Fotoware is a Digital Assets Management platform (DAM) that allows designers and marketers to handle large volumes of digital files efficiently and productively. In this interview, Head of Marketing Communications Bettina Berntsen explains the concept of DAM and highlights its increasing importance for businesses in the digital era.
Please describe Fotoware’s story: What is your mission? what sparked the idea, and how has it evolved so far?
Fotoware was founded in 1994 by Ole Christian Frenning and Anders Bergman. At the time, Ole Christian was working as a photo editor at a Norwegian daily newspaper and Anders was a developer and engineer for a camera manufacturer. They recognized that the media and publishing industry, in particular, would benefit from digitizing images, and as a result, Fotoware was born. Today, Fotoware offers two products:
FotoStation, a photography tool that lets you upload thousands of images, add metadata, manage image rights, and select and push images into production.
Fotoware, a Digital Asset Management (DAM) solution, is now used by thousands of companies all over the world.
Our mission is to enable people and organizations to do more with their content. We also see a lot of marketers are really benefiting from using DAM as a tool in their work to organize all the digital files and automatically run workflows to push campaigns more efficiently, etc. A good and simple example from the marketing perspective is a huge brand that sends out a Christmas greeting to their customers every year with a picture of a Christmas pudding. Every year, they had to reshoot the pudding, because they couldn’t find last year’s image. It would have been really easy to reuse, edit and touch up, but this was before they had a DAM system, which would have helped them to find the right files in time for Christmas. Today, with Fotoware, they can easily find and reuse their content when and where they need it.
What exactly is Digital Asset Management?
The concept of digital asset management is somewhat similar to the more generic cloud storage solutions that we all use today, however, it adds several layers on top which significantly improve the way you interact with your content. By adding metadata, we turn files into assets. You can think of metadata like Instagram hashtags that you add to a file. By doing so, you increase the value of that file or asset as it is much easier to find and work with. You can then run different types of automatic processes and push its capabilities even further. For example, we have a customer in the publishing industry who receives thousands of pictures every day from photographers and agencies worldwide. If all of them were to send those photos, via email or a link, it would make it impossible for the people working at the picture desk to know when and where to use them, and it would take too much time to sort them manually. DAM adds information so when you receive a file, you know its usage rights in terms of licensing and crediting. You may only be allowed to use a file digitally, or there might be a royalty to pay. From a marketing perspective, being able to automatically revoke an asset from a website when its license has expired enables you to efficiently comply with copyright and licensing laws, and eliminates the need to keep track of these things manually. With all that information attached to the file itself, using metadata or visual markers, you instantly know how and where you can use that image.
Who is your main target audience?
While Fotoware’s roots are in the media and publishing industry, we have a wide range of other use cases from marketing departments across many industries. DAM technology is now used in verticals such as law enforcement and police for handling digital evidence. In retail, it is used to manage visuals in conjunction with product information. Retail businesses often integrate our DAM system with their Product Information Management (PIM) systems.DAM systems are becoming increasingly business-critical. The amount of photos, stock images and digital assets used to promote a brand or even just a simple blog is huge. By having a system that supports metadata and easy search, you can utilize your creatives a lot more efficiently. More than 250,000 users and 4,000 customers in a wide range of industries worldwide use Fotoware including NHST Media Group, Lindex, The White House Historical Association, The Financial Times, Marks & Spencer, Metropolitan Police, Axel Springer Verlag, The Economist, Australian Defence Force, and Thomson Reuters.
How has Covid-19 affected your business, customers, and industry?
As a company working within the SaaS and digital industry, we were luckily well prepared for working remotely, because many of our team members were already doing that before the pandemic. That being said, we definitely missed the human-to-human interaction. What has helped us are digital coffee breaks, walks, and after-work activities like virtual escape rooms. Business-wise, we have definitely seen a rise in demand for the SaaS versions of our products, as opposed to the on-premise version. Almost 60% of our new customers in 2020 chose the SaaS version, compared to only 35% in 2019. We also witnessed how Fotoware was able to contribute to the fight against the pandemic. A hospital client in the UK was able to reduce staff-to-patient contact from three to one by implementing Fotoware tools. We were very humbled to learn about this and we are very proud of being able to help.
Which trends or technologies do you find to be particularly exciting these days?
From a DAM perspective, one thing we see is the use of Artificial Intelligence, which continues to build on automated workflows which are very popular within our industry. Applying a technology like AI to identify assets more easily is something that our customers and the industry as a whole are very excited to explore. We also recognize the need for efficient GDPR management. Not everyone has thought of GDPR in relation to images. Being able to manage user consent regarding images, particularly ones that contain identifiable faces, and where they can be used is critical for GDPR compliance. Our customers are always grateful for being able to solve that challenge once and for all by using Fotoware. Another strong trend is integration. Gartner spoke about how integrations are becoming increasingly important, and we see that as well in the requests we get from our users. From a marketing perspective, no single system can solve all tasks. So, moving forward, the ability to integrate and pull data from third-party applications will become increasingly important.
We have integrations with different CMSs and social media channels. You can also integrate Fotoware with your product management tools. One thing we’ve been very proud of since the beginning of Fotoware is our open API. You can build almost any kind of integration on top of Fotoware to add extra layers and features, allowing you to make the most out of our system. For example, our plugins for Microsoft Powerpoint and Word, and the Adobe Creative Cloud along with the integrations to Content Management Systems like WordPress and Episerver have been extremely popular, as they enable marketers and designers to work with the tools that they know and love, and enjoy the benefits of working with a DAM system in the background.
How do you envision the future of your industry?
What I’m seeing now in the marketing industry is that essentially every company today has to become a content creator to some extent if they want to succeed online. Being able to get as much value out of the content you create every day, all year round will definitely raise the demand for DAM systems in the digital ecosystem.
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