reasons it took us far too long to get this part of the app right. I’m in no way a programmer/developer, but what I heard from the developers at NEXT Munich was that it’s been a really efficient and easy task of integrating API access. Even if a problem came up, the direct contact between the developers and Widen’s quick support could solve every issue and even figure out new features in next to no time. In the end, it all worked out well thanks to our mobile app developers and the support of the Widen people. We are in the process of rolling out the sales app to our regional sales force now. It is actually a great tool for our sales teams; even the early feedback with beta users was great. We like to demonstrate it on tradeshows to our regional teams, and they really want the app, as it massively eases the process to directly download and sync marketing materials from the Media Collective onto iPads.
Main screen. "My Documents" is the internal document library inside of the app. "Sales Materials and Collections" connects to an Extranet database with internal materials for tradeshows, regional price lists etc. "Products and Collaterals on Widen" accesses Widen marketing DAM through the mobile API.
View when accessing the ZEISS Microscopy Widen DAM. Search function, access to collections, multiple asset download possible.
Document preview with options to either download or send download link via email.
Want to learn more about using Widen’s API? Contact our DAM Advisors today.