Thoughts from Toby Martin, Extensis' New CEO

August 5, 2019
2 min read

After six years serving Extensis as Vice President of Development and Strategy, Toby Martin was recently appointed the company’s new Chief Executive Officer. Despite now being responsible for the global strategy and operations of an international organization, Toby recently took time out of his busy schedule to offer his thoughts on the ongoing changes that make the digital asset management space so dynamic and exciting.

Here’s what he had to say:

It’s undeniable to anyone in the know that there are titanic shifts in the marketplace that Extensis—and all participants in the creative ecosystem—must be aware of. Today, I’d like to take a few moments to discuss these ongoing shifts and examine what we’re going to do about them.

Of key importance is the change in how services are delivered from older models to more simplified delivery paradigms. Take the on-prem, server-based deployment models many of us grew up using every day and compare that with the recent explosion in XaaS solutions, which include everything from software and on-demand computing, to housing and transportation as a service. Extensis is investing significant resources in understanding what our customers are doing in their workflows, and how we can better serve those needs with minimal investments–a key promise of XaaS.

Closely related to this is the management of digital assets–and, critically, how those assets are procured and added to customer environments. Monotype, one of our larger partners and a behemoth of font foundries, recently launched Mosaic, a font subscription service. This is a dramatic shift from prior years where a user would purchase the rights to a font in perpetuity. Adobe has done the same with Adobe Fonts (f/k/a TypeKit), and we’re increasingly seeing other organizations jumping onto the “asset rental” bandwagon.

While this helps to reduce financial commitments and entanglements, it does require greater discipline in managing assets. Whenever you increase the complexity of usage rights, you also inherently increase the complexity of managing font use to ensure your risk is less than the reward. As with most benefits, the costs lie in the time and effort needed to manage these assets to not run afoul of Terms and Conditions inherent in the new subscription-based models.

Additionally, the workplace has shifted greatly from the old school 9 to 5, everyone in the office style, to a newer, more flexible workplace (thanks WeWork!) including varied hours and perpetually shifting teams. In order to address these new challenges, more organizations are re-thinking their systems and moving more assertively–dare I say aggressively? –to work with technology partners who are built natively to foster these dynamics.

Technology shifts have also caused serious disruptions, especially in things like Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Every CXO is looking at reports, listening to analysts, and challenging their teams to be on the cusp of using AI / ML to drive their business. However, without a specific objective in mind, these could turn into solutions in search of a problem, or worse yet, cause incorrect assumptions and bloat data to the point where it’s impossible to make sense of it. You must start with the fundamental question or problem to be addressed and then evaluate, rather than procure the engine and only then devise a way forward. Data is king, no doubt, but like the first rule of computing, it’s garbage in and garbage out. AI and ML just allow you to do more damage with the garbage.

While these changes in the digital asset management space represent an immense number of challenges – some of which we can’t even imagine yet – they also represent an opportunity to solve problems in new and better ways. There’s no telling how the DAM space will continue to grow and expand in the future, but you can be sure that Extensis will be ready with cutting edge solutions built from the ground up to solve not just modern problems, but also any issues looming on the horizon.

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