What Working From Home Can Teach Us About Digital Asset Management
As many professionals and their teams continue to adjust to working remotely, we are reminded of the ways in which technology can help simplify not only processes related to working from home, but all processes. Whether you’re used to working in an office or from home, you are likely already used to messaging apps and video conferencing to stay connected, productive and collaborative. It’s also likely that you are finding new flaws within cooperative teamwork – and taking steps to remedy them – as many are doing at unprecedented pace.
Until now, there were really only three kinds of companies:
- Companies who have embraced distributed work and modern workflows – These companies have actively pursued a transition of business systems to the cloud and have prioritized centralized access to all corporate assets.
- Companies who have some departments leveraging cloud-based workflows to help increase efficiency – In this scenario, these initiatives have been siloed from the rest of the business and only helped the department’s own efforts.
- Companies who have continued to run everything on premise, or rely on each employee to manage business assets locally on their computers – These companies rely heavily on their workforce to maintain process efficiency.
It’s no surprise that the companies most seamlessly transitioning to full-time work from home fit into bucket number one. Those in the second bucket are generally well-positioned and are now focusing on connecting the various departments and initiatives into a single, more streamlined system. The third is likely scrambling a bit to find new processes that help them adapt to the new normal.
In thinking about what work lessons we might take away from this sudden shift, it’s apparent that there’s a strong connection to digital asset management.
Everything Has to Be in the Cloud
Businesses today, even before the pandemic broke out, are finding it increasingly critical to move faster and be more adaptable. The past few months have simply put an exclamation mark on the trend.
That speed and flexibility is provided by the cloud. If not for the cloud, marketing teams – especially creatives – can’t be very agile when working remotely. Without the ability to collaborate and annotate and iterate on a design together in a room, they need to replicate the efficiency online.
Incredibly important here is the ability to ensure a single source of truth for every asset under management and provide a single "meeting room" for everyone on the team, or even beyond the team who needs to be involved with any given asset. Some business processes, such as planning meetings or employee check-ins, translate well to video conferencing. For those that don’t – and digital asset management is definitely one of those – the cloud is invaluable.
Workflow Has Been Upended
One of the single biggest changes for every non-remote company is that the workflow across the entire organization is now entirely different than it was a month ago. That unprecedented scale and pace of disruption has required companies to reinvent those workflows on the fly.
While it’s been impressive to see how quickly change can be affected, it’s been far easier for teams already leveraging collaborative online platforms than those looking to replace sequential, linear processes.
When multiple designers, marketers and even executives need to provide input into a particular asset, it’s far easier to all work from a single real-time asset. The alternative is worrying about version control and where assets are in their lifecycles, or waiting for email updates from someone who may be busy making lunch for their kids, in order to pick up the next stage in the process.
By automating the asset lifecycle in the cloud and providing full access and software capabilities to everyone at once wherever they are, asynchronous workers can become synchronous teams once again.
Marketers Must Help Themselves
When the whole team isn’t together, either in the office or in a meeting, it can be much harder to get the help that’s needed precisely when you need it. Especially now that kids are home from school and everyone has to balance a new reality at home, employees are finding more fluid work schedules that suit their personal lives. This trend means that a marketer might be picking up work late in the evening when the designer is offline, or vice versa. To remove new bottlenecks, they need to be able to do more of the work themselves.
It’s not that marketers all of a sudden need to become Photoshop or InDesign experts. Rather, it’s far more imperative – and simple – to have self-help capabilities integrated into a digital asset management (DAM) solution. That way, they can make basic edits to a given piece right when they need to, whether it’s auto-cropping an image for the website, adding subtitles to a product video for an ecommerce listing, or optimizing the format and image quality of user-generated content for social media.
Media Consumption Is Highly Affected by Environment
Marketers create experiences that will be consumed. At least, that is the goal. But now that customers are also mainly working from home, spending all their leisure time at home, shopping at home, and basically just doing everything at home … they are consuming content differently as well.
For example, one major concern for marketers distributing high-quality content, especially video, is that residential bandwidth isn’t nearly as strong as commercial bandwidth and has largely been throttled by ISPs to keep up with skyrocketing demand.
Whether browsing or streaming or consuming news, everything must load quickly and appear in high resolution. Even device preferences have changed, adding new complexity to the mix. In order to ensure that the media you share is consumed as intended, it’s essential to optimize for every consideration, including format, device, channel and more.
What’s Next for Digital Asset Management
Eventually, hopefully sooner than later, everyone will return to their offices and in-person meetings and traditional approaches to work. But this ripple in time is not just a blip we’ll forget about when that time comes.
The trends toward distributed, real-time and collaborative work will endure and strengthen. Media consumption will continue to grow and become even more complex. And although many organizations may resist the call to jump into the new world with both feet, it’s those who seize the opportunity to plug previously unseen holes that will ultimately weather the storm and position themselves for success in the new normal, whatever it looks like.
Milind Pansare heads product marketing at Cloudinary, and has previously led marketing and engineering teams, with 30 years of experience at Silicon Valley startups and tech icons.