It’s Time to Go Digital

It’s Time to Go Digital

Digital asset management is a phrase that gets tossed around in business conversations, but what is it, really? And how do businesses derive value from it?

As the name implies, an organization’s “digital assets” exist in the digital realm, and have intrinsic value to a business. Digital assets can be as simple as a spreadsheet of customers’ contact information, or as complex as a searchable library of a feature film’s visual effects, script, schedule, musical score, and legal documents. Digital Asset Management (DAM) systems store, organize, retrieve, and share an organization’s digital property.

DAM delivers value in two ways: security and productivity. Bethany Landing, VP of Client Operations for DAM services company 5thKind, discusses both aspects in an interview for this article.

Regarding security, Landing says, “5thKind serves film and television clients. No one in a film studio wants to have scripts or film clips leaked to the press or the public ahead of time. If the audience already knows what happens at the end of, let’s say, “Black Panther,” why would they buy a ticket? The potential loss of income is enormous.” Likewise, in other types of businesses, there can be significant financial consequences if confidential agreements or patient records or financial documents find their way into the wrong hands.

Landing mentions the work-from-home (WFH) trend as a potential security risk that DAM helps to mitigate. “Every film clip and digital document is watermarked, and access is controlled and monitored. Film executives can review clips and documents from anywhere, on any device,” she says.

Any business with paper documents that are ordinarily stored safely in an office runs a risk when those papers are removed to a WFH setting. Converting paper documents to digital format keeps the information secure yet accessible.

As for productivity, DAM speeds up information search and retrieval many times faster than manual searches through paper documents or other physical elements. One of 5thKind’s clients estimates saving $1.5 million per film, thanks to the speed of digital search. Fast digital searches allowed producers and editors to find and re-use various animated backgrounds and visual effects, without spending hundreds of hours (and many thousands of dollars) on manual searches.

Other industry sectors, too, find DAM to be a productivity winner. The American Records Management Association estimates that office staffers spend 7.4% of their time looking for documents. That’s nearly 3 hours of each employee’s 40-hour work week. If your business has paper documents, you’re paying for a lot of unproductive hours. What does it cost your company to lose 3 hours of productivity multiplied across an entire staff, week after week?

When you add up those lost hours across an entire organization, one thing is clear: It’s definitely time to go digital. And that means document imaging –  transforming your paper documents into a secure, searchable database of digital assets. Talk to an imaging expert and get all the latest digital benefits for your business.

 

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Lesson Six: Re-Examine Business and Personal Fundamentals

Lesson Six: Re-Examine Business and Personal Fundamentals

This is the sixth in a series exploring Dr. Kristen Lee’s (Northwestern University) nine lessons in personal and collective fortitude. Seen through the lens of a business operation, each lesson has application in the current national health and economic challenges, and for successful endeavors in the future.

 

The fundamentals – interpersonal connections, the natural world, a spiritual-values focus – are easy to lose sight of in the middle of an economic crisis. When things seem to be falling apart, it’s a good time to get back to basics and make sure your foundation is solid, ready to support a new structure.

On a personal level, a few minutes a day for a phone call to a friend or a face-to-face with a family member keeps everyone feeling connected. A walk through a park or a hike in the woods puts us in touch with the natural world. And setting aside time for meditation or worship renews our spiritual selves. A strong personal foundation makes it possible to be a strong business leader.

In the business realm, the same fundamentals of humanity and spirit are basic to a successful enterprise. John Mariotti, President and CEO of The Enterprise Group, recommends keeping these nine business fundamentals top-of-mind:

  1. “The purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer.” (Theodore Levitt)  It seems self-evident, yet many businesses end up focused on process instead of customer relationships.
  2. Provide high-quality and reliable products or services. As Mariotti points out, customers value reliability. Quality and reliability are the underpinning of your brand.
  3. Keep the customers you have by selling them the products or services that made you successful. Keep your core business solid, especially when presented with new opportunities (and the risks that come with them).
  4. Charge a fair price. Too high, and you lose customers; too low and you lose your business.
  5. Always consider what is important to your customers. Listen. What are their pain points, and what can you offer as a solution?
  6. Know your costs and charge enough to make a profit.“Lose money on every sale, make it up in volume” is not a viable business model.
  7. Manage your cash flow. Monitor your projected cash flow to stay ahead of any finance issues.
  8. Keep your eye on the competition, and focus on what made you successful. Your value proposition and your distinctive brand will make you stand out.
  9. Hire the right people. Team up with people whose skills and attitude complement the values of your business. Protect the team and the brand by swiftly removing any “bad apples.”

We would add a tenth item to this list: Cultivate relationships with vendors who share your customer-centric orientation. Your business relies on customers, but it also relies on vendors to provide services or goods that you don’t make in-house. Seek out vendors who treat you the way you treat your customers.

When you keep your eye on the fundamentals that support all of your endeavors, both personal and business, you will weather the storm.

 

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Associations: A Budget Bonus is Waiting for You

Associations: A Budget Bonus is Waiting for You

Like the business sectors they serve, associations are facing sudden unexpected challenges. Association revenues are down as conferences are canceled, advertisers pull back, and associations’ members deal with their own budgetary stresses. Many associations have had to do a quick pivot to work-from-home (WFH), roughly akin to building the ship while sailing it. Association executives have scrambled to re-arrange workflows, while reconfiguring budgets to accommodate the new processes.

There’s a surprising silver lining, however: For associations that have some flexibility in their real estate leases, the new WFH workstyle means the need for large offices – and their high-priced rent – can be eliminated. Writing in CEO Update, Kathryn Walson reports on the decision of Denver-based Obesity Management Association to move out of their large offices and move into full-time WFH. With a few co-working offices reserved for in-person work, OMA expects to save $52,000 in the first year.

WFH necessitates remote access to work materials – everything from organization documents to marketing brochures and member information. Paper documents, especially those containing confidential information, should be converted to digital format via imaging. This process makes the documents accessible remotely to WFH staffers, without the security risk of removing the original papers from the office. And if an association outsources some operational functions – accounting, for example – the vendor’s access is easy to monitor and control.

It’s true that not every association can switch over to completely virtual offices. Many need to maintain a physical presence for team collaboration and meetings with vendors and member groups; after all, visibility is a key part of an association’s work. Nevertheless, a combination of WFH and physical offices gives associations a way to reduce their real estate footprint and their real estate costs.

Now is a good time for CEO’s to analyze their association’s space needs, financial condition, and lease agreements. Opportunities for reducing office space may be readily available: an expiring lease, a termination option, a sublet offer. With digital support for WFH, associations can discover valuable budget benefits.

 

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Re-Designing Facilities with Health and Safety in Mind

Re-Designing Facilities with Health and Safety in Mind

Safety is on everyone’s mind these days. The same forces which have disrupted daily life is also disrupting the way facilities are designed, utilized, and maintained. Fast Company is forecasting that the hottest new job in commercial real estate and facilities management is the director of environmental health– a medical expert, preferably with expertise in infectious diseases.

The director of environmental health will be tasked with assessing the health risks posed by current operational systems and policies, and making recommendations for facility-wide changes that reduce health risks. However, individual landlords and tenants are going to be responsible to some degree for including health and safety elements within their own spaces.

Every office uses space differently. High-touch surfaces, traffic patterns, and distancing policies will have be designed to fit each tenant’s needs. Touchless technologyis already available for doors, electronic devices, and personal storage lockers. Touchless lockers with attractive design-friendly finishes can also be used as a separation structure to guide internal traffic, maintain social distance, and reduce contagion.

Also useful in social distancing are RFID wearables that alert staffers when they are too close to each other. RFID(radio frequency identification) is a mature, proven technology for asset management, from inventory control to document tracking to process management. It’s a simple matter to add RFID proximity wearables.

Angelo Bianco of Crocker Partners, a commercial real estate owner with 11 million square feet of office space, predicts that many commercial office space organizations will hire environmental health directors. A focus on enhanced health and safety systems could be a strong marketing advantage in the highly competitive commercial real estate industry.  Additionally, having a medical expert on staff is a risk management strategy; owners and operators of commercial properties are protected from claims of health-related negligence.

Tenants, too, can derive some risk management benefits by installing hardware and furnishings specifically designed for workplace well-being. Although many businesses have learned that work-from-home is a productive and cost-effective workstyle, a hybrid of WFH and office is emerging as the new normal. As offices are repopulated, either part-time or full-time, health-oriented designs and policies are going to be the new future of facilities management.

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