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NorthPlains Joins MediaBeacon In Positioning For Mobile DAM: But How Long Before Real Users Catch Up?

by Naresh Sarwan on November 16, 2011

One of our featured DAM vendors, North Plains, released their iPad interface in their attempts to corner the mobile DAM market:

Built to fully embrace the strengths of TeleScope as well as the strengths of the iPad, this interface brings all of the intuitive touch gestures of the iPad to TeleScope’s industry-leading interface. Swipe, pinch, and scroll follow the intuitive iPad paradigm, allowing users unfamiliar with digital asset management to work with their digital media assets. The iPad interface for TeleScope will be generally available for TeleScope Version 9 by the end of 2011.” [Read More]

It should be said that some of the press release, is sailing a little close to the wind with the facts, for example:

North Plains, LLC, the leading provider of Digital Asset Management, today announced the iPad interface for their market-leading enterprise digital asset management (DAM) solution, TeleScope, becoming the first enterprise DAM vendor to commit to a long-term mobile strategy.” [Read More]

Media Beacon, arguably another “enterprise DAM vendor” announced iPad support over 18 months ago in April 2010 (including specific features to take advantage of the iPad).

I have to admit, I can’t help but feel there’s a “me too” dimension to DAM vendors pursuing the mobile market and there’s a severe danger of that old technologist’s phrase ‘a solution looking for a problem’ being particularly relevant in this case.  Consider this line from the North Plains press release:

By committing to a comprehensive mobile DAM strategy we have untethered an enterprise class software DAM solution from the data center and put it in the hands of our users,” said Arun Chandra, CEO, North Plains. “Many of the people essential to our customers’ media workflow are not with their computers or in their office a lot of the time, making a mobile DAM strategy essential. An intuitive iPad interface is just the first step in our journey to make the North Plains DAM solutions available anywhere, anytime to our valued clients.” [Read More]

Far be it from me to take issue with Arun and North Plains as I’m sure they have researched this very diligently before committing their shareholder’s funds to this new innovation, but most DAM systems aren’t used now “in the data centre”, are they?  An externally hosted DAM (e.g. Cloud solution) does not need the business to own a DC.  To use a tablet DAM client, you still a need server it can access somewhere.  So the Data Centre issue is a bit of a red herring as the client is irrelevant, you need to have a server somewhere whether you connect to it via a cable or wirelessly.

Setting that aside, the current reality is that most people use DAM systems sitting down, at a desk, in an office, at work looking for media to use for a project – as do their colleagues.  I can believe that there is a case for better integration with the digital media supply chain and the DAM system, but that’s more about asset origination.  Getting asset suppliers to use DAM systems would be great and probably save lots of cataloguing time, but I’m not sure that it isn’t more about the proximity of the system to the tool used to originate the asset that is the issue and doesn’t that imply that we need DAM integration in digital still/video cameras, audio recorders etc rather than another intermediate device?

I can also agree with the proposal that eventually companies will gradually start to phase out conventional desktop PC workstations in favour of thin mobile clients like tablets when the price gets cheaper and the capabilities powerful enough for them to both  afford it and transition users away from their existing desktops, but that might be quite a while coming – especially in these cash strapped times.  Whether they do it with iPads or (more likely in my opinion) on some more corporate friendly technology like Windows 8 remains to be seen.

Anyone who is actively involved in sharp end of Digital Asset Management is well aware that most users will experience their company’s DAM system on something closer to a crappy 5 year old Dell running IE7 (or even IE6 in some unfortunate cases).  So, I’m not sure if mobile will have an impact on real world DAM use for a number of years.  By that time, the mobile market and available technologies might look a lot different than they do now.  Clearly, vast sums are being spent on mobile by many companies in the tech sector, I will watch with interest whether those in the DAM market who are on the ‘bleeding edge’ are able to recoup their investment or if they find they need to commit further cash because devices and standards are still not ubiquitous or stable enough for widespread deployment.

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