Erik Vlietinck: On VanGennep, PublishingNOW and DAM

A deep dive on Digital Assets Management — or DAM — from our European correspondent, Erik Vlietinck.

Van Gennep, a Dutch developer of publishing systems, made a name and a reputation for itself with its editorial flat plan tech. Other firms have copied it but never successfully — that is, never with the same feature richness. And flat plans are still an integral part of Van Gennep’s current flagship product: PublishingNOW.

But its Digital Asset Management (DAM) foundation is what sets this system apart. I took a deep dive.

PublishingNOW is less about output management than it is about content management. That’s rare even today. Developers still focus heavily on the process of converting printed output to digital media. It’s natural, in that circumstance, to question to the wisdom of a DAM-based system.

But DAM carries distinct benefits.

One of the main issues of owning a great deal of assets is that it’s easier to lose or misplace them. DAM virtually eliminates the costs associated with losing valuable materials because, once they are hosted by a DAM solution, they can’t get lost. And they’re easier to find, too.

Typically, editorial systems are more about workflow than better search-ability. Cross-brand and publication search are often add-on solutions. But tools that let users quickly create and repurpose digital assets bring a competitive edge. They make for a more flexible and fluent workflow.

And those are the kind of qualities DAM software brings to the table. While workflow and permissions are part of any good editorial system, these systems are usually not built for repurposing assets. Few publishing systems track files for usage. Few are able to create instances off originals so that an update to the original ripples through to all used instances.

Most publishing systems do not enable cross-publication repurposing without intervention of a developer or the manual handling of a file. The central control that DAM provides enhances easy communication and allows all team members to be on the same page at the same time. This decreases inefficiencies and greatly reduces the possibility of costly workflow redundancies. DAM’s central repository capabilities mean  assets won’t be duplicated — and it means assets used for a publication are repurposable.

By their very nature, publishing systems are decentralized, at the very least on a per-publication basis. Taking out a digital file from a publishing system for a different purpose — say, a business presentation — requires you take out the actual file. It then is able to lead a life on its own.

Tools found in DAM programs encourage and facilitate collaboration among users. Centralized control of digital assets with DAM greatly simplifies access to critical assets because all users with permission are able to immediately use such valuable materials as soon as they become available.

DAM extends beyond the publishing environment and allows for control and workflow efficiency outside the publishing process as well.

Digital media asset management helps with branding because of the high degree of control DAM-based platforms furnish.  Access to the most up-to-date digital assets is admin-controlled. Users aren’t able to just choose whatever assets they prefer.

Nothing prevents publishing system end-users from using different versions of a logo, or even different images, texts and so on. Pub system makers will have to add these restrictions in separately to allow for creative freedom, though. But with a DAM foundation, this degree of freedom is as easy to configure as restrictions are. And with more statistical information and tracking data, too.

In an age of publishing flux and uncertainty, DAM and PublishingNow in particular are fascinating to watch. The coupling helps fight all the uncertainty around digital publishing systems while  still delivering capabilities the market needs, such as social media integration, local and mobile publishing, and basic video editing.

IT Enquirer has a complete report on PublishingNOW. Check out the free report in PDF format here.