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SDL Partner With North Plains

by Ralph Windsor on December 11, 2013

Two of our featured DAM vendors, SDL and North Plains, have announced a strategic partnership where SDL will resell North Plains various Digital Asset Management solutions along with their range of WCM and translation products.  The ‘boss quote’ from SDL CEO, Mark Lancaster, has unfortunately let the side down a bit today compared with the other two senior manager soundbites from Picturepark and Extensis:

Today’s customer expects to be served with consistently engaging, personalized and contextually accurate experiences, where rich media plays a big role in that process. To deliver on this growing requirement, organizations need the creative and operational agility to deliver a wide variety of content ranging from simple text to highly interactive, media rich encounters. Our strategic partnership with North Plains extends our ability to provide enterprise customers the solutions they need to drive the digital customer experiences using rich media from multiple sources.” [Read More]

I’m going to have to award that a, “must try harder” 5/10 for excessive corporate newspeak; ‘contextually accurate experiences’ being the prima facie case in point.  I can think of a lot of things here, probably none of them ‘contextually appropriate’, although they would be accurate – contextually or otherwise.  In fairness to Mark, the mention of ‘rich media’ does mitigate against a far lower score.  They also have a quote from Eric Courville, VP of Marketing at North Plains which is a little more to the point:

This partnership with SDL is not only important but also strategic to North Plains’ vision of enabling our customers to better connect with, and engage with their audience by leveraging visual assets. The power of our technology combined with SDL’s solution is the perfect match for our customers to effectively manage their visual assets throughout the entire Creative Marketing Lifecycle” [Read More]

Cutting through the PR, what is particularly noteworthy is that this is two vendors who ostensibly are in competition with each other – albeit offset in terms of core markets.  North Plains are obviously far more of a specialist, pure play DAM vendor than WCM/translation specialists, SDL, however, both have considered it worthwhile getting themselves DAM Vendors listing.  As those vendors reading this will be aware, filling out the online form to register a profile requires the vendor to spend a little time assembling information about their product and for larger vendors especially, this might involve needing to email or call engineers or product managers to check key points.  It’s not usually a job you can tick off during a coffee break.

I am not sure if SDL plan to continue to offer Media Manager in addition to North Plains’ range of products.  As they (especially) are well aware, DAM is not a ‘one size fits all’ proposition, which is why they have acquired two additional products themselves, so it is conceivable that SDL can promote their own product and simultaneously offer North Plains DAM solutions.  I am not fully familiar with the SDL Media Manager to know how it compares with other DAM offerings, although from my experience, applications developed by non-DAM specialists tend to be unsatisfactory and lacking in sophistication  (which is why DAM vendors usually need to focus on DAM and not much else to do it properly).

It will be interesting to see how this partnership plays out and if SDL quietly drop their Media Manager application or if they integrate it more closely with North Plains’ range.  The second outcome would be more of a marker of a sea-change in the wider DAM market as indicates vendors being willing to aggregate their application services through an integration protocol (namely North Plains ‘Connect-R’), but I am not sure how likely that is.  A further possibility is SDL simply allow Media Manager to wither on the vine and maintain support for it but without new investment, that is really the first outcome, but it might be the compromise they go with.  Whatever your view on the possible outcomes, these type of strategic alliances with vendors that are within touching distance of each other in terms of products or services offered are generally worth paying attention to as they do signal some kind of senior management intent for the business about who they are and where they are going.

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