How does DAM change the status quo?
It digitizes the flow of work, from the conceptualization of an idea, or the creation of a particular ad, all the way through to the rough cuts and the process of actually creating those ads, down to the final delivery of those ads to the network for broadcast. For example, look at the producers who digitally put their storyboards together. They're creating a storyboard for a commercial spot, laying it out, digitally sending it to people all over the country over the Internet, as opposed to sending it via courier or overnight mail. Or, consider the rough-cut process. You have 12 different versions of a commercial that 12 different people have to view, right? Typically, you make all the duplicates and then send them out. Now, we do it digitally in an area we call "The Screening Room"a place in cyberspace to go to watch that ad or hear that radio spot or see that print ad being made.
Another aspect of the digital workflow that we have up and running as part of our DAM program and strategy is the back end. When we go to the [television] networks to clear a commercial for broadcast and make sure there aren't any legal issues and that we can air it, we're hoping to be able to zap it there digitally. We're testing a prototype of this with one of the big networks right now. We created a digital exchange that zaps the commercial to them along with an electronic form that they can return to us with any comments, rather than how they do it nowsending tapes back and forth. This site is up, it's been built and we hope to have it working in a few months. It means we'll get product out the door faster and save a lot of money. If you can give somebody a URL and a password and tell them to go to a site where people on both coasts can look at something together, in real time, it sure beats having to phone them up to ask if they got a package in the mail, and then maybe spending hours tracking it down before you can even start talking about it.
What advice would you give to CIOs?
Over the past seven years, I've studied all types of digital workflow integrations and digital asset management systems, and I've found a couple of things. One recipe for failure is to have it become an IT integration and not a business integration project.
The other big problem is that people don't define the scope in such a way that they actually get a working system up in a reasonable period of time and then allow it to evolve. The first reaction everybody has is, let's get everything in there. But when you show executives the cost of doing something all at once, they usually back off. I've seen so many failed implementations where companies spent two years or more focusing first on converting everything to digital format. The danger? You can't find things because the metadata isn't correctthe information associated with an ad, like when it first aired, who the producer was, who the talent was and so on. When we set up our system, we made sure to get the metadata in the file from the beginning, and then assigned a full-time librarian who checks that the metadata is all there and accurate.
How did you make the business case?
We studied all the costs of doing business. What were we spending on duplication? On shuttling tapes all over the country? We wanted to understand what our creative costs were from the point the ad was approved to the minute it aired. I can tell you this, it was eye-opening. The money we're saving in courier charges alone, hundreds of thousands of dollars, has paid for the system we've implemented, and we're just getting started. When we first brought the business groups together to start talking about this, we didn't show them any tools. We asked them to talk about the way they work. We found that we had all these different groups that were part of the creative process, and we were amazed to find that all these groups did similar things but never communicated, and didn't use the same tools.
So the big key to success here is to see this not as a technology integration but as a business innovation. It's really about innovating the way the business operates and works.
My advice: Don't fall in love with the technology, like a technologist typically does. Put your IT hat on the side and go out there and study the business and it will help you understand what you actually need to implement.
How does DAM affect your relationship with clients?
With the current economy, you need that competitive edge any way you can get it. A lot of the efficiencies we gain from the DAM system benefit BBDO directly, in terms of workflow, in the sense that we're able to move our products around faster for less money.