The client is a global consultancy with 15,000 staff in 140 worldwide offices. They specialise in architecture, engineering and project management across a broad range of sectors including: civil engineering, defence, education, environmental services, government, health, information technology, oil & gas, project finance, telecoms and water.
In common with many companies in the Architecture Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry, the firm has a large and growing collection of marketing assets in the form of photos, videos, audio files, visualisations, 3D models, walkthroughs and print based marketing collateral.
Prior to Daydream's involvement, the company was using a legacy Digital Asset Management (DAM) tool that could only handle photos. Marketing managers in each business unit however, needed more dynamic media, including video and 3D animation.
Many of the concepts and user interface elements were unsuitable for their use as the core product was developed for the dedicated photo library market. In particular, the method of cataloguing assets was based on a hierarchical keyword selection tool that was oriented to the needs of dedicated picture researchers. For the client's staff, however, it was time consuming and difficult to operate. Often, staff cataloguing assets would apply only the minimum keywords required as it would take too long to consider more relevant terms.
Furthermore, as the assets were not being catalogued consistently, images that had no merit other than they had more keywords applied to them were appearing in search results. This meant some of the company's best material was not being used, whilst the same photos were used over and over in marketing collateral.
As with most multinationals, the client was composed of several different business units - each of which were treated as separate entities. It was not automatically the case that media owned or licensed by one business unit could be legitimately used by another. The incumbent Digital Asset Management system lacked proper support for managing requests to use assets in a multi-divisional organisation and the only method of controlling copyright was some text containing usage restrictions.
Another fundamental issue for the firm was that, although their current system was externally hosted, access could not be provided to users outside of the corporate network. This rendered the system useless for collaborative projects with external suppliers, such as PR, marketing and design agencies, and thus proved a frustration on a regular basis.
Our professional service consultants worked with the client’s project team to design a Digital Asset Management system that supports dynamic media such as video, audio and 3D animation as well as static media, like photos, logos and documents.
The system not only provides the ability to store original digital video footage but also provides fast-loading, high-quality video previews.
To address the shortcomings with the current cataloguing and search interface, working groups were arranged to record users' thoughts and needs. This was later refined into an action plan and key finding document that would be used to help draw up a specification for the replacement system.
One of the key findings was that although a keyword hierarchy had been developed with well over 500 unique words, less than ten were used on more than two separate occasions. Rather than forcing users to use a hierarchical system where a lot of clicks were needed to locate suitable keywords, we replaced this with a structured questionnaire based controlled vocabulary that asked users to select how the asset related to the business. The following fields were required:
- The business depicted
- The markets involved
- The services depicted
- Any client who the asset related to
- The location shown
- The company's project name and code
Finally, the keywords were rationalised and only the most nine common terms that were frequently used were supplied as defaults. A full management system was provided to allow the client to later modify all criteria.
Staff found it far easier to catalogue assets using the new approach. Rather than facing an unwieldy interface of poly-hierarchies and multi-level thesauri, they were able to focus their attention on how the asset related to the business. This made the cataloguing process less abstracted and lead to considerable improvements in consistency and predictability of the search results, as well as substantial time-savings.
To deliver an effective content usage approvals system, Daydream analysed the structure of the business and took note of the concerns expressed by staff during working group meetings. A framework based around individual business units was derived. Assets could be either unrestricted or restricted. If the latter was chosen, usage would have to be approved by each business unit administrator. Assets could be watermarked, and an option was provided to block access to external agencies on an asset-by-asset basis, as the client had a number of competing agencies working for each separate business unit.
To facilitate external access for authorised users, we leveraged our extensive authentication management expertise, acquired with other corporate clients who faced similar problems. We designed a system for restricting access that classified users into internal, external and home users accounts. Internal users were able to register using their existing workstation passwords. External users had to connect from a specific location (or IP address). Home user accounts were permitted, but an application was required to be made from within the client's corporate network first. An SSO (Single Sign On) capability was designed and implemented at a later date to enable authentication from within the client's network.
The client is now able to securely deliver the full range of their marketing assets to staff and external suppliers with far greater confidence and ease. The improvement in the quality of cataloguing has enabled a wider variety of material to be used in marketing collateral without significant investment into origination of new assets or the commission of a separate system to manage them.
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