Extensis Update Portfolio For 2016

DAM vendor, Extensis, announced the 2016 edition of their DAM solution, Portfolio yesterday.  The new features are described below:

  • Version control
  • Asset check out and check in
  • File locking
  • Secure, Centralized Storage

Asset check out and file locking read like they’re very similar features to me.  I would guess the difference is that check in allows any user to lock a file whereas ‘file locking’ enables an administrator to do this without any workflow implications – but there’s no detail on this in the press.  I did find more about this on their site which more or less confirms what I thought.  I would want to know more about the ‘secure centralized storage’ and what exactly this is, apart from access to assets being mediated by user access controls (which is the case for almost every other on-line DAM system available).

There is quite a long list of other features described in the press release, but ensure you read this line which precedes it:

These new features build on the rich set of functionality Portfolio is known for”  [Read More]

In other words, the second list of items were there already and were first offered in prior editions.  When companies do this, it suggests they haven’t got much new to say and need to pad out the press release with filler copy.  Looking at the earlier list, that would appear to be the case.

Here’s the quote from Toby Martin, head of development at Extensis:

Portfolio 2016 is DAM for the rest of us. It’s simple to set up, easy to use, and requires little to no ongoing maintenance.  Within moments, you can organize your digital files and share them throughout your organization and beyond, allowing everyone to find what they need, in the moment they need it.” [Read More]

I might re-phrase that to “Portfolio 2016 is DAM like all the rest of them” since there isn’t a single item mentioned that various of the competition do not already have (indeed, most of them now).  Other vendors take note: ‘simple’, ‘easy to set up’, ‘requires little or no ongoing maintenance’ are not a competitive advantages any longer: nearly everyone who you will be pitching against for new business already claims to have them too.  As alluded to in Toby’s soundbite, these are what are referred to as ‘maintenance features’, i.e. people expect them to be there and they only notice (and get quite upset) when they are not.  You won’t sell product talking about stuff that you’re already supposed to provide anyway, it’s a bit like us saying “DAM News: a journal with words, titles and articles you can read at legible font-sizes”.

If you are an existing Extensis customer this release might help persuade you to stick with them, but I can’t see anything which would convince new customers that they are a great deal different from the numerous other options on offer.  Overall, 2016 for Portfolio users reads quite a lot like 2015, 2014 and 2013 – i.e. more of the same.

One other point I have noticed in this press is the price of $6,000 (US) is quoted, so the target market is moving down towards SMEs which might be where many vendors think the last remaining big opportunity for entirely new DAM users remains (albeit one that many may find unappealing as a segment to target).  The base fee is at a similar price point to others offering SaaS alternatives such as PhotoShelter’s Libris or Widen’s Smart Image (which is quite a lot cheaper).  There are a lot of options around this price level now and if I were buying a DAM solution, I would be more demanding from vendors operating in it as you probably can get a decent deal by applying a bit of gentle persuasion and reminding those concerned how many choices you now have.

We have warned before on DAM News that if the industry does not start producing something genuinely innovative, a price war will ensue because this is the next path of least resistance for vendors to differentiate themselves and there are hints of that now emerging.  The more expensive end of the DAM market will probably continue to be able avoid this fate due to the ‘IBM’ effect: enterprise software buyers only tend get fired for spending small fortunes, if a really big fee is involved, however (and accompanied by the requisite fanfare about ‘strategic paradigm shifts’ etc) then they, perversely, usually stand a better chance of keeping their jobs.

The DAM mid-market is increasingly going to find itself exposed and prospective customers asking what, exactly, makes them different from everyone else.  Right now, no one seems to have much of a credible answer and there is a collective reliance on inertia and the fact that migrating away from one DAM solution to another is demanding enough for it not to be considered a casual undertaking by most existing users.  In 2016, this can’t be allowed to become the sole reason that DAM vendors retain their customers, can it?

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