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IBM creates big blueprint for digital-asset archiving

Sep 10, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Most companies in the content business have material they would like to archive, manage and turn into profit. Now IBM is aiming to help content providers do just that with a new suite of digital-asset-management products.
You don’t have to know a lot about Big Blue to think this may be strange territory for the company.
Steve Canepa, VP of media and entertainment for IBM, said the company has changed: “We created a media and entertainment division in 1995. Our strategy is straightforward-enabling our customers to enhance their brand, embrace this digital transformation and reach new markets with the digital exploitation of content.”
IBM’s first and largest customer for its digital-asset-management systems is CNN. In what is expected to be a seven-year, $20 million project, CNN plans to use the IBM systems to digitize, catalog, store and retrieve more than 120,000 hours of archival material collected in the past 21 years.
“For CNN, the resulting system will reduce operational costs and provide greater opportunities to increase revenue by leveraging our digital assets across multiple platforms,” said Gordon Castle, CNN senior vice president of strategic digital systems research and development.
Mr. Castle sees the project as an important step in protecting some of the most historic footage from past decades-some of which will soon simply disintegrate if it isn’t protected. He sees this project leading the way for other news and entertainment organizations. “We think we’re creating a template,” he said.
IBM is working with Paramount Domestic Television’s “Entertainment Tonight” to set up a system that primarily focuses on the daily process instead of on archival footage, although “ET” has about 100,000 hours of archival material that also will be incorporated into the system. The goal is to make the show’s digital assets easily available for repurposing, not only for its own television shows but also for Web sites and for sale to other broadcast entities.
Robert Kisor, VP of engineering and technical services for Paramount Pictures, said he believes that if the experiment works, the company will purchase the system for its other properties as well.
IBM introduced its latest digital-asset-management product, Websphere Commerce Suite, in early August and it is being used by New York-based Sekani, a digital management company with stock-photo operation roots. Sekani is digitizing its analog images and film clips and putting them on the Web so customers can search them online.
In doing so, it has expanded its market beyond ad agencies to independent producers and even the general public, enabling them to buy royalty-free film clips using a credit card. This represents an untapped market for the company, according to Oscar Lugay, chief technology officer, who says Sekani expects to achieve 100 percent return on investment or $3 million in increased revenue within a year.
“Before, when someone would request a piece of tape, it took us three to five days to find the clip that they wanted, cut and dub it and send it out,” Mr. Lugay said. “With Commerce Suite … the cycle has been shortened to hours or minutes.”