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Mixed Reality is the new AR / VR

mixed reality photo

A woman in a pretty light blue coat approaches the gate to ask why the instruction on the digital display says “Gate Closing” in red while clearly no one has boarded the plane yet. Tweet this: Mixed Reality is the new AR / VR.

My mother sits in her room on the IP phone not able to hear me because she can’t remember to put her hearing aids in. My wife texts me by mistake.  And all the while I listen to Lang Lang streaming on Spotify as the queue shortens and today’s London travellers hand over their passports for a scan before getting on the flight back to Dublin.

Mixed Reality

This is my mixed reality.  It’s a reality that has washed over me without so much as a pause to acknowledge it.  It’s a mixed reality that fuses physical life with digital.  If someone had showed it in a presentation on the Mad Men Series, the brands being pitched would have looked on in disbelief.

And it’s only the beginning.  It’s a far cry from what Nestlé’s Chief Digital Operations Officer Filippo Catalano imagined when he spoke to us at the DAM Europe Conference in London last week.

Filippo gave us a multi-media glimpse of a world where Augmented Reality merges with Virtual Reality and Real Reality that had us wondering if Jamie Oliver was going to make us dinner or not.  Kit Kats came to life, a housewife asked Alexa (or Siri or someone) how to make dinner and up popped a recipe on the kitchen island along with a demonstration video.

Digital Asset Management

When I was preparing to travel to DAM Europe I was told by a friend that it would be a small crowd of very bright librarians and tech junkies who were intent on ordering our lives.  Marketers – not the ones driving around in flash cars and drinking Krystal – the ones who wear real specs moved quietly and calmly about their business striking up conversations wondering how they can magic single video assets into thousands.  Oh – and then they have the small problem of distribution in 140 different countries and 42 different languages without actually adding to their team of 5 geniuses.

I had the pleasure of being introduced to or meeting most of the DAM family.  I say family as there were only about 300 people made up of 15 DAM businesses, a couple of consultancies (who appear to work on every significant installation) and some of the biggest brands in the world like Nestlé and Ford and Geox.

It’s a DAM Family

The DAM family is close. You don’t just rock up and get to break bread without a little scepticism.  You have to prove your pedigree.  I had the pleasure first to meet ICP – perhaps the best established consultancy in the business.  They have long relationships with their clients and are fiercely proud of the fact that they are technology agnostic.  I agreed with Victor Lebon, the lead strategist, that we would work towards establishing why and how it is that video needs to be better represented by the DAM vendors.

I spoke with Fotoware, a slick outfit from Norway that has been in the business for 20+ years about their plans for video.  While I was talking with the CEO one of the others piped up to say that they were about to release a suite of online edit tools. Not sure if that was letting the cat out of the bag, but we both agreed that even though they were going to do something around cloud editing that it was a big risk as there was no reason to compete against Adobe.  When it comes to editing it is all or nothing.

Peter from Nuxeo told me about plans to expand their offering and how the modular cloud offering had caught the eyes of Goldman Sachs and led to a $30mm raise recently.  Head of Product Uri Kogan gave an impressive look at the future of cloud DAM and the team eagerly awaited the return of their CEO from New York.  Certainly Nuxeo are ones to watch.

Across the floor and Widen, a family business from the mid-Western United States told me how they are expanding into Europe while looking to open premises in London and/or Dublin. I offered to introduce them to the London based Irish Development Agency who specialised in putting people on the ground in both places.  Later I had lunch with two of their clients – one London based and one Dublin based – who were both such loyal advocates that I asked them why they were attending conference at all.  They had both agreed that they would never leave Widen.  But they were interested in a hybrid approach to DAM integration with other platforms that could add value.

Theresa Regli from KlarisIP sat on a number of panels and asked the tough questions.  Her book published last year is considered a must read if you want to know why digital asset management is relevant to us all going forward.

Finally I had a chance to talk to Webdam – a Shutterstock company. We laughed when I told them about my apprehension about attending the conference.  Prior to arriving at the Radisson in London I did my homework on the sponsors and according to virtually all their websites, managing video appeared to be a dawdle.  But Bob just chuckled.  He said, if there were Web Police checking the statements that DAMs made about video they would all be jailed.

Key Insights

I came away from the show with a few key insights.

  1. The Digital Asset Management business is increasingly relevant and growing
  2. Digital Asset Management practitioners are often their own harshest critics
  3. You would be mistaken for thinking the DAM industry is being disintermediated – they are probably undergoing a transformation like supermarkets and large banks
  4. Hybrid on-premise and cloud DAMs are the future
  5. If you are a “scalpel” solution you can offer a “jack-knife” DAM a valuable partnership

The mixed reality for DAMs going forward is that they are going to have to concentrate on what they do best which is ordering assets.  And they need to accept the fact that in the future they will not be able to be all things to all people.

My advice – manage your API wisely, partner wisely, integrate the best of breed as you would a thoroughbred and treat them fairly like family.  It may seem like a race – but it’s a long one not a short one – so make sure you keep your head up and enjoy the journey.

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