sign that says "free"
Workers are taking IT into their own hands, signing up for free, cloud-based software to get their work done PHOTO: Ken Hawkins

Our entire company started using Slack in less than a week.

The marketing team in Amsterdam was completely onboarded within an hour, most of the company within a day, and people on vacation or out of office within less than a week.

Then our other chat applications were turned off. And that was that. 

We’re a team of almost 300 people to give you an indicator of what it was like to switch applications in less than a week for six global offices. What does that say about cutover plans and implementation projects that span more than three months? Which sounds better? Ninety days or one day? 

Why can’t you implement a CRM, a CMS or a DAM in one day? What if you could?

What's the Cost of Moving Slowly?

Gone are the days when you had to wait weeks, maybe months for a procurement approval for a software tool. While large software purchases inevitably still go through this tedious process, there’s a new procurement process taking place in companies across the globe. 

It’s a process that’s as easy as signing up with Google single sign on and clicking 'sign up' — no usernames or passwords to remember, just a click and you’re in. This means it’s quite easy for people to go around procurement and IT risk management to use whatever tools are most fit for their needs. 

The premise behind this agile software procurement is that organizations should let teams do it themselves with light oversight from procurement and IT. Chris Rechtsteiner writes about the benefit of shadow IT:

“A shadow IT policy that allows employees to experiment with new tools while mitigating shadow IT risks is a competitive advantage.”

He also cites a Gartner report that suggests companies can save up to two years by foregoing the traditional IT procurement path. Imagine what you could accomplish in two years.

What Will Procurement and Legal Say?

I once showed a presentation in progress to a legal team I was trying to onboard. The presentation was hosted on a non-approved, shadow IT application called Google Drive.  

My thoughts turned very quickly from, “How can I help the company more effectively manage works-in-progress and final approved photography and logo assets," to “Hey, will I still have a job after this meeting?” 

The next day I found access to Drive completely banned inside the company’s network. Four hours later, it was un-banned due to the apparent halt in work and uproar from others.

Getting to Market Quickly

In Accenture’s “Procurement’s Next Frontier” (pdf) the authors write, “today’s true cloud solutions are purpose-built for the cloud, not existing technology that has simply been reengineered on a cloud infrastructure .... These solutions also enable companies to operate with greater speed, agility and flexibility due to quicker access to new functionality and faster deployment of applications (particularly those that are not core to the organization)." 

The procurement path needs to adopt this same mantra of going to market quickly for organizations to maintain a competitive edge.

These digital tools are replacing traditional paid softwares that have dominated the market for many years, and the companies building them are acutely aware of how much long procurement processes suck and how they hold people back from getting work done. 

This process is slow and it’s hard. No amount of company policy is entirely preventing people from circumventing the rules and getting what they need to do their work right now.

Tech Stacks Are Going Cloud Native

Tech stacks are showing signs of shifting from the large enterprise monsters of software that have dominated our work lives for so long to cloud native applications, accessible on any device, in anywhere in the world. 

From cloud native CRM software to cloud native CMS software, more options are becoming available every day. Free SaaS applications help you do photoshop online, design social media posts and even to drop your files in a storage bucket for easy access. 

But what’s been missing is a free cloud-native SaaS digital asset management (DAM) tool for people to house their portfolios and libraries of content in a robust, searchable interface. Small, medium and large businesses use DAMs. Individuals use them for maintaining their social brand, or to manage work for a side hustle, or for their portfolio libraries of content.

Free Software Tools Disrupting the Traditional Software Market

You're probably unaware of how many companies and applications have crept into our daily work streams. Perhaps there is a lesson or two that the DAM industry can take away from these free digital tools.

Anyone can spin up a WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) website fairly quickly these days as the number of available options grows out of control. Specialized DIY websites pop up daily and fill out each and every niche. 

The “Do-It-Yourself” phenomenon doesn’t stop there however. This list is only a few of the free DIY applications already on the market:

  • ShopifyEtsy and Ebay are examples of free, cloud native, do it yourself ecommerce
  • BloggerMedium and Tumblr are examples of free, cloud native, do it yourself  blogs
  • WeeblyWix and Squarespace are examples of free, cloud native, do it yourself websites
  • Canva and Piktochart are examples of free, cloud native, do it yourself  design
  • Hootsuite is an example of free, cloud native, do it yourself social media management
  • HubSpot is an example of free, cloud native, do it yourself  CRM (customer relationship management)
  • Slack and Trello are examples of free, cloud native, do it yourself workflow
  • Dropbox and Box are examples of free, cloud native, do it yourself file storage

What all of these websites and services have in common is that something once managed by a professional with dedicated experience in specific realm is now able to be managed by a person with little to no specialized training in design, marketing, blogging, sales or content management.

A DAM Library Up and Running in One Day?

The procurement process for technology systems can be very slow, and that causes problems for people who want to get up and running quickly.  If you have the right mentality, the right people, documented processes, and a drive to make things better at your organization, you’re already in a good place.

What’s needed now is action from the DAM industry. The industry needs to start thinking about innovative opportunities for disrupting itself — things like freemium, artificial intelligence and one click integrations.  The ball is their court now, but the rules of the DAM game are changing.

Perhaps one day soon, people will be onboarding their entire teams into a cloud native DAM tool in less than a week or, hey, maybe a single day.