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An important part of my job is meeting with Portfolio Server users to better understand their needs and workflow. It’s easy to assume that we at Extensis know how Portfolio should work and what features should be in it – I mean, we’re the experts right? The reality is the opposite. The people that use our product day in and day out are the true experts, which is why it’s so important that I get in front of those experts and listen to what they have to say.

Over the past few months I’ve visited Portfolio Server users whenever possible and in their native environment. So far I’ve visited users in Los Angeles, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and New York City. As I’ve visited with these users, some trends have emerged that I’d like to share:

People Prefer Simplicity

Many of the users I spoke with preferred Portfolio over other DAM systems because it’s simple. They liked how Portfolio doesn’t enforce rigid workflow rules, doesn’t require drastic changes in the way they work, and how easy it is to create new catalogs for new projects that pop up.

A few users even mentioned using Portfolio along side other digital asset management systems that were more complicated because they just needed something simple that would work and could be setup quickly.

People Don’t Have Extra Time

The whole point of digital asset management is to save time, so naturally people don’t want to spend a bunch of time setting up and babysitting their DAM. There should be a net time savings – people want DAM to enable workflow, not workslow.

While some companies are fortunate enough to have people working in dedicated Digital Asset Manager positions, most do not have this luxury. Because of this human resource constraint, a common trend was reliance on automatic metadata generation. Basically, they add everything to a Portfolio catalog and let automatic keyword generation and metadata extraction be their “virtual” Digital Asset Manager.

People Build on Small Successes

Countless times I’ve heard Portfolio users say something to the effect of “We’re having great success with Portfolio, but we’re only using a fraction of its capabilities. We’re looking for ways to expand where and how we use it”. These users originally implemented Portfolio Server to solve a specific problem and are now looking for other problems that can be solved using their existing investment.

In my experience, DAM is more likely to be successful when you focus on solving specific problems as opposed to a shotgun approach. I often encounter users switching to Portfolio from other systems that tried to solve everything at once and  took months or years to implement (if implemented at all!).  This trend supports the idea that a phased approach to DAM is less risky and more sustainable than trying to fix everything all at once.

What do you think?
Are you a Portfolio user, someone investigating DAM, or maybe a user of another DAM system? I’d like to know what’s important to you. You can let me know in the comments section below, or you can email me at esmith@extensis.com.

Hopefully next time I’m in your town we can meet!

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