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Images Served to Order

(November 2003) posted on Tue Nov 18, 2003

A new kind of asset manager delivers the right image at the right time

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By Jake Widman

Remember when you first heard of digital asset management programs? How they promised to put an end to wasted hours searching for that image you needed, the one you knew had to be in a folder or on a disk around here somewhere? By the time those programs arrived on the scene, publishers and printing operations were starting to drown in digital images. GISTICS Research reported in 1999 that creative professionals were devoting 10% of their time to file management, with simply searching for files accounting for a third of that. Canto Software, makers of the Cumulus suite of asset managers, reported that the average creative looked for a file 83 times a week--and failed to find it 35% of the time.

The arrival of digital asset management (DAM) definitely helped, but it certainly didn't make the problem go away. The fact that the sheer volume of digital images has kept increasing has practically guaranteed that managing them would continue to be a problem. The growth in publishing and marketing on the Web is largely responsible for today's flood of digital assets: according to Doug Mack, CEO of Scene7, the use of images on the Web has grown 500% during the past five years.

These days, publishers and other cross-media communicators not only have one version of an image for the brochure and another one for the print ad, they have a third for the website. Actually, in all likelihood they have more than one for the website--they've got the thumbnail, another copy at full size, and maybe one zoomed in on a detail. A DAM system can help keep track of all those versions--but what if you didn't have to create and store them all in the first place?