Highlights of ADAM Software’s Media Intelligence Day 2012

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Jan 27, 2012

Earlier in the week I had the pleasure of attending ADAM Software’s Media Intelligence day, its annual customer and business partner event. Organized for the 7th consecutive year, the day attracted a good sized crowd of about 200 people with diverse backgrounds, including brand owners, IT integrators, design agencies, print & marketing service providers, packaging trade shops, publishing companies, independent consultants, analysts, and other ADAM business partners.

If you are unfamiliar with ADAM Software, they are a leading Digital Asset Management (DAM) vendor based out of Belgium. The company has seen rapid growth and while still pretty small (about 36 people) they have managed to attract top enterprise customers, such as Adidas, AstraZeneca, IKEA, Lego, and other top brands, with their solution offerings. Their enterprise customers are served through IT integrators, while for smaller companies such as print providers or packaging trade shops they offer a cloud-based licensing model.

ADAM Software’s CEO, Pieter Casneuf, started the day with his keynote address that explained how their DAM platform has moved from a content-centric to a customer-centric positioning. He also described the three phases of evolution the ADAM platform has gone through over the years:

1)      The first wave was a content-driven asset library used to manage, organize, and retrieve assets in an efficient way

2)      The second wave focused on adding a Business Process Management System (BPMS) layer to help users define approval and annotation workflows across multiple output channels and media types

3)      The third wave was titled Moving into Marketing Resource Management — ensuring marketing process optimization and campaign budget control; eventually leading to online and offline integrated response analytics.

Casneuf  compared the ADAM platform with a multi-level diving platform — during every wave a new board was added at a higher level from which the marketing professional can launch his creative moves, while the structure remains solid enough to meet the architectural requirements of today’s enterprise Chief Information Officer.

The second keynote was delivered by Mark Davey, founder of the non-profit DAM foundation whose goal is to develop and promote standards in the DAM space. Davey talked about the emergence of the Web 3.0 and the implications that has on society and technology providers. While Web 1.0 was about static content and Web 2.0 about interactivity and user-generated content, the gist of his talk was that the third version of the Web will all be about linked data and the rise of marketing technologists. The idea is that companies and governments are increasingly going to make data available, which allow marketing and business users to create mash-ups or value-added linkages. Those linkages are a better carrier of semantics, provide better business insights, and form the essential groundwork of what is called the Semantic Web (in which computers have reasoning capabilities), which has now become known as Web 4.0.

During Davey’s presentation I had to think of the tragic event of the sunken cruise liner Costa Concordia. After the collision, it took a Dutch navel engineering firm only a couple of days to take the ship’s transmitted GPS data and link it with its nautical map software to disprove the captain’s claims that the rock he collided with was not on the map. (Check it out). I think we will see more and more of those value-added mash-ups or linkages in the years to come.

Other presentations
During the rest of the day, interesting presentations were given by both customers and ADAM Software. The global corporate brand manager of DSM, a health and materials science company, spoke about its rebranding strategy and how they use ADAM as a brand-controlled ordering solution. AstraZeneca, a biopharmaceutical company, explained that the real cost of implementing DAM is not the licensing or IT cost, but the cost of changing the business. Implementing a DAM system often changes job roles and may restrict the creative freedom of local offices, which can lead to change management costs.

One of the last presenters of the day was Gerda Oppewal of Van Gennep, a Dutch editorial publishing software provider that entered a strategic alliance with ADAM Software last year. Van Gennep’s products are mainly used by magazine publishers, which are in a tremendous state of transition. Van Gennep, through its partnership with ADAM, is developing PublishNow, a next-generation editorial publishing product. An interesting feature of the solution is a flat planning tool for the iPad that, similar to the printed version, helps magazine publishers visualize page and navigation flows.

My Take
To sum up, my key take-aways of the day are:

  • Digital Asset Management is a high-growth area as companies need sophisticated systems to effectively manage the explosive rise in content, data, and media channels across their entire organization
  • Data aggregation and analytics is getting very important for marketers; DAM systems are in a great position to especially augment online analytics with offline metrics
  • There is an opportunity for print and marketing service providers to offer DAM as a more media-extensive Web-to-print solution or as a Product Information System
  • ADAM Software has a very flexible platform that can be deployed as a horizontal DAM solution as well as a vertical solution through partnerships. Besides Van Gennep, ADAM also has a partnership with EskoArtwork to optimize packaging workflows
  • The next wave for ADAM is enabling marketing organizations to get a better handle on process costs and budget planning, i.e. Marketing Resource Management (MRM)

All in all, I look back at an interesting day with good presentations. There is no doubt that ADAM is set for good growth; they have solid technology, strong management, and they operate in a fast growing market. It all comes down to execution and getting more scale, i.e. by further geographic expansion.

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