I sat down (virtually, of course) with our CEO Toby Martin to get the inside scoop on Extensis Connect, our exciting new cloud-based DAM.
1. Congratulations on the launch of Extensis Connect! Can you tell us a little bit about what inspired the company to undertake development on this new online collaboration tool?
Toby Martin: We wanted to approach digital asset management (DAM) from a new angle because we have seen many customers plagued by a single common issue over the years. The DAM tools in question – even our own – would enable teams to accomplish their goals, but they also frequently became a bit of a burden.
There is a very real need to get back to the core purpose of DAM. Fully featured systems are not the right fit for every customer. So, we designed a tool that makes it easy to store, find, and manage assets — without an overwhelming amount of functionality and without the need for a server or IT support.
2. What are some of the customer needs that Extensis Connect was designed to meet and fulfill?
Toby: Time and again, the primary needs customers have expressed to us are the more basic things like a place to store all of their assets (not the digital parking lot, that’s an old hard drive, and hard drives aren’t great for collaboration) and then easily retrieve them. They also need an efficient way to organize these assets so that they can find them quickly and easily.
Many other facets of digital asset management are critical, and vary by use case, but without these three pillars (storage, accessibility, and organization), everything else gets “lost” in the shuffle — both literally and figuratively. In order to actualize the value of digital assets, these three pillars must be achieved effectively.
We also saw that for many creative businesses, collaboration was changing — and where, when, and how work was actually getting done was changing as well. There’s a new expectation to have everything at your fingertips because depending on the project, work doesn’t start and end at set times.
"Now, people need to be able to easily collaborate from home and check in from faraway locations and different time zones while they’re traveling." They need tools that support them and help them get things done.
There’s also the issue of excessive time and effort, that we see with so many creative teams. People need a new asset, and they start from scratch. But truthfully, most assets are made of multiple smaller assets, such as various fonts, photos, graphics, and other creative assets. When these are properly tracked, they can be repurposed more effectively, and the focus can return to creative collaboration and productivity. A DAM can make all the difference in this, and it’s crucial for smaller companies and flexible teams to take back control of their assets.
We intentionally built a solution that was straightforward and easy to implement so that smaller businesses and growing teams can reap the benefits of a DAM from anywhere.
3. Extensis Connect is a little different from more traditional DAM solutions. Can you tell us a little bit about what sets it apart, and which companies and teams may benefit more from an option like this?
Toby: Start with simplicity like Occam’s Razor – all things considered equal, the simplest method is always the best, so when considering starting the process of DAM, do you need every other bell and whistle? Every feature and integration? Every advanced AI shortcut?
Some businesses absolutely do. That’s why the DAM market is so explosive and why we’ve seen serious growth in traditional DAM, and that’s also traditional DAM systems aren’t going anywhere.
However, there are also people who never thought they needed a DAM or have been hesitant because of budgetary or implantation concerns. Those people have gone underserved.
I’d be willing to wager that there are more assets out there unmanaged that properly managed. If you’re one of those small teams using email, Excel sheets, hard drives, shared network drives or other storage service to try and share assets – news flash…you’re missing out on all the benefits of true DAM.
4. One great thing about this cloud-based DAM is that it doesn’t require a traditional work server, or even a traditional office. How does this support Extensis Connect customers?
Toby: In many years of speaking with IT leaders, I’ve never received an affirmative to the question I like to ask – do you have too many resources or too much time?
In light of this, we need to help out not only creative teams, but also IT. When a system doesn’t require hardware, complex integrations, or weeks-long implementations, it’s much less of a burden on IT. Let’s show them some love too, since DAM is a company-wide objective beyond only those people in Marketing or Creative Teams.
Another thing we have to consider is that there are some smaller businesses – boutique creative agencies for example – that do not have a full-time, in-house IT person, let alone an IT department. However, those businesses are still productive, and effective digital asset management can help them to meet their goals and be even more productive. Connect empowers businesses like these to reap the benefits of DAM, which would be unattainable with a traditional on-premise solution that requires IT implementation and maintenance.
5. How do you envision Extensis Connect transforming workflow for customers?
Toby: As we worked on this, we really focused on making sure it would benefit everyone on a creative team.
On the one hand, we have hard-working creatives who are collaborating, brainstorming, and executing at a very high level. To put it mildly, they are very busy people. Empowering them to find everything they need more quickly is giving them actual time back. And it also lets them maintain their focus, because they don’t have to completely stop what they’re doing to track down assets – context switching kills productivity.
On the other hand, we have team leads and business owners. A lot of the time, these folks are creatives too, but their concerns are a little different. While workflow efficiency is important to them and they don’t want their team wasting time on unnecessary busywork, they are incredibly concerned about client and stakeholder relationships. It’s crucial to use the right assets and to be able to deliver reliably. It’s not just important to make a good impression, it’s important to wow stakeholders every day. A tool like Extensis Connect benefits their team, but it also improves consistency, speeds up workflow, and even provides a delivery mechanism for these stakeholders.
What we’re aiming for is to provide total peace of mind for creatives and leadership, and create space in their workflows for new projects, new ideas, and new ideas — room for growth.
6. When Extensis first started this project, remote and flexible schedule companies were on the rise. But we’ve seen a huge surge in remote work in 2020. How can Extensis Connect and similar tools support businesses in adapting to change?
Toby: Adaptation has always been about survival, but it’s also about improvement. 2020 has certainly tested us all in our ability to adapt.
What we have observed from several key customer segments is that they were able to adapt quickly, and because of that, they were able to get back to full-pace productivity in a very short period of time. They’re making it work and moving forward because they’re making the necessary adjustments and investments.
We are fortunate to have had this project in mind for some time. Watching the changes in markets over the course of 2020 has only solidified our belief that this new tool is the right thing at the right time. We’re working to give customers what they need in order to achieve their desired outcomes, in a way that’s accessible and sustainable, no matter how their collaboration process may change.
Cloud-based solutions allow businesses to ensure their team has access to the tools they need, when they need them. Whether a company would normally have everyone in an office together or everyone working remotely, a cloud-based tool allows for total accessibility. Work has changed forever. On the one hand, we don’t know when it’s going to be safe for everyone to commute and share physical space together during the workday. On the other hand, we’re seeing some incredible remote productivity, many knowledge workers prefer working from home, and – at least among the Extensis Team – people are going to have a lot of travel to catch up on when this is over. So, we need to plan for a more distributed workforce going forward, and our tools and tech-stacks need to adapt to support this, or risk being left behind.
7. From what we’ve seen with other Extensis products, Extensis Connect is likely to keep involving and improving based on the success outcomes of our customers. Can you give us any hints as to what we can expect next?
Toby: Absolutely. Customers can expect rapid releases and frequent delivery of updates, similar to what we’ve been doing for years on TeamSync and Suitcase Fusion. The faster time to market means we can react more efficiently and evolve to our customer needs even better than we have in the first 27 years of Extensis. You’ll also see us expanding into digital asset lifecycle (DAL), where we dive deeper into managing assets and their internal components. The process of creating and managing assets may be even more expensive, and we feel that there are numerous improvements to be made there too. And of course, given our background in fonts — we’ll leave it at that for now!
Either way, we will continue to deliver easier and more valuable customer outcomes with Extensis Connect, and we’re just getting started re-defining and evolving the marketplace.
We’re so happy that Extensis Connect is now available, and we can’t wait to help teams achieve their digital asset management goals from anywhere. You can sign up for a free trial today and start saving your team serious time.
Photo by Rob Walsh on Unsplash
Connect Fonts Powered By Suitcase lets you view your fonts from your web browser on any device, and it represents a big step forward in the evolution of Extensis Connect. Now, for the first time ever, creative professionals can manage their fonts and digital assets in the same place. See what Chad Slater, our VP of Product Development, has to say about Connect Fonts and what it means for the future of creativity.