Most companies start small, hoping to attract a bigger clientele as they grow. ClearStory is trying a different approach with its recent launch of ActiveMedia Essentials, a hosted, browser-based digital assets management package that targets smaller companies and departments that want to manage their digital media assets with the same security and usability that the major companies have come to expect from ClearStory's ActiveMedia Enterprise software.
Since it was founded in 1989, ClearStory's systems have provided brand, video, and digital content management services for corporate clientele as massive and diverse as Bristol-Myers Squibb, J.M. Smucker Company, and National Geographic Channels. Louis Gigliotti, vice president of the ActiveMedia Essentials business group, realized that "the DAM systems on the market today are either too complex or too expensive for the smaller organization or workgroup." This April, ClearStory decided to launch ActiveMedia Essentials to cater to the technological and financial needs of these companies.
With ActiveMedia Essentials' fully hosted, Web-based system, companies can get things up and running in a couple of days, without needing to invest in new hardware or IT staffers. Installation is unnecessary; the application is delivered as a hosted service, with only an Internet browser needed. ClearStory vice president of marketing Susan Worthy feels that this is an ideal solution for smaller organizations; she's also had divisions within larger corporations that are focusing on a specific project express interest in an easily deployed solution. The pay-as-you-go pricing model is designed to reflect the interests of a smaller company, starting at $495 a month for up to five users, and adding $95 per each additional user.
"The typical value proposition for DAM is that it can contain distribution costs, enable content re-use, allow teams to share content, manage version control, and even [help realize] a faster time to market," says Gigliotti. "With our pay-as-you-go pricing model, smaller organizations get all this value, without a big upfront investment."
As for the functionality, "it's very similar to ActiveMedia Enterprise," says Worthy, referring to ClearStory's award-winning enterprise DAM software. The major differences are that it comes preconfigured for easy access and that certain features are streamlined for smaller-scale use—"you won't get as much of a deep dive," she says. Many of the DAM features remain intact, including full-text search and browse functions, compound document management, automatic file-format conversion, streaming media capabilities, and easy sharing and management of a variety of digital media including photos, PowerPoint presentations, and video. Additionally, Essentials puts the same high premium on security that other ClearStory products do, "at the intersection between the privileges and permissions of the individual and the asset," according to Worthy.
For smaller companies, figuring out a way to organize and access a massive quantity of digital media can be a baffling task, but ActiveMedia Essentials is designed to provide users with a basic hierarchical methodology for guidance. Unlike ActiveMedia 7, which offers more flexibility in its architecture, Essentials provides the structure, and the client provides the content.
Because it's centrally hosted and maintained by ClearStory, ActiveMedia Essentials allows its users to access their content from any Internet connection. Should the business and its DAM needs grow beyond the capabilities of Essentials, Worthy says that the features are "massively scalable," allowing the system to grow as well.
ClearStory's DAM systems have already proven that they can keep up with the demands of major American corporations. With ActiveMedia Essentials, they'll see if they can tailor that success to suit the little guys as well.