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DAM the Plan

Multimedia Research Group (MRG) is releasing a report on digital asset management and its impact on workflow. Digital Asset Management & Workflow Management in the Broadcast Industry, put together after interviews with executives at top-level broadcast and cable networks, examines the most daunting task facing media companies: How should they handle content to ensure security and develop new business opportunities? In the late '90s, manufacturers created digital-asset-management (DAM) systems, but many went the way of the dotcoms: Copyright concerns and systems were simply too costly for broad deployment. Gary Schultz, president and principal analyst of MRG, spoke with B&C about some of the study's findings.

The report mentions the importance of upfront planning for DAM systems to improve return on investment. How can organizations best plan for DAM?

We found that a lot of facilities have gone into DAM on a departmental level but realize they should have looked at deployment on an organization-wide level. Why? Because, inevitably, other departments want the same thing. Then the organization has to re-engineer the system, and that can be very expensive, particularly if they're locked into a system that doesn't have good scalability. They have to get multiple departments involved [from the beginning]. That means getting those who don't think they have a stake [in the process] to help create the workflow.

How should an organization involved in news or sports programming look at workflow?

Everyone in sports or news is involved in a competitive business. Content has to keep getting better. As a result, [broadcasters are] looking at multipurpose output for the Internet and broadcast. That means more users grabbing content as it comes into the facility. That's where improved content searching comes in. They want to get fresh footage, so there needs to be some tracking. They don't want overused clips, and a good asset-management system will track those clips. The goal is to send out multiple versions of a story to syndicated services.

Your report also points to the importance of moving to server-based storage. Do you think that, as stations replace videotape machines, DAM becomes more attractive because content is already in file form?

Yes. First, they're allocating the money once destined for VTR replacements to DAM or workflow-management systems. Also, the cost of DAM systems is coming down. There is a greater emphasis on IT infrastructure, and that is changing the capital-expenditure process. So the cost per workstation goes down considerably.