Southpaw Technology: It's 2019. Do you know where your digital assets are?
David Lowe, CEODigital assets—copyrights, patents, designs, formulas, brand names and imagery, customer data, social media coverage, publishing rights, and others— drive business. To the surprise of many senior executive and investors, these intangible assets comprise 84% of companies' valuation, and their value is five times higher than that of tangible assets such as raw materials and equipment. With this much at stake, organizations can't afford not to have visibility into how assets are created, changed, and used throughout their workflows.
High-Value Digital Assets are Underutilized
Being digital, today's assets are easy to create and inexpensive to iterate—and so they proliferate. As they move through the workflow being reviewed, changed, and approved, they also accumulate related files and communications. Hundreds or thousands of assets can be required to complete a customer's order, produce a product, or deliver a service. Although all of the assets and related materials are needed for specific reasons throughout the process, few end up in the final product. As a result, organizations own bought-and-paid-for digital assets that are unknown, underutilized, discarded, or just stored and forgotten.
Filmmaking is a good example. Prior to digital filmmaking, it typically took 25 hours of film footage to produce a 90-minute feature film—a ratio of about 10:1. Because digital footage is easy to produce, today's shooting ratios have skyrocketed. Feature films often shoot hundreds of hours of footage with ratios of anywhere from 30:1 up to 308:1.
It's not a stretch to expect similar asset-to-actual-use ratios across other industries. Based on years in the entertainment and media industry, we estimate 90+percent of enterprises' digital assets are produced and then used just once, set aside and unused, thrown out, or forgotten. These assets could be used for other purposes, such as marketing, re-packaging, promotion, or training.
Lack of Workflow Visibility
Underutilized assets certainly represent low ROI for a company, but there are other characteristics of traditional enterprise digital workflows critical to maximizing digital asset (and therefore, corporate) value. Workflow efficiency is required to meet market goals. Yet, enterprise workflows have become exceptionally complex, especially at scale, and few organizations have a clear picture of their own processes. They need granular visibility into each asset, each workflow step, and actual usage before they can identify areas for improvement. When critical assets—such as patent applications, confidential business plans, customer records, or competitive intelligence—are involved, the lack of visibility means that a scary percentage of your company's value is unaccounted for.
Talent is also an intangible asset, and it is at a premium. You hire the best people available, and they become buried under mountains of email, hours of meetings, and complicated approval processes. Suddenly, the rock stars you hired for their creative, numerical, managerial, or executive abilities are spending as much time moving information as they are doing what they do best.
Business Process Management—A Good Start
Enhancing employee productivity is one reason why business process management (BPM), workflow automation, process automation, and intelligent process automation (IPA) products have appeared on the market. For many organizations, the ability to transform paper-based assets into electronic files or automate tedious process steps represents a huge leap forward. But the fundamental challenge of gaining visibility into the digital assets themselves—and how they are affected as they move through workflows—is still a challenge. Without this end-to-end visibility, you can't accurately assess potential savings, opportunities, or competitive advantages.
Achieving end-to-end visibility into assets and workflow for transformation is where things become sticky. For most organizations, existing information systems represent a huge investment. New solutions have to work with this infrastructure without disruption. No one wants to be locked into proprietary platforms or face continually escalating license and support costs.
That's why open source solutions have become powerful agents in digital transformation efforts. Open source software offers technology creativity and innovation from loyal developer communities, high flexibility, easily adaptable code, and no- or low-cost licenses.
Underutilized assets certainly represent low ROI for a company, but there are other characteristics of traditional enterprise digital workflows critical to maximizing digital asset (and therefore, corporate) value
According to Forbes, in regards to open source, the future holds more of everything, including more organizations using open source and more open source components in applications.
Yet at the same time, the devil is in the details. For enterprises with their heavy security and compliance requirements, open source software means trusting critical applications or processes to software designed by people they don't know. Not only does the enterprise need astute technical leadership to assess the best open source solutions for their specific environments, they need DevOps capabilities to tailor and secure open source components and applications. What they don't need is risk—the risk of wasting time and resources on open source code or solutions that are untested in the real world.
Proven Open Source Workflow at Enterprise Scale
The TACTIC open source platform was developed more than 10 years ago specifically to deliver end-to-end visibility over digital assets and workflow. Since then, it has been put to the test in complex, large-scale enterprise environments. Hundreds of millions of petabytes of data have flowed through TACTIC deployments for household-name-brand organizations. In numerous deployments, TACTIC is handling ferociously complex workflows with millions of assets using multiple data types, data models, and terminologies.
The TACTIC open source platform does more than simply store digital assets or reinvent how they are moved from place to place. The workflow engine uses multiple methods to discover, model, analyze, measure, improve, optimize, and automate workflow processes. It's the only platform that automatically tags each asset as it is created and tracks every event associated with it as it is changed, published, and consumed. Nothing can be lost, and everything can be seen at any given moment, providing enterprises with deep visibility into any asset anytime, anywhere. The platform interfaces with key customer systems and applications, such as Salesforce, SharePoint, Active Directory, Exchange email and others. This enables organizations to orchestrate disparate interdependent functions, bridge information siloes, and deliver end-to-end transparency for all digital assets.
The Proof Is In the Results
With the powerful TACTIC workflow engine, a global financial services company has turbo-charged job processing. Digital assets are instantly updated, all process stakeholders have immediate visibility into job status and tasks, and management has total transparency into customers' jobs. Customer satisfaction has skyrocketed, and the workflow is being expanded to other global operations.
A leading player in the film industry uses the TACTIC workflow engine to streamline project hand-offs and scheduling with clients. Granular workflow visibility enabled it to achieved tremendous scheduling advantages that resulted in optimizing assignments, improving project tracking, and accelerating distribution. Other global companies are using TACTIC to create next-generation workflows for consumer product design, create a global trading platform, and orchestrate global operations, project assets, and technology resources.
Hardened enterprise-scale open source platforms like TACTIC are just beginning to demonstrate the power of real-world orchestration for digital asset workflow. Enterprises that need to know the "state of the world" of their digital assets in 2019 can with the open source TACTIC platform. They will achieve end-to-end visibility of digital assets and optimize process workflows. In addition, the power of the TACTIC platform can be harnessed for complementing cybersecurity controls, driving product and service innovation, and identifying new opportunities. There is much more opportunity to realize.