Every so often, our market changes in a major way; and each time a change happens, it brings uncertainty and a bit of chaos to our market. Often times, it takes uncertainty and chaos to move forward; and embracing a new concept takes time and patience. A new technology must prove its worth based on a set of benchmarks that the market has come to accept.
- The technology must prove itself to be reliable and robust
- The technology must make our life simpler and not complicate it
- The technology must be affordable
- The technology must definitely show an increase on ROI for any company making the investment
Before delving into these benchmarks, we need to understand the meaning of asset management. The best and most simplistic way to explain asset management is by using everyday examples like pictures taking.
In our lifetime, we take tons of pictures of our love ones, places that we’ve been to and anything else that we can think of. Before the advent of digital cameras, we printed these pictures and we put the pictures that we like in labeled photo albums and the remaining, not so important pictures were filed away in labeled shoeboxes and cardboard boxes. In essence, although we did not know it, the labeling process (date, name, etc. on the outside of the photo albums and boxes) was a crude form of asset management.
Fast forward a bit to the days of digital cameras, a similar labeling process was also done; but now we could label every pictures and search for them quicker using the computer. What differentiates today’s asset management to the rudimental ways of labeling in the past is the ability to add more descriptions to our crude labeling. An asset management allows us to not only name the pictures, but we can now add more descriptions such as location where the picture was taken, the people in the picture, the occasion for taking the picture (vacation, work assignment), etc.. All this descriptive information is collected in a database by the asset management application. We can therefore now do more useful and elaborate searches. For instance, if we wanted to do a picture or video collage for our parents for their 50th wedding anniversary and we wanted to find every pictures that they were together on any given occasion, we can quickly do so if the pictures and videos were catalogued in an asset management application by simply doing a query (search) on their names. Just imagine trying to do the same with our example of the pictures in the photo albums and shoe boxes (good luck with that!).
Obviously asset management offers a lot more features than described above, and discussing each one of these options in details would surely be a good remedy for insomnia. Now armed with a better understanding of asset management, we can now tackle and analyze the benchmarks we’ve established above.
Reliability – asset management is not a new technology. It has being around for over a decade. In our daily lives, we’ve used it every time we go to a library to check out books and every time we use an online search engine to find relevant information. We test the reliability of asset management daily, when we get accurate and meaningful results to our online searches. Digital asset management, a subset of asset management, deals primarily with our market – the video and audio industry. High-end customers have used asset management software in the broadcast realm to reliably produce their content and share it with the world for over a decade.
Simplify our lives – Remember my example above with the photos. For those who are old enough to remember the days before the Internet, we know how hard it was to find information. And for the post 1980’s generation, can you imagine your daily life without all the powerful search engines like Google and Yahoo and all the nifty applications running on your handheld devices that allow you to find answers in an instant. All of this technology is powered by robust asset management applications; therefore we can agree that asset management has made our life a little bit simpler.
Affordability – One of the reasons that asset management is still somewhat of a mystery to most of us is because digital asset management price used to be in the range of very expensive to extremely expensive; and most of our customers could not justify the use case vs. cost. Fortunately, today there is an affordable solution in the price range for everyone. For high end broadcast customers, solutions from Dalet, Masstech, Harmonics and others that integrate seamlessly with the broadcasters’ existing automation and traffic systems, ingest and play out servers are available. In the mid-range, we have companies like Avid Technologies, EditShare that offer end-to-end solutions from ingesting, editing, cataloguing to archiving (another topic worth discussing at a later time). And on the lower end, there are solutions like CatDV that offers customers a cost effective way in getting into asset management. Obviously there are trade-offs in using a lower cost solution. One that comes to mind is a more limited level of manufacturing support for the lower cost asset management.
ROI – The hardest decision for a company to buy into asset management is justifying the Return-On-Investment. ROI can be justified in two ways – direct financial gain vs. indirect financial gain.
Direct financial gain is easier for the end user to recognize, since the payoff is relatively quicker and more visible. Many facilities and sports teams are realizing direct ROI by making stock footage available online for people to purchase. With an asset management system, it is easier for these companies to catalog and monetize their assets.
On the other end, indirect financial gain is not as clear cut as direct financial gain, but never-the-less a company can streamline its operations and reaps many benefits that can help it save money and make it more competitive in the market. For example, asset management allows editors to do powerful searches and to find useful content they can use in their daily edits in a matter of seconds; thus allowing the editor to be more creative; therefore more efficient. Asset management allows teams of editors, producers and directors to work cooperatively on a common project even when they are located in different parts of the world. An example of this would be, an editor in Chicago works on a commercial in Chicago, and posts a low-resolution proxy of the commercial for the producer who is in some other part of the world to review and approve the commercial. Once approved technically by the producer, a copy can also be sent to the legal department for approval and release. No longer is the process limited by physical location or borders. Directors are able to work with the very best editors and talents around the world; all made possible because the flexibility and reach of asset management software. The business case presents itself when the indirect cost saving of not having to fly back and forth easily justifies the purchase cost of the asset management software.
As you read this article, you can think of your own way that you can take advantage of an asset management system. Hopefully, this article will cause you to take a deeper look into asset management and how it can improve your business overall efficiency.