Pruning shears may seem like a low-tech item, but a leading Swiss manufacturer has a high-tech way to stay ahead of competitors worldwide.

The case study of Felco illustrates how a digital asset management (DAM) system can help companies of almost any type to reduce current marketing costs, update marketing materials and put staff members to better use. The example was explored on Wednesday in a CMSWire webinar.

"The benefits to Felco are really reduced time to market in order to remain competitive, better utilization of resources, and repetitive work is reduced in favor of work of greater added value," said Marketing Asset Manager Catherine Schmid.  "We have less translation costs, and we have improved content quality. We are able to do much more for approximately the same cost as before."

Small World, Big Challenges

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The connection between global competition and the management of digital assets like videos, photos, brochures and advertisements was driven home by Kam Tang, product marketing manager in HP's Autonomy group, which sponsored the webcast.

He noted that a poor customer experience resulted in an estimated $41 billion in lost revenue in the US alone, as customers switched from one competitor to another, according to a survey by New Voice Media.

"DAM figures at the heart of that," said Tang. "As we're trying to give people more active visual experiences, having a central repository to act as a single source of truth across your systems as well as your organization is vital."

A properly integrated DAM system can make it easier to find digital assets when needed, adapt them to different communication channels and bypass the need for a librarian or taxonomists.

HP's MediaBin product, for example, extracts the key meaning of each piece of content and uses semantic search to locate specific assets as they're needed.

Engaging Customers

Those sorts of advantages make it easier for companies like Felco to engage with customers, employees, suppliers, partners, journalists, subsidiaries or anyone else, according to Bertrand Gillet, chief operating officer for TBSCG.

Most companies "have assets everywhere," said Gillet, and wherever they are, they are outdated as soon as the document is updated in another location.

"For sure, you have dozens if not hundreds of hard drives all over your organization with assets," he said. "And that's not the worst thing. The worst thing is they may be the same assets, or more or less the same assets, but not the latest version of the assets."

Media Multitasking

DAM systems make it easier to transform images to different types, manage digital rights and secure the content. Gillet noted some systems can also force a colorspace, flatten PhotoShop layers for easier transmission, remove JPG metadata, resize assets, apply masks, transcode videos, or even convert an image to a PDF or vice versa.

"Once you've implemented the DAM and accomplished everything possible within your organization, it is important to assure that all the services within your organization can talk and integrate with it," said Gillet. That also applies to customers and others outside the company, and DAM can provide the proper tier of access for any users.

TBSCG offers a product called the VirageMediaBin Accelerator that transforms digital assets to mobile, online or any other viewport required. He noted his firm had discovered that a single image required as many as 80-90 different versions to satisfy the requirements of all the viewports that demanded it.

Easy as 1-2-3

Schmid recalled the recent past, when the marketing department stored images on CDs. They would have to locate them, download them and revise them as needed for print, online and other media.

"Since we've used MediaBin, things have changed," she said. Today, technology stores and manages all the digital assets, making it easy to generate brochures in 17 languages and websites in 14 languages.

She cited three areas where benefits have been seen:

  1. Worldwide image and retail distribution. "On this we had an immediate return on investment," she said. "Now only high-resolution images are stored and distributed, with no help from Felco."   Users simply fill out a registration form to access the system. It is used for about 50,000 image a year.
  2. Ads and communication material. "All our distributors are able to create their own ads, business cards and letterheads without having the job done by a marketing agent," said Schmid. She noted this leads to better use of corporate identity and increased brand recognition while reducing workforce needs by about a half-position a year.
  3. Crossmedia database publishing.  Images stored in database can be used on website, print materials, mobile and other channels.  "We were able to offer our distributors the possibility to animate their local websites with Felco content," said Schmid. "They are using MediaBin to store the images for their local content."