Widen Release Media Collective Version 7.0

One of our featured DAM vendors, Widen, have released version 7.0 of their DAM system, Media Collective.  The key new features are as follows:

  • WordPress and Drupal integration.
  • iOS and Android mobile interfaces.
  • Amazon Glacier interaction (Glacier is a cloud storage and archival system which is designed to compete with long-term, off-site tape backup).
  • Amazon CloudFront CDN integration to facilitate faster upload/download speeds.
  • Web-to-print integration with Widen’s print supplier partner, Suttle Straus.
  • Asset attachment feature for adding arbitrary files to assets.

The boss quotes read like they have been put through the PR mill.  I would have to give a ‘must try harder’, 6/10 score for the following by Deanna Ballew, manager of development and infrastructure:

With each update to Media Collective, we aim to make DAM easier to use, more efficient and more capable of addressing all the challenges marketing and creative organizations face when they manage an enormous and ever-growing collection of digital assets.  In Version 7.0, we brought improved functionality, new features and new integrations to every area of the asset lifecycle. This is truly a new level of DAM.

I wouldn’t exactly call this really ‘a new level of DAM’, however, I would agree, there are some interesting developments.  It casts a different light on this quote from Real Story Group emblazoned on the front page of the Widen website:

I can safely say that of the nearly 30 DAM vendors we track closely, Widen is the lowest on the “B.S.” meter (a.k.a. the lie meter, or the excessively exaggerated sales pitch meter).

In mitigation, Widen’s press is mostly about features and the practical benefits of the product, a trick many of their peers have yet to master (but certainly not all of those 30 that RSG cover).  In fairness to RSG, they are talking about feedback to their reviews, whereas I am critiquing some trade-press fodder PR Widen will blast out to anyone (even us at DAM News).

Getting back to more serious topics, there are a few more updates and new features in this release than some previous Widen upgrades.  A number are still essentially copying the competition, notably the modules for WordPress and Drupal, the mobile UI and attachment feature – all of which have been in other DAM apps for several years (but not necessarily the same ones it should be noted).  Having said that, I need to acknowledge the commercial realities of the DAM trade, the prospective clients often do the same thing when they write up RFPs and bid documentation that request features which may or may not ever get used simply because they have seen them described by several different vendors.

There are some general market pointers and trends for those who have an interest in this subject.  One of them is the range of their features that now depend on Amazon (Glacier and Cloudfront being two – I believe their core hosting uses AWS servers as well).  Widen appear to be effectively becoming channel partners now for Amazon, since if you take up Widen’s Cloud DAM service, you are (by proxy) using a number of Amazon’s services too.  That isn’t necessarily a negative point, in fact it arguably indicates a good deal of pragmatism at the core of their implementation strategy.  It’s more indicative of the wider industry trends and DAM vendors freely deciding to use other services from platform providers.  This is a double edged sword for the end user.  On the one hand, it means Widen have pinned their colours to Amazon’s mast and the fortunes of their business are in part now dependent on Amazon.  On the other, the risk from them implementing their own solutions (or using less financially robust alternatives) are also diminished.

I am not aware whether Widen have yet used (or plan to) the Amazon Simple Workflow Services (aka SWF – but not the Flash kind).  That would be another point of intrigue for DAM industry watchers as workflow is starting to get  into the DNA of the application business logic layer.  It might take some time, maybe years, to properly distil the implications of this seemingly inexorable trend towards the use of outsourced service oriented architectures by DAM vendors (especially when delivered by platform vendors like Amazon) but I believe there will be some significant alterations to the shape of the DAM market as a result and that might generate some new market participants who may shake up the current status quo.

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