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Beyond the "bit bucket"--how DAM pays off.

The more things change, some things remain the same: service providers will continue to earn significant price premiums and profits when they identify and serve the immutable aspects of their clients' needs and desires. What are those needs and desires that photo imaging services can serve and earn good profit? What kind of technical infrastructure must photo imaging services maintain? How do photo imaging services position their offerings to address the needs and desires of clients willing to pay premium prices?

Let's start with your clients. Not all clients deliver profit, nor do profitable clients provide equal levels of gross revenues or profit. Our research of thousands of media service operations around the world indicates the first concrete step toward higher profit entails what we call profit zone analysis. Quite simply, you examine the three to seven workflows that constitute your business operations. What workflows? Easy. Take last month's invoice and categorize each "line item" sold, assigning each item to the workflow by which you delivered the item.

While this sounds simple, it nonetheless will challenge you to rethink your business. Most of our clients who have done this report have two stupendous realizations: 20 to 50 percent of gross revenue (or workflow) produces zero profit; 10 to 20 percent of their workflow generates 80 to 90 percent of net profits!

These realizations bring most operators to a key business decision: "Shall we continue as a full service not-for-profit operation; or shall we move forward as a lean, clean profit machine?" Most, but not all, choose the latter.

With this new outlook, let's look at what makes some clients more profitable. Our research of 10,000-plus media services worldwide again provides good insight. Profit zones result from two strategies: continuous ongoing improvement of key workflows (usually through automation), and providing high-value service to clients willing to pay for value received.

To earn more profit from existing operations, I suggest one must execute both strategies. Great workflows without good clients, well, what's the point?

What are great clients, and how do we attract them? Great clients not only pay premium prices, they buy more than just a service you provide. They buy what we like to call "fungible satisfactions"--a fancy term to describe distinctive value to them and their business. Great clients buy the intangibles of your service: what and how your service really helps clients. And it's not just another buzzword to describe "doing business." Let's examine these "intangibles," for which great clients of photo imaging services will pay premium prices, and for which you will need highly automated workflows.

Corporate and brand images facilitate the buying decision of new customers and the rapid transfer of knowledge to existing customers, press, industry analysts, trade partners, and internal staff. Of these two functions, I can tell you anything that can demonstrably facilitate the buying decision of customers gets the highest priority with corporate circles. Key action: Identify which of your workflows most directly connects to your clients' marketing and sales--the buying process of their customers--and market those workflows as your real "money makers."

Each corporate and brand image tells a story, usually in a few seconds, that would otherwise take many minutes and hundreds of words to convey to prospective or existing customers. Your corporate clients will pay a premium price for photo imaging services that enhance the storytelling effects of corporate and brand images. OK, enhanced in what way?

Our research suggests three principal effects. The figure below depicts three "intangibles" by which photo imaging services can enhance the storytelling effects of corporate and brand images.

Photo imaging services can use Digital Asset Management (DAM) and related media services to enhance corporate and brand images in three ways: emphasizing faster time to market with greater control; faster synchronization of a brand voice, and multi-channel marketing resources at points of purchase, with higher levels of collaboration with distribution partners; and faster time to "customerize" brand stories and images with higher levels of consistency. (To "customerize" is the process of localizing, customizing, and personalizing the act of selling images and other customer-facing documents.)

This figure also reveals what many clients experience as real pain points, but lack the conceptual framework or words to express. If you help clarify any of these issues for clients, you will discover dozens of new opportunities to add value and deliver fungible satisfactions (your source of new profit).

Work backwards from each bulleted item in the figure, and ask: "Which workflow speeds our clients' corporate and brand storytelling process? Which workflow automation technologies both reduce cycle times and improve the control, collaboration, and consistency of our clients' corporate and brand storytelling process? How do we 'reposition' these high-value workflows as 'fungible satisfactions' our clients will instantly recognize, want, and pay price premiums to procure?"

This brings us to our real point: Photo imaging services must themselves become expert storytellers, using technology and automated workflows to distinguish their offerings as concrete and practical ways to amplify and clarify the visual storytelling processes of your clients.

Michael Moon

President and CEO

GISTICS Inc.

For more about how photo imaging services can use DAM to re-engineer their workflows as profit zones, check out the DIMA 2005 Annual Conference session, "DAM Straight: Advances in Digital Asset Management." This session will look at how Digital Asset Management has come a long way since its inception. These archival and retrieval advanced systems offer graphics professionals increased efficiencies, new service offerings, and potentially new revenue streams. Learn about the new advancements and how businesses are using them and charging for their services.
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Title Annotation:Digital Asset Management
Author:Moon, Michael
Publication:Digital Imaging Digest
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2004
Words:929
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