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The New Wave in Digital Asset Management Hosted Solutions

By Margaret Biegle, Staff Writer

Whether it's termed OnDemand, OnPremise, or SAAS, hosted IT services providing digital asset management capabilities are an end in themselves—a deployment alternative that avoids infrastructure costs or related in-house IT staff necessary to manage an enterprise system.  Hosted solutions are often a way to gain critical capabilities quickly while they build out their infrastructure, or a proof of concept to help them refine their requirements and demonstrate ROI.   However you view it, hosted IT services offer significant advantages to companies with constrained IT resources (both in terms of staff and budget).
One such company, ClearStory Systems, has recently announced this May its ActiveMedia system will be made available as a software as service (SaaS), offering affordable, hosted DAM services.  The company is now offering three ActiveMedia-based service plans for marketing workgroups, departments, and larger enterprise organizations, starting at $100 per user per month. 
The services are tiered depending on usage and price, ActiveMedia Essentials will offer basic marketing services for workgroups in small organizations of 5 to 10 users. ActiveMedia Professional will support larger marketing departments of 10 to 20 users and includes full access to ActiveMedia's standard work flow automation features. ActiveMedia Essentials and ActiveMedia Professional also provide fixed-fee deployment services and application training that ensure successful and rapid deployments. ActiveMedia Enterprise expands upon ActiveMedia Professional by increasing the number of users and storage, typically required by larger enterprise and global marketing organizations, and including options for full text search of document assets and enterprise-class video processing.
Either way, these new Software as a Service DAM offerings from ClearStory Systems, will certainly provide significant advantages to companies with constrained IT resources (both in terms of staff and budget). 
It terms of what to look for when choosing an enterprise digital asset management (DAM) product, a system that is available on both a hosted and installed basis provides “best of both worlds” flexibility. However, this benefit can only be gained if the system is fully browser based, with full user functionality and consistent user experience whether it is hosted or installed. Furthermore, customers need to make sure they have the option to seamlessly transition from a hosted to an in-house solution to accommodate changing business models without interruption.
When it comes to hosted services, it is critical for the solution to pass every test of functionality, security, availability, and scalability. ClearStory is the only company that offers a DAM product on both a hosted and installed basis. Many companies choose to deploy an installed solution, however, many more do not have the infrastructure or related in-house IT staff to manage enterprise systems.  ClearStory’s hosted services are designed for quick deployment, persistent performance, and rapid ROI. By providing a hosted service, the service provider assumes the burden of maintaining and upgrading the system, providing the expertise to manage and operate it, and taking responsibility for security and availability. These represent real labor investments that companies may prefer not to make themselves. In that case, going the hosted route on a permanent basis makes the most sense.
What is exciting about ClearStory's new hosted software as a service offering is that it can be up-and-running in days rather than months and gives customers the advantage of enterprise DAM technology at an affordable price. ActiveMedia SaaS solutions make any organization's marketing operations more competitive at a fraction of the cost by helping to centralize brand content with on-demand delivery ability.
"Managing the vast amount of digital media assets is a huge and costly undertaking for many smaller businesses, which is why a simple, hosted DAM is such an attractive, timely and highly cost-effective alternative," commented Mukul Krishna, Global Program Director for Digital Media at Frost and Sullivan. Krishna added, "And for larger organizations with marketing departments that are aggressively seeking to improve efficiencies, the marketing communications supply-chain becomes ripe for strategies such as hosted DAM."
For companies that ultimately want to have a DAM solution in-house, often find it advantageous to start out with a hosted service because it can help IT teams build the business case for resource allocation by demonstrating the solution’s effectiveness and ability to provide ROI potential. This prevents the delays that can occur while struggling to achieve buy-in, which can result in significant losses and missed opportunities.  Another key advantage is that it can facilitate buy-in among multiple departments and enables a “pay as you go” pricing model for pilot projects. This allows a company to begin with a small project to refine requirements and processes before launching the deployment on a larger scale. The delays incurred by struggling to achieve buy-in and bringing employees up to speed can result in significant losses and missed opportunities.
Once implemented, the customer can have complete control of the system through a non-technical, web-based interface. The system should easily accommodate the addition of new users, metadata definitions, other rich media assets, expanded storage, and other administrative changes. And internal system administrators should be able to make these changes independent of the hosted service provider.
As one of the few DAM software makers to manage their own hosting center, ClearStory has proven experience deploying enterprise DAM for a range of solutions such as brand management, video management, stock footage libraries, and marketing content management for leading companies like National Geographic Channels, Smuckers, Dupont, Invista, Mannington Mills, TAC, Western Union, Raytheon and many others.
With ClearStory’s SAAS offering, companies can focus their attention and resources on their core business activities, rather than managing and maintaining an installed application. Companies can save time and money on IT investments, and bring new products and services to market more quickly.  More information is available at
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