For the international real estate firm Hines, with 3,000 employees in 80 offices, it was becoming increasingly difficult for workers to collaborate on and share video and still images related to the properties they were managing and selling. Content was scattered all over the world, often creating costly delays when a worker in one time zone had to rely on a colleague halfway around the world to access or process a piece of work.
So Hines turned to EMC’s Documentum to centrally house and index the content and make it available to authorized workers via Web browser. It has proved a boon in helping salespeople discover past work that a separate office may already have done for a client, or conduct specialized searches to find all content related to art installations performed in a particular location.
“For the corporate communications group, it really turned that group around,” says Beth Franssen, Hines’s manager of electronic corporate marketing. “It allowed them to be more strategic and provide a better service.”
An end-to-end solution is attractive to many customers, but others, including the NewsMarket’s Purushothaman, say Documentum lacks advanced tools such as those for handling video.
Another formidable DAM services vendor is IBM. A longtime player in the enterprise content management space, it tackles the rich-media challenge with a combination of WebSphere, Content Manager, and analytics plug-ins, such as the open-source UIMA (Unstructured Information Management Architecture). Because most DAM systems sit on top of an enterprise-grade database, IBM’s solution integrates easily into its DB2. It also plays nice with other IBM products, such as its grid-computing offerings.
That was a big plus for the IT department at the National Digital Medical Archive, which provides an infrastructure that stores, manages, and distributes almost 13 million radiological images — or about 1PB of data — for about 50 health care operations. Rather than manage the images themselves, customers can rely on the NDMA’s grid, which is built on a service-oriented architecture that’s accessed using a front-end “Wallplug” that the health care provider’s IT department can set up in about an hour, says Derek Danois, CEO of NDMA.
IT managers at NDMA needed considerable help for IBM consultants to customize the software so it could richly index the content, which in addition to radiological images, includes audio files of transcription from doctors, and videos of colonoscopies and other medical procedures. Not only does it allow doctors to access patient records from anywhere, it’s also HIPAA compliant.
“We’ve coalesced all of this into a highly customized instance of DB2 and Content Manager that allows us to deliver a final-and-ready solution for hospitals and other medical professions to use without having to worry about complicated IT decisions,” Danois says.
No magic bullet here
The market for solutions that manage rich media is highly segmented, and no single vendor meets all needs. That means IT managers who are ready to deploy a DAM system should consider the products carefully before choosing. Discovery, a broadcast network that owns the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, and other properties, has such specialized needs that it uses DAM systems sold by four different providers to manage music, video, royalty images, and royalty-free images.
IT professionals must also decide whether they want to outsource the system to a company such as Getty Images or Corbis, or to manage the system themselves. “IT loves the fact that they can wash their hands of it,” says Susan Worthy, vice president of marketing at ClearStory Systems, another hosted provider. Other organizations, such as government agencies handling highly sensitive information, often prefer to house their data in-house.
Perhaps most important of all is for IT professionals to closely coordinate with managers in every department that works with rich media to clearly map out how the system will be used, says Melissa Webster, an analyst at IDC. “The solutions are quickly differentiated once you understand whether it’s about supporting the creative phase of the lifecycle or the publishing phase,” she says. “Working with business stakeholders is the first thing.”