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Why We Love Digital Asset Management

Sometimes, as with all things in life, when something has been around for a long time, you start to take them for granted. In honor of Valentine’s Day, we list 10 reasons why we love DAM and why you should too:

1. They create order for your assets – Everyone needs a little bit of order in their lives, especially when you have to keep track of corporate assets. Metadata helps us find our assets easily through a comprehensive labeling system.

2. They help you maintain consistency – DAM systems enable users to store final assets in a central repository so that when companies run their marketing campaigns, they know they are always using the right images, ensuring their brand consistency.

3. They help keep your company out of legal trouble – DAM solutions ensure that the assets you’re using have legal approval and automatically tell you if an asset can be used in a certain region, if the rights to the assets have expired and what the approved means of using these assets are.

4. They promote teamwork – Organizations are often inefficient because different departments work in silos. DAM solutions enable you to share work-in-progress creative production ideas with each other, collaborate on editing assets, and with notifications, ensure everyone is in the loop and moving forward as assets are created and used.

5. DAM helps you maintain the integrity of your assets –DAM systems allow organizations to continually track assets from creation through approval to final use, which result in accurate and accountable assets that contribute to production reliability and asset integrity.

6. DAM allows you to maintain control – When marketers need to get their message out to the right audience at the right time and keep up with the mandate of marketing at the “speed of now” – it’s comforting to know that behind the scenes, there is a solution that is also allowing them to maintain control over the proper assets that they can use.

7. They help you maintain efficiency – We all know the saying “Time is money.” Imagine how much time is wasted when we can’t find the asset we need to launch a campaign. Or even worse, having to re-create the asset that we can’t find. DAM solutions help you re-use and repurpose assets you have already created, reducing inefficiencies.

8. They create agility in the market – This year’s superbowl had agencies and large companies waiting for a moment similar to Oreo’s “You can still dunk in the dark” moment of Superbowl 2013. Most people don’t realize that behind that now famous tweet, there was a team of people from the advertising agency and corporate that was going back and forth with various departments before it could be tweeted. Imagine how much more agile companies looking to re-create that type of marketing could be with a DAM system that would have all the needed information at their fingertips.

9. They make marketing smarter – If you are going to leverage a DAM solution, you also need to know which asset is producing the greatest ROI. DAM helps you track and report on your assets so that you can make decisions on which assets are the most relevant in the market today.

10. They give you peace of mind – At the end of the day, the reason we love DAM is because they give users peace of mind. By leveraging DAM systems, they enable you to reach our audience quicker, be relevant with your messages, create reaction from those messages, and make you responsible by ensuring alignment and compliance of your messages with your corporate brand.

So this Valentine’s Day, take a moment to spare a thought for your DAM. Whether you have had a Digital Asset Management solution for years or have just implemented one recently, it was designed and developed to make things easier for you, your corporate brand, and your marketing/production teams. Share the love.

Feb. 13, 2014

What to Include in an RFP to Get the Best Results

What to Include in an RFP to Get the Best Results – A Vendor Perspective

RFPs are, for lack of a better word, difficult. But it’s a common procurement tool for enterprise level products and services used by large organizations, public- and broader public sector entities, and non-profit organizations. If a vendor wants to get their mitts on a slice of that pie, they often to have to deal with these formal and often complex documents.

There are many articles written about what end-users need to ask for in RFPs and how to tailor them to get the best vendor for their needs. However, to ensure that the process is mutually beneficial for both parties, vendors also need to take certain things into consideration when responding to RFPs. I’ve been wrestling the procurement squid for about six years now, and I came up with a list of things vendors need to take into account when receiving a bid.

  • Always make sure the bid is thoroughly qualified. This isn’t just your job – in a proper bid management environment, you’ll have your Account Manager, Group Sales Manager, Inside Sales, Sales Engineering etc. all qualifying bids based on their prospective domains. But the worst thing you could possibly do is to respond to a bid completely blind to your chances. Most of the time, this is a waste of time and resources.
  • Compliance is king. In bids that are tendered in good faith, make sure all conditions and requirements are accounted for and responded to. Get all the original and relevant documents to prepare for your response – including all pricing appendices, exhibits, and legal documents – and respond to all of them in a methodical (if not pedantic) fashion.
  • Narrative is Good. Everyone likes a good story – so give it to them. If the RFP is more open-ended and less rigid, opt for a proposal that reads more like a good book than a point-by-point compliance-with-requirements production. If the RFP is rigid (as most government and public sector bids are, for example), then at the very least tell them a good story about your product and company in the Executive Summary, and possibly a concluding statement at the end.
  • Recruit and Maintain your Allies. An RFP is usually a group effort, with various subject matter experts playing their part: technical subject matter experts to answer deep-dive questions; product marketing for pricing; legal for contracts; insurance brokers for insurance requirements; technical or proposal writer for copy edits. Make sure there is communication and information-sharing among all parties.
  • Meet Your Dates! Don’t play fast and loose with deadlines. This goes without saying for the proposal due date, but all the interim dates as well – Intent to Bid, Proponent group calls, Q and A period, demo times, etc.
  • Beware the Medium. Bid responses are specified by procurement in a lot of different forms: soft copy, PDF only, Excel spreadsheet only, hard copy (one original and three plus copies), as well as the often-feared e-procurement submission through systems like Ariba. Make sure to be familiar with these mediums, and budget enough time for things like printing, production, shipping, data entry (Ariba), account lockouts (Ariba) and more account lockouts (Ariba, again).

RFPs are a fact of life in a vendor’s sales pipeline, and it pays to get into the right mindset when responding. Having efficient processes and information in place for answering RFPs not only helps the vendor but provides a better procurement experience for the potential, customer as well. When both parties are clear on objectives, goals and processes, it’s usually a win-win.

Download a sample Request For Proposal template that we have created that can be mutually beneficial to both vendors and customers here

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Terry Woo is the Manager of the Proposal Centre at North Plains. You can reach him at twoo@northplains.com.

How DAM Impacts 5 Key Trends in Digital Marketing in 2014

How will DAM impact 5 key trends in digital marketing in 2014? Read our contributed article on the DAM Coalition site.

In the face of an ever-evolving digital landscape, how are companies’ DAM strategies keeping up? DAM has expanded from being just a repository for users to manage their digital assets, to a vital tool for marketers, creative teams and business units in order to streamline and better manage their marketing. As the role of DAM changes, the article tackles five key digital marketing trends in 2014 and how DAM takes on key role in those trends:

  • More content, within the right context = more management
  • Video killed the radio star and its presence is making itself known
  • Digital marketing never sleeps
  • Mobile marketing is on the move
  • Say so long to the silos

Want to learn more? Join North Plains for a live webinar on January 29 at 1:00 p.m. EST to discuss “What’s Hot and What’s Not in DAM 2014.” It will be an informative and lively discussion: https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/895376231

5 Questions with Bob Bennett

5 Questions with Bob Bennett, Product Line Manager, North Plains

Bob Bennett_bwIn this fourth part of our Q&A series, we spoke with Bob Bennett who is in charge of product management and product marketing, with responsibility for optimizing the North Plains product portfolio. Prior to joining North Plains, Bob had extensive experience at numerous software companies including Autodesk and Microsoft.

1. As the product line manager for the North Plains product portfolio, what changes have you seen in the industry in the last few years?

There are numerous trends I have seen. The scale of digital asset systems (e.g. number of assets active in the system) has steadily increased and there is an ever growing need for digital asset management to integrate with other systems within the company or enterprise. DAM is becoming less of an island. I believe that the influence of marketing departments from both a purchasing and usage standpoint has increased, and the use cases are becoming more focused on leveraging assets across multiple channels. I am also seeing the influx of user-generated content and a growing demand for rich media to support social marketing. Mobile access to digital asset management has become much more common and search is becoming ever more sophisticated. The software is becoming much easier to use and more suited to specific tasks.

2. How has North Plains kept up with these changes?

We have expanded our scope and now offer solutions that address the evolution of an asset from its initial creation to final deployment. Rather than offer one monolithic product, we offer tailored systems that address discrete parts of the digital asset lifecycle from production and management through to final leverage. We do not believe in a “one size fits all” approach and have carefully evolved our product suite to fit the needs of these different stages of an asset as it is tended to by different sets of users. We always strive to offer “task appropriate” user experiences. For example, a user interface that might be ideal for a librarian might be completely inappropriate for an artist or a designer. We keep up-to-date on all the latest technologies and work diligently to present a modern, current set of tools for each stage of the pipeline. This allows our customers to start with one tool and be able to add complementary software from North Plains or our partners to address other rich asset needs if the needs arise.

3. How do you decide what features to enhance/build for each product?

Each product has fundamental core “pillars” of functionality that define its role. Everything we do is all about strengthening those pillars. For each product release, we organize our improvements around named “themes” which represent initiatives like improving the discoverability of assets. New features within these themes are described in considerable detail, and is done within the context of use cases for specific user personas. We rank features in terms of priority and factor in customer feedback that we obtain both directly and from our professional services and support groups here at North Plains. Finally, we assess the technical feasibility of what we want to accomplish and map that out across a schedule for implementation and testing.

4. What excites you most about North Plains’ product portfolio?

I personally, have a major role in defining what themes we will address as we evolve our portfolio, so that is very rewarding. I like the fact that we now have enough breadth in our product line that we can address different stages of the asset lifecycle with specific tools. This allows us to get very specific in terms of workflows and develop software that people really want to use. I also enjoy meeting our customers and the many technology partners we have in the North Plains community. I like the fact that this company really thinks about and invests in the future.

5. What is the direction that North Plains is taking with their products?

The value of digital assets increases the more you can re-use and re-purpose them. The future of asset management will be increasingly about helping assets flow to where they are needed in an automated fashion. Asset malleability will be highly valued. All with suitable security and controls. We are building for that future.

Bonus Question: If you could meet anyone from the past, who would it be and why?

I will go with the first name that popped into my head, Abraham Lincoln. I had a chance to visit Gettysburg, PA this summer and was fascinated by how this former president met the challenges of trying to salvage a fractured nation in the midst of an epic conflict that pitted brothers from the same family against each other in some cases. I realize that it’s a very U.S. centric response to your question, but I think he would be fascinating to meet! I would ask him what alternatives he considered and why he made the epic decisions he did with regards to the Civil War and major pieces of legislation.

Optimizing Content, Context and Visual Assets

Optimizing Content, Context and Visual Assets: The Marriage Between DAM and Web Content Management

Digital Asset Management (DAM) has become a critical marketing requirement for large companies in the last decade. When marketing strategies only involved pushing final digital assets into single channels of print production, broadcast media and traditional digital media, the world was much simpler. Today, marketers are tasked with keeping up with the real-time digital world that has expanded to include mobile devices, tablets, and social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and the list goes on.

Gone are the days of single channel marketing. In order to build brand awareness and loyalty, companies are now required to provide rich and personalized user experiences to their customers across multiple channels. DAM solutions now play a bigger role in creating this integrated customer experience by providing access and control of visual and rich media assets for multiple digital touch points, which are being delivered through Web Content Management (WCM) solutions.

WCM platforms form the foundation for many digital experiences – organizations need a place to push their content, store, and deliver their array of text and visual images. The challenge for companies lies in driving contextually relevant experiences for their customers – providing the right content to the right person, in the right context and at the right time. Imperative to this mix is providing the most relevant, approved assets at the right place and time to ensure brand compliance and consistency. As content continues to be modified, distributed and reused in many locations across an organization, they need to ensure a consistent means of distribution.

Herein lies the need to bring DAM solutions and WCM platforms together. Web Content management solutions allow marketers to move visual content through a creative process workflow. DAM solutions allow them to efficiently curate, organize, tag and transform finalized content throughout the organization. Marketers become more agile when they can quickly respond to the real-time demands of customers by quickly locating digital assets in a centralized repository, knowing that they’re up-to-date and that they have the right to use them.

The world is changing. Successful brands know the importance of delivering a rich customer experience to gain and retain their customers. Customers’ expectations when it comes to their brand experience have increased over the years, especially with the introduction of social media and the need to be able to do everything in real-time. Bringing together the functionalities of Web Content Management platforms and Digital Asset Management solutions provides the first step in providing a seamless customer experience.

To learn more about how WCM platforms and Digital Asset Management (DAM) solutions provide a seamless customer experience, sign up for our upcoming webinar with our partner, SDL. To read a blog from SDL about WCM and customer experience, click here.

We’re Big in Japan

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November saw us take the stage together with VPJ, our partner in Japan, for our first joint event – the VPJ DAM Symposium!

Held in the Canadian Embassy of Tokyo, we gave a warm welcome to over 200 customers new and old for a four hour presentation segment followed by a networking party.

North Plains CEO and President gave the keynote speech followed by presentations and demonstrations of our entire product portfolio given by various VPJ and North Plains presenters. Attendees also got a special inside look at Xinet customer Otto Japan’s workflow in a presentation by Otto’s Kei Okazaki.

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James’ keynote introduced North Plains as a company to the wider Japanese audience, and highlighted the path that we are blazing with our integration of technologies. With the help of an expert interpreter, James relayed to the audience the vision and principles that are driving us forward, and helping us to better serve our customers.

This was echoed in excellent segments by VPJ CEO Hiro Mimura, who spoke between sessions about the commitment VPJ and North Plains have both to our customers and to each other, and how we aim to always be pushing the market forward in Japan and beyond.

Kei Okazaki, of Otto Japan’s creative department, followed up with an in-depth demonstration of how Otto uses Xinet in a wide variety of facets within their catalog production workflow. With Xinet, Otto Japan has simplified and streamlined processes that used to take a wide variety of players and steps into a concise, efficient workflow that saves them time and money every day.

Then VPJ’s technical staff took the reigns to provide workflow demonstrations of Xinet, OnBrand and Telescope. VPJ’s experts showed how Xinet’s new Pilot feature could be used to make production work more efficient, how Telescope could be used to make sense of immense volumes of assets, and how OnBrand’s extensive-yet-accessible feature set can simplify the management of brand image, assets and campaigns.

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Though many of the attendees were familiar with Xinet, this was their first look at On Brand and Telescope, and they were very well received.

We then brought everyone upstairs for a networking bash, where friends were reunited and newly made, partnerships explored, and light snacks and Canadian beverages (this being the Canadian Embassy, after all!) were served.

All in all, it was a day packed with solid content, great people, and a healthy dose of fun and we’re looking forward to working with everyone we met in the coming months!

5 Questions with Kevin Tureski

5 Questions with Kevin Tureski, VP Product Development

kevin-tureskiIn this third part of our Executive Q&A series, we spoke with Kevin Tureski who oversees Engineering, Product Management, and the Office of the CTO. Kevin’s expertise in agile & sustainable software development methodologies led to consulting engagements at Lucasfilm, Nemetschek Allplan GmbH and others. He started his career at Omnibus Computer Graphics in 1984. Kevin has an Honours B. Math degree in Computer Science from the University of Waterloo.

 

1. What brought you to North Plains?

I was very confident in the management team as I had worked with several members of the team before, and was with another company that Accel-KKR had invested in. The list of customers that use North Plains solutions was also familiar — I had worked with many of them before — and saw a great opportunity to lead the development of world-class products.

2. How do you determine feature development within the North Plains products?

The first thing I would say is that it’s not me determining what features get developed – that process is led by our product managers in close collaboration with our engineering directors. Their job is to listen for problems and to anticipate needs. The solutions we can sort out internally and then validate with customers during development. But listening for the key problems that needs to be solved, the changes to workflow or functionality that deliver true value to those who rely on our solution on a daily basis, that’s the key skill. A great product manager is a great listener. Of course, they need to coalesce what they hear from a great many sources — customers, prospects, what’s happening in the market and others inside the company such as Sales, Support, QA and Professional Services — that’s also a key skill.

3. What current trends in the industry are you most excited by?

I’ve seen other markets where monolithic solutions were augmented by specific solutions targeted to particular tasks. I see the same happening in the creative lifecycle space. We’ve built a product portfolio that spans the gamut of Produce-Manage-Leverage, and each of our products is particularly suited for each of those areas. I’m a strong believer in the use of personas that capture the essential characteristics of a typical user role, to help focus development on the real-world day–to–day tasks that help people get stuff done. A monolithic solution simply cannot be everything to everyone. User experience and workflow needs to be as intuitive and transparent as possible to particular users, and there are many different types of users in the creative lifecycle ecosystem. We’ve put a new emphasis on this and I’m pleased with the progress we’ve been making.

4. How do you manage and scale the engineering workforce to keep up with rapid changes?

There are a few people that I would like to clone, that’s for sure :-) But it’s not all about scale. Another methodology that I hold in high regard is “Sustainable Development.” Through continuous improvement of our processes, coding habits, reduction in technical debt, investment in automated testing infrastructure and the like, we create an environment where is it much easier to respond. It’s a “virtuous cycle.”

5. How do you see technology changing in the next 5 years?

We’re in the middle of a socialization trend right now. There’s a proliferation of social feeds and an app for anything. Monolithic software was once the norm, and now it’s apps. I think there will be a rationalization and the pendulum will settle somewhere in between. Until, of course, it is disrupted again by the next big thing.

Bonus Question: When you’re not in front of your computer, what are you doing?

You can usually find me behind my camera taking pictures that I then process on my computer.

5 Questions with Mark Finch

5 Questions with Mark Finch, General Manager EMEA

mark-finchIn this second part of our Executive Q&A series, we spoke with Mark Finch, General Manager, EMEA. Mark recently joined North Plains and is responsible for North Plains’ operations in EMEA. Mark is a 25+ year veteran in the software industry, most recently as the VP of Customer Experience Management Solutions for Northern Europe at OpenText. 1. What is your background and what is your role at North Plains? I have 25 years of experience in the software industry. I started as a programmer, consultant and business analyst before moving to pre-sales, then sales. My career got really interesting at Informix in 1999 and my introduction to digital media began at Media 360. Hunting for a new entrant in Digital Asset Management (DAM), I joined Artesia Technologies in EMEA as the third employee and then running and growing that business through the acquisition by Open Text. I’ve recently joined North Plains as the General Manager for EMEA, attracted by the opportunity to be a key part of a growing business with a company purely focused on on digital media software and that has made some very interesting acquisitions in the last 18 months. 2. What trends in in the DAM industry do you see now that you would have been surprised about 5 years ago? There are fewer true global players purely focused on DAM than there were five years ago as the global financial crisis has driven more consolidation. The world was very different 5 years ago. We all talked about multi-channel and the ability to distribute content in any channel at the same time and provide consistency across them, but really it was only focused on print and web. The really trendy companies would add mobile. We thought it was cool to have an application send a short sports clip across a flakey 3G network to a mobile device and the device stayed connected long enough to play the full 30 seconds. No one had figured out how to make money out of that clip. Smart TVs didn’t exist, we didn’t predict the pervasive nature and global adoption of YouTube, Google didn’t own on-line advertising (but had just acquired DoubleClick), phones screens were getting smaller not bigger, and the iPad was just a thought in Steve Jobs’ large brain. I would have laughed if you said my teenage kids wouldn’t know how to use email and they would communicate with a handful of social apps. That would change on an annual basis (BBM, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram in that order), with photos and very short sentences being the main content being used. I would have laughed even more if you said my 5-year old son (now 10) would watch more YouTube than TV. All those changes influence marketers, content owners and content distributers to try and figure out how to cost effectively handle rich media in world with so many platforms, formats and devices. 3. Why should DAM be a priority for corporations with all the other IT and Marketing solutions that are also being implemented? Content and its influence on a market is at the core. That content needs to be managed as a pre-requisite of doing anything, from creating that content with third parties, using that content in a campaign, measuring the success of that content in a particular channel, controlling that content when it gets distributed, and understanding the rights around that content. Content is becoming much more visual (from images to video) so DAM is critical and a pre-requisite to anything else. However, the DAM needs to integrate into all supporting solutions – and integration requirements will determine the winners in this space. 4. How do you think corporations should measure ROI from their DAM? Corporations should be accountable for their decisions and also hold the solution providers accountable to deliver against the original ROI. The key principle is that whatever the ROI was originally based on should be benchmarked and continually measured. The recent public debacle with the BBC and the Digital Media Initiative failure at a cost of £100M tells me two things: 1) Even large corporations – in this instance, highly regulated with comprehensive governance – take their eye off ROI, and 2) Building a DAM in-house is not a sound approach where solution providers have invested many orders of magnitude more to solve complex problems. If truth be told, we only tend to get involved once a business has decided there is an ROI for a solution and are looking for a vendor. I, and probably every other business executive, strive for the situation that we are engaged at a business level and we can add value by producing a business case and become influencers in a decision. However, shame on any vendor that can’t describe the ROI and value that their solution can bring. From my perspective, the real value for a customer is assuring adoption. Without adoption there is no return-on-investment. I thrive on being held accountable for roll-out: ensuring a solution that has been sold, gets implemented and, most importantly, is adopted as widely as possible. As marketing starts to work closely with IT, this has created interesting dynamics and we are fortunate to have key partnerships that help us drive adoption, particularly in rolling out global solutions to local markets within the marketing function. 5. What do you foresee regarding the future of DAM and what should customers prepare themselves for? Remember the “Oreo moment” during the Super Bowl when the lights went out and the tweet went out that said, “You can still dunk in the dark” with a great visual image that was designed, captioned and approved within minutes? Did the folks at Oreo understand the magnitude and value of getting 10,000 retweets in an hour and what other platforms it was syndicated to (e.g. via Facebook etc)? The design, caption and approval of rich media assets are our bread and butter for a DAM system but I will retire a happy man when that DAM is integrated to the marketing systems that measure the effectiveness of a campaign so that one marketer can manage an instantaneous marketing process from creation / approval / multi-channel distribution / engagement / measurement to allow them to focus on the most effective channels. Bonus Question: What do you like to do in your free time?  As my kids are late teens and independent, I find myself in the enviable position of being able to be a bit more selfish with my free time. In the last few years I have adopted an old Cannodale bike and got into cycling big time [Editor’s note: Maybe previous Executive Q&A subject Eric Courville and Mark should start a North Plains cycling club]. I recently took a trip to watch the Tour de France in the Alps and climb the mystic Mont Ventoux celebrating cycling and Bastille Day with French, Spanish, Italians, Columbians, Danish and a lone Belgian. Fortunately my business life does not reflect my cycling ability, but climbing 5,000 meters in 3 days was a great personal achievement. Wiggins, Froome, Cavendish watch out!

Ngage: N-spiring, N-novativing and N-ergizing

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Nikon_D200_309We recently wrapped up our first annual global conference, Ngage 2013 (October 3-4) in Niagara Falls Canada.  It was very rewarding to see so many of our customers and partners fly in from around the world to attend the event. Ngage was our first global conference for customers across North Plains’ product portfolio – Xinet, Telescope and On Brand/Unify, and it easily doubled the attendance of our previous TUG (Telescope Users Group) conferences. Ngage was an opportunity to bring together customers and partners in an interactive environment that fostered ideas and information sharing among attendees. There was also a social media element to the conference where attendees were encouraged to upload videos and Tweet throughout the conference: http://www.northplains.com/ngage2013/social http://www.northplains.com/ngage2013/video/ Keynote speaker, Marketoonist Tom Fishburne, had a great presentation about the importance of marketing content, and was very well received by the audience. North Plains executives, including CEO James Christopher, and the product management team gave presentations on the company vision and product updates that centered around the importance of marketing at the speed of now while still maintaining control over the brand – protecting rights and building value across markets and a plethora of visually rich assets. A large part of the conference agenda featured presentations and panels from North Plains’ customers who discussed real world implementations and success stories of how they implemented and continue to leverage North Plains’ products. From companies like the National Film Board of Canada, to Diageo, to Arnold Worldwide, our customers provided compelling discussions on why rich media management is vital to their department and/or organization. We also had an opportunity to showcase our partners, GLOBALedit, Filemobile, Equilbrium and iBrams, and how their technology fits into the North Plains ecosystem. The domain panels discussed the various phases of the Creative Marketing Lifecycle – Produce, Manage and Leverage also provoked some good discussion among attendees. A highlight of the conference was the reception/dinner at the Jackson Triggs Winery. It was a beautiful setting with good food, good music and good wine that allowed everyone to network and share their thoughts about the presentations and demos that they saw in a more relaxed setting. Ngage_Jackson_Triggs1     Ngage_Jackson_Triggs2 Overall, we would deem Ngage 2013 to be a success. But don’t just take our word for it, here are some comments from our attendees:
  • Great to spend time with you and the North Plains team.   I thought the conference went very well, and mark my words, this is just the beginning for North Plains.  Look forward to the next global event.”
  • “It was a great conference with experienced and quality product users in attendance. I left felling energized and I’m excited to see what the future holds for Xinet and all of the North Plains products.”
  • “Very informative and a great way to learn about North Plains and the products you offer.”
If you missed the conference or would like to see highlights from the event, video recaps for both days can be found on our Youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/northplains. Thank you to everyone who attended Ngage 2013 and we look forward to seeing you again next year!

5 Questions with Eric Courville

5 Questions with Eric Courville, Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Development

eric-courvilleNorth Plains’ executives are some of the smartest, business and tech-savvy people in the industry. To help you get to know them better, and to get their perspective about the industry, we are kicking off a “Five Questions” series with our executives. First up is Eric Courville, Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Development at North Plains.   1. You just came back from the Digital Marketing Exchange in California where a lot of attendees were CMOs and other heads of marketing. What stood out for you at the show? It was a pretty good conference – what was interesting was that as expected, the attendees were mostly marketing folks, but there were also IT people and creatives from advertising agencies present. It’s good to see these different functions supporting marketers interested in a conference like this. I feel that there’s still a lot of education that needs to be done by the industry (vendors, analysts, media) to marketers. When we met with people one-on-one, there were a lot of questions about the management of assets. While many marketers understand the challenges ahead of them, for the majority, they still don’t know what solutions they need. Many would like to see a fully baked, one-size fits all solution that addresses every specific need and function, but every use case is different. There were also some interesting sessions around the need for customization like localization. Localization is not just language, but relevancy to the context. Relevancy will come from the imagery, messaging, and language leveraged for the targeted audience. 2. As a marketer yourself, how has the challenges facing marketers changed over the last 5 years? There has been a tremendous change in the challenges facing marketers. In business school, marketers used to learn about 4 Ps¬ – Product, Place, Price, and Promotion – but they don’t apply much to today’s landscape anymore. It’s no longer one message, for one audience for one channel that you do in linear way over several weeks and months. We live at the speed of now – everything we produce is distributed in near real time and it has to be that way for the content to be relevant. For marketers to drive Results and Revenue, I would replace the traditional 4 Ps with the more actual 4 Rs of marketing: you have to Reach the audience, be Relevant to the audience with your message, create Reaction from your message, and be Responsible by ensuring alignment and compliance of your message with your corporate brand. 3. How does North Plains address those issues? North Plains addresses these issues by making it easy for our customers to realize the maximum return from their visual assets – whether they are producing, managing or leveraging assets in marketing communications and campaigns. We remove the need for manual processes between different groups and stakeholders involved in the Creative Marketing Lifecycle. Our market-leading software portfolio spans work-in-progress creative production systems, large-scale enterprise class digital asset management infrastructure, and comprehensive marketing and brand asset management solutions. But if you look at the bigger picture, our solutions are only a portion of the overall digital marketing landscape. They can be integrated into a broader workflow, which include solutions like Web Content Management, Marketing Resources Management, analytics, social media, etc. North Plains’ Professional Services group does address that, but we also leverage an extended global network of systems integrators and partners who can provide best-of-breed solutions and integrate everything together. 3a. Can you expand on what you mean by the Creative Marketing Lifecycle? The Creative Marketing Lifecycle is made up of three key components, which any company managing rich media assets will have to go through. The first phase is production of creative content (online campaigns, print ads, etc.). Creative production deals with large files and hi-resolution images. It also requires a lot of collaboration, so you need a tool like Xinet that will talk to the creatives without changing the way they work. Technology can’t get in the way of their creativity. The creative process also needs to be integrated with a way for brands to protect and manage their assets in-house, which is typically done by an enterprise Digital Asset Management (DAM) solution. Our proven Telescope product is exactly that. Lastly, you want to leverage your assets. “Leverage” is using assets to monetize your visual media and campaigns – brand management, social media, distribution of assets to field organizations or partners, etc. For this area, we have a solution called On Brand. On Brand is used by the Shells and Diageo of this world to easily distribute assets and brands to different stakeholders. Through our ConnectR technology, we can connect together Xinet, Telescope and On Brand to provide interoperability between them and facilitate the ability for the typical marketing silos to talk to each other and optimize the workflow. Whether you are primarily producing, managing or leveraging your rich media assets, you need the proper tools for each of the use-cases. 4. What makes you excited about the industry? This industry is significantly transforming in front of our eyes – we don’t know what it’ll look like in the future. This creates a great opportunity to provide thought leadership and help shape this market for a bright future. We see an obvious trend where the buying power and budget is moving from the CTOs/CIOs to the CMOs. This is because marketers and companies are challenged with the way buyers are now consuming information. Now with social media, comes the required relevancy of messages and the need to operate at the speed of now – it forces creativity to build the next generation platform for marketers. It’s exciting to have an active role in the transformation of an industry. 5. North Plains User Conference Ngage is coming up Oct 3-4. What can you tell us about the event? I’m extremely excited about our upcoming global conference with participants coming from Japan, Europe and North America. The name “Ngage” summarizes what this conference is all about. At the conference, we want to engage with our customers and partners; we want to help our customers and partners to better connect and engage with their own customers; and we want the overall community to be engaged in the market transformation discussion. We didn’t want a conference centered around North Plains’ products and features, but rather a forum to connect different stakeholders in the industry. We will have a great mix of customers from the creative environment, from IT and asset management, and from marketing and brand management in one venue. With this conference, we want to give a voice to our customers who are at the front seat of the digital marketing transformation. We’ll also have representatives from our resellers and strategic alliances ecosytem. It gives an opportunity for all of us to be united in sharing ideas and best practices for a better digital marketing future. Ngage will be a forum to discuss how to turn market challenges into opportunities. Bonus question: What are you passionate about outside of work? Aside from cooking with my family, I am a big cycling enthusiast. I go cycling every weekend with friends and family, and even try to fit it into my morning routine before work during the weekdays. It’s usually where a lot of creativity comes from – when I’m on my bike. I find that the exercise and environment help me generate a lot of ideas and solutions to problems.
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