Beyond Transcoding: Digital Asset Management Defined by Josh Bruhin

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The volume and variety of digital media in the enterprise, especially video, is exploding. It's revolutionizing how people communicate and collaborate. It's providing teachers and trainers valuable new tools. It's enabling marketers to reach and engage with customers like never before...and that’s just the beginning.

The rapid proliferation of devices designed to capture and originate video content, combined with the incredible momentum behind connected mobile devices, has led to tremendous growth in digital video usage. Unfortunately, it has also led to a daunting and confusing set of platforms, browsers, formats, codecs, protocols and standards. While we will see some normalization of these things over time, organizations are currently stuck trying to deal with what can seem like endless permutations of end-user requirements.

The high-level goal for most digital media strategies is to reach users on all “three screens” – PC, mobile, and TV. If you consider that ‘mobile’ can include new tablet form factors, then it’s more than three screens. The fact is that there is no format/codec combination that will work in all web browsers on all platforms. HTML5 shows great promise, but it’s not yet a widely deployed format. Flash and Silverlight (cross-platform solutions) are currently not well supported on mobile platforms. Like it or not, any digital media strategy for the enterprise will have to include support for multiple video formats and codecs

This certainly presents a ‘transcoding’ problem (a term that refers to changing formats of a video file). There are many solutions to perform transcoding, including software programs that can be installed on a PC or deployed in a data center, or online service providers that can do the work for you. However, there is much more to the problem than simply transcoding.

As video content is produced and made available to users for more and more applications – communication, training, research, marketing, etc. – the number of systems, applications and user interfaces involved increases. Manually managing content from multiple sources and transcoding it for multiple applications is very difficult and extremely inefficient. No transcoding solution alone will deal with the volumes, variability and complexities involved here.

What’s needed is a digital asset management (DAM) solution that can receive and manage content from any number of sources and automatically transcode, format and make that content available to anyone on any device in any application. Along with ensuring the content is delivered in the required format, the DAM solution also delivers metadata, related content and manages things like permissions and access control.

Enterprise-class DAM solutions need to be built to deal with the growing variety of digital video applications, including live video. They should be able to automate the acquisition and ingest of content from multiple sources, create indexes automatically, format and transcode for specific distribution channels and applications, and perform all of the important content management functions, such as access control, version management and workflow.

It’s not just about content production and management. It’s about content access, distribution, and publishing. Users need to access content thru a variety of other applications and user interfaces, from dedicated web sites to unified communications systems, portals and other enterprise systems. In short, users need a centralized content management platform that facilitates distributed content access.

The bottom line is that as digital media usage proliferates within enterprises, many are beginning to think about systems to manage digital media as valuable enterprise resources rather than isolated departmental solutions. An enterprise digital asset management solution is an essential component of any strategy to address multi-platform, multi-application digital media requirements.

Josh Bruhin is Director, Business Development, ViewCast Media Platform, ViewCast. What's your experience with enterprise-class digital asset management? Email us your feedback at


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