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Handling Digital Assets--Managing Content, Minus Limits

March 1998
Digital asset management, an enabling technology, is pushing today's commercial printers into the role of tomorrow's information managers.

Digital asset management. Unarguably, when these three words are strung together, whether on a trade show floor or at a business luncheon, commercial printers take notice.

Grover Daniels II, president of Boston-based Daniels Printing, has a theory on this phenomenon. "The printer is the conduit for the delivery of content, whether the delivery vehicle is print or digital in nature," he professes.

Daniels, a fourth-generation commercial printer, prefers to describe his family business as a full-service information provider that will comprise three interrelated business units: commercial printing, financial printing and, in the future, as Daniels projects, digital asset management services.

"Commercial printers must now be experts at data archival, retrieval and digital repurposing in order to meet and exceed the emerging demands for content," Daniels contends. "The idea by which today's commercial printers must operate deviates from the traditional print direction—embracing the expanded array of digital communication opportunities available today, opportunities that allow for communication without limits."

Recently, Daniels Printing announced a strategic partnership agreement with WebWare, a technology provider of Internet-based content management and workflow solutions, and USWEB Cornerstone, a professional Web consulting and development services firm, to co-market Content Manager, Daniels Printing's interactive information management system.

Content Manager is a Web-based digital media and information management system for large corporations and financial institutions. The digital asset manager enables Daniels' customers, and other users, to retrieve digital content and measure the status of production on a job-by-job basis.

"There is an overwhelming need in our industry for repurposing digital assets—for both print and Internet publishing—and for creating, storing and retrieving digital content quickly and effectively. Content Manager was born out of that," states Daniels, who believes printers are moving to a different marketplace entirely as new digital asset managers, like Content Manager, take rise in the industry.

But digital asset management is by no means limited to the manipulation of data. In addition to handling digital information, printers must be able to store it.

Beyond the bulk of the RAID clusters (see sidebar, Storage, Storage, Storage), beyond the Jaz and SyJet drives, the collection of DAT tapes, CD-ROM disks and other vehicles for the storage of digital assets, lies the next, perhaps most marketable, component in a commercial printer's digital archiving arsenal: workflow management solutions.

Obviously, the field is expanding considerably.
 

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