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Heading in the right direction

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Anytime I read something, have a conversation or email exchange about the pace of innovation in the DAM industry and Widen’s place in it, I just think about the famous line from Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers after they started the 2014 season 1-2. “Relax. We’re going to be okay.”

I enjoyed reading the recent works by Jeff Lawrence in this CMSWire article, “Is the DAM Industry Heading in the Right Direction?” This post shares insights gained by asking some DAM users across the community about what they’d like to see in their DAM systems. Jeff's article is a follow-on piece to his two-part post from the start of the year, “A Sneak Peek at DAM's Roadmap for 2015 and Beyond,” which offered a point of view from the vendor community.

Since we’ve built a culture of transparency and relish the opportunity to share what great things we’re doing at Widen, we’re delighted to share some commentary on how we’re matching up with what Jeff has heard and shared.

Widen teams regularly collect boatloads of ideas, feedback, pain points and inspirations from our customers and we feel pretty “DAM” good about the direction we’re headed. Again, thank you, customers!

I’m not about to get into fine details with our roadmap given our agile process and state of continuous evolution (and the fact that we’re watched so closely). Rather, I invite a conversation directly with me, our advisors or members of our product team if you want to go deeper.

What follows is our response to the community-guided direction of DAM by the topical areas highlighted in the original article.

As you read this, we encourage you to ask us and any other vendor you may be using or considering how they’re responding. 

Our broad message here is “we integrate.” We integrate with many other different types of tools and services. Some are customer-facing and some are not. Some critical to the martech stack and some not. Some are enterprise systems, some are SMB tools.

As a SaaS provider serving many mid-market DAM needs within departments and workgroups, we don’t have all of the out-of-the-box enterprise application integrations really big companies may be seeking (e.g., SharePoint integration). We’re okay with that. Big companies turn to Widen because we’re agile, we listen, we’re easy to work with and we get it done.
That said, Widen customers use a variety of enterprise application integrations, including SharePoint. They also use our API to do their own integrations with WCM, CRM, ERP and more, and they use our rules and governance models to control who can interact with what assets, when, why and how. When it comes to managing user roles and permissions, we encourage you to go ahead and see what we’re made of!

When it comes to digital rights management, there are many tools built into the Media Collective, including lifecycle management, user security and access control, EULAs and release forms, encryption and custom metadata. Additionally, we’re integrated with Digimarc digital watermarking technology.

As for integrations with popular file sharing tools like Dropbox and Box: done and done. Both come standard. We get it. And Flickr. We’ve migrated multiple clients from Flickr to the Media Collective via APIs and expect to do it again. We don’t have many clients who continue to want to push assets to Flickr. There are more popular programs we’re pursuing.

Widen Media Collective File Sharing

Widen Media Collective offers integration with Dropbox and Box for file sharing utility.

As avid users of IFTTT and AppExchange, we agree with Jeff's comment asking for a sleek interface for integrating applications. With version 8.0, we've taken that step, and we're working on further integrations.

Social Channels
We’ve already integrated with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to allow for the publishing of assets direct from the Media Collective to these networks. We agree it would be cool to provide two-way communication that sends back metrics between assets shared on social channels and the DAM, and we’re looking into that to see if we should build it ourselves or integrate with tools like Shoutlet or Sprinklr.

Widen Media Collective Social Sharing

Widen Media Collective offers integration with popular social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and LinkedIn are on our radar. Really.

How many readers are avid users of Vine and Snapchat? We know from our higher ed customers that’s what the kids are using.

And Google+, anyone know if it will be around in 12 months?

Business Intelligence
This one excites us! It’s thrilling. Look for major advancements to come in this area.

Over the last two years, more and more, we’ve heard how badly you want to know how and where assets are being used, and we’re doing something about it. 

We’re already one of the only DAM vendors to provide asset-level analytics to show performance of each and every asset within the library and how it’s doing externally. This is in addition to the site analytics we’ve had for years.

Widen Media Collective Asset Analytics

Widen Media Collective offers asset-level analytics showing downloads, embed views and shares.

We’re also providing every customer access to their Google Analytics on each Media Collective site. Some customers have added their own Adobe (Omniture) Analytics as well.

Following our move to Elasticsearch in 2014, you’ll see us make use of the sweet Kibana-inspired customizable dashboards with more sitewide analytics to come this spring.

Widen Media Collective Kibana-Inspired Dashboards

Widen Media Collective has Kibana-inspired global dashboards coming soon.

And, we were the first to develop and offer DAM performance metrics with our four key ratios first discussed with CMSWire in 2009.

Beyond that, collaborations and integrations with Salesforce, Sitecore and leaders in the marketing automation space would be fun. We’re exploring those, too.

Distribution and Sharing
Again, I’m going to go out on a limb here and declare Widen is the first to place such a strong emphasis on distribution and sharing given our evolution of share links and embed codes for images, video, audio clips, PDFs and compressed archives going back to 2008. We coined the phrase “1 internet, 1 file” seven years ago and we continue to emphasize the act of sharing / embedding assets and collections.

Much like you may have seen in our asset-level analytics video, one of the primary benefits of using Media Collective share links and embed codes is tracking. The Media Collective tracks every view – even from our CMS integrations – and reports the data back. That’s why, coming soon, our focus on analytics and dashboards are such a big deal.

We've long accepted the challenge to share, track, govern, expire and collect intel on assets after they leave the DAM system. Our distribution, sharing and publishing tools, coupled with analytics site-wide and at the asset level, is what completes our story of the Media Collective serving as your marketing content command center.

Send as many assets of any size and type via email without problem. With the Media Collective, you can email any approved asset(s) or collection. Coming up, we’re taking our shared collections to a whole new level to offer collaborative content experiences. Stay tuned!

Widen Media Collective Stylized Collections

Widen Media Collective offers many options to customize your collection share pages.

Among some of the cool and innovative things we’re doing is allowing any approved user to create their own dynamic image share links and embed codes with controls for size, ratio, crop, pad, format, quality and security. This makes a really strong case for using the Media Collective in tandem with your web CMS of choice, including WordPress, Drupal, Adobe CQ and Sitecore.

Widen Media Collective Dynamic Imaging

Widen Media Collective offers dynamic image share links and custom embedding options.

We’ve made significant advancements to our embedded video technology as well, using JW Player, which offers HD and SD toggle, responsive sizing, and HTML5 and Flash compatibility. Want to use you own player, like Brightcove or Ooyala? You can do that, too, using our video link and the embed code for your own player.

Metadata is and always will be a hot topic in DAM.

We agree that newer and better ways to help users easily add and enhance metadata on their assets will always be in demand. As we shared in our recent hackathon post, we are thinking outside the box with ways to make metadata more of our friend. 

When it comes to metadata, we embrace standards, integration and configuration. We support the read/write of IPTC, Exif and XMP metadata. We exchange metadata across other systems via API integrations. We support the changing metadata across the lifecycle states. We make it easy to configure new, different and similar metadata schemas for different asset groups. We advocate for the use of controlled vocabularies for consistency and ease of administration and the value filters bring to the search experience.

Admittedly, we don’t have a thesaurus or dictionary to pick from, but those are good ideas. We shall explore it!

Widen Media Collective Asset Details

Widen Media Collective offers support for metadata standards and flexibility for custom schemas.

Too Much Data
We’re not afraid of too much data. Let us say it again…we’re not afraid of too much data! Nor should you be. We can handle it – technically and economically. Since our switch to Elasticsearch, we’re capable of indexing very large libraries of assets and data with minimal downtime. We have customers with dozens of terabytes of active storage and we’re capable of supporting 100TB and beyond. As a bonus to you, we’re doing it in a way that you can afford with the cloud!

Have a ton of archive data? We’ve got a solution for that, too. We’re one of the first and only DAM vendors to include Amazon Glacier storage as part of our core offering (with a modest fee to activate the feature). You keep all of your data in a searchable library, get at it when you need it with a slight delay, and don’t break the bank!

Widen Media Collective Asset Archive

Widen Media Collective offers asset archiving using Amazon Glacier low-cost storage service.

A Few More Ideas
We’re jacked for the next generation of media management. Bring it on! In our 67-year history, we’ve been doing DAM for nearly 20 years of that time and we’re well poised for the future of connecting marketing content.

Facial recognition, visual search, similar assets search, reverse image lookup via Google search: good ideas! We welcome the collaboration with Facebook and Google! We’re not only talking about that here at Widen, we’re prototyping it with our hackathons.

We agree, there are a bunch of interesting open-source libraries out there. We love Open Source. We even have our own open-source product on the market, Fine Uploader. It’s one of the most sophisticated native browser upload tools out there used within hundreds of web apps and libraries.

Widen Media Collective File Uploader

Widen Media Collective uses Fine Uploader for drag-and-drop file uploads within your browser.

Voice recognition and voice to text that allows metadata to be added along a timeline are fascinating subjects. We’re just not there yet. 

As for the desire for more agility in customizing interfaces, we’re right there with you! We’ve embraced it, tackled it and delivered it. Following our version 8.0 release, we allow customers to brand their own interfaces and customize their login page and Dashboard to their liking. The Dashboard, the first page a user hits after login, is a true springboard into all other actions within the hub. Admins can go all out using HTML in their system messages to welcome users, provide updates, give instruction, link to other resources and embed widgets. Any saved searches can be spotlighted to provide an immediately identifiable connection to search results. We’ve brought in an Upload zone, Activity Feed, alerts and more so you can get to work from the get go.

Our seven different methods of search are like seven different kinds of smoke, and the search results load wicked fast. Try it! And, any user can rearrange the elements on the page via simple drag-and-drop. Customize it to your heart’s content! You own it.

That about wraps up our response to the areas covered in Jeff’s article. While our message to the skeptics may be to relax, our message to the market and our customers is that we’re listening. We’re agile, we’re doers, we think differently and we get it done. We’re going to keep building DAM tools that work and strengthen our place within your marketing technology and content stack.

What did we miss? We want to hear from you. Leave us a comment below, submit an idea or contact us.

Want to learn more? Check out the 2015 roadmap post inspired by our response to the questions Jeff asked with his first article. And for a related read, check out our response to the 10 characteristics of DAM established by the DAM Foundation.

P.S. Oh yeah, mobile…Let’s chat about mobile another time. Until then, see what we’ve got in this recorded webinar.

Topics: Product Updates

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