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Publishing Evolves Toward Integration of Content, Process

Publishing executives find their industry at a crossroads. They face a common dilemma: expanding or maintaining an elusive audience with an ever-shrinking operating budget. Among the biggest challenges is the need to enable content reuse in order to reach a more targeted readership through narrowcasts via ever-expanding communication channels (print, online, wireless, etc.).

Executives also are forced to concurrently minimize the time and cost of the creation, production and distribution process. Compounding matters, the management of rights, permissions and usage of licensed and owned content can be, at best, a new revenue stream, or at worst, a huge liability.

Publishing executives crave cost-effective, powerful cross-media tools not only to better manage and integrate the content from their desktop creation suites, but also to drive down the cost of the entire publishing process. This has been one of the promises of cross-media publishing.

Combining content and process. Many publishers use digital asset management solutions simply as a storage area for images, text and other multimedia formats. But as publishing evolves, DAM is morphing from a “digital parking lot” into a much more sophisticated and enabling technology. It is becoming a central part of the multichannel publishing workflow.

Enterprise DAM brings intelligence to publishing content by centrally managing its storage, retrieval and transformation at an increasingly granular level. These files and their elements (text, illustrations, images, etc.) can be stored and retrieved in numerous publishing layouts, which then can be reused in other print or Web properties, syndicated to business partners and delivered digitally to consumers via e-mail or wireless devices.

On the other end, process management (PM) tools automate the control and management of multiple manual workflows, minimizing the time and cost of the entire ad/editorial process from planning and creation to production and distribution.

An integrated DAM and PM solution provides a platform to collectively manage the task of content creation, production, storage and delivery. By offering a powerful PM system integrated with popular desktop production tools and coupled with a content-agnostic, central DAM platform, content can be produced once with the ability to easily find and repurpose it across all communication channels.

Through a single integrated solution and centralized process, publishers not only can reduce time to market, but also generate new readership and revenue opportunities through new media channels and more targeted delivery.

Evaluating multichannel publishing solutions. With several vendors recently announcing multichannel solutions, publishing executives should evaluate not only the products for the latest features, but also the vendor behind them. Factors to consider include:

· Focused core business with format-agnostic support. If you are looking at vendors for a multichannel publishing system, then developing digital asset and publishing process management technology should be their core business, not an add-on to other products they produce, such as desktop creative tools or general-purpose enterprise content management technology.

A comprehensive solution needs to offer format-agnostic support for all popular tools used in the publishing process. This is essential to manage the multitude of varied platforms and file formats used today in the creative workflow.

· An extensive solutions partner network. As with the saying, “You can judge a person by the friends he keeps,” the same applies to multichannel publishing technology vendors. Selection by leading solution providers is a sure indicator of whether a company and its products deliver on their promises of technical innovation and customer care.

· Partnership extension beyond tech support and customer service. Many publishing professionals have customer service and tech support horror stories, only made worse by vendor arrogance. Worthy vendors understand that customers are critical partners, and these partnership relationships need to be understood and nurtured.

· Vendor reputation and credible customer references. Reputation is what opens doors – and closes them. Vendors with good (and bad) reputations generally are deserved. Before signing on the dotted line, ensure that this is the least of your worries. With any job, select vendors with top-notch references able to discuss their results.

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