2023 proved to be a year of major change in the field of content production and distribution with the explosion of new AI technology paving the way for brands to create content differently.
This trend and others affected how brands were interacting with their DAM systems and indeed how here at Wedia we catered to our clients’ needs.
In this interview with our CTO, Olivier Grenet, he takes us through the major changes from 2023 and what the year ahead might look like.
Generative-AI (Gen-AI) and the evolution of video production are two of the major advances that we witnessed in 2023.
What we really saw happening was the change from Gen-AI being confined to research labs to it becoming a practical tool that we can actually use. When Midjourney’s fourth version was released, brands quickly understood how useful this tool could be and rapidly adopted it. We’re now already up to the sixth version.
We are now seeing examples of brands using Gen-AI to create adverts and many creative agencies working with Midjourney on a daily basis – whether it’s for developing new concepts or building storyboards.
Of course, Digital Asset Management (DAM) also has to adapt, in terms of both integration and capacity, like in the way that we did for Wedia.ai, our own Gen-AI tool. It has also been important to think about how to manage the copyright of these images. This is a slightly tricky subject as there is not a specific author behind these AI-generated images, so this is something we are currently considering.
The second trend which impacted 2023 was video production, which has been driven in large part by TikTok and the “story” style of social media videos, like Instagram Stories and Reels. This short-form video format can now be produced easily by a range of creative tools such as Canva, meaning brands can quickly create these types of promotional videos for social media. This means that the amount of video content that companies are churning out has exploded, because of both demand and the high-quality of the tools available.
From a DAM perspective, we’ve seen a number of new video formats emerge; short form, vertical videos, stories – formats which didn’t really exist before the 2023 explosion. For us, in terms of DAM, we had to adapt in order to diffuse videos vertically by default with a redesigned Video Player that is more compact.
What we’ve also seen within the DAM environment is an outpouring of social media assets, as brands create assets for different channels (Instagram, TikTok, X etc.) adapted for different territories and languages. Integrating the Wedia DAM with these new video/ story production tools such as Canva and improving our localization module was important in order to follow this very much confirmed trend.
What we have really noticed is a new desire by brands for centralization and a Single Source of Truth approach. This has meant we’ve gone from a time when each entity of a brand would have their own separate DAM platform to a need to have a communal DAM that is used by the entire company, across different teams and locations. This helps to improve collaboration between all teams and for users to find assets more easily, without having them duplicated on several systems.
In 2023 we worked with a number of companies to combine their previous three or four DAM systems into one to centralize asset management into one single place. But we also helped to create local, specific spaces in this centralized DAM for teams across the world. Meaning for example that the Spanish team of a company would have their DAM in Spanish, along with an adequate setup for searching assets in the Spanish market and not see exactly what the German team would see. This helps brands ensure that their local teams, while using the same software, are using a setup that perfectly matches their local market requirements.
I want to speak here about our organization as we really changed how we approached product development in 2023. We went from a process that was very technology centered to a much more people-focused method.
Before, we were working in an almost test tube like environment, where we developed our product based on how we thought users wanted to interact with the DAM. We have now moved to a user-centric approach, thanks to tools which allow us to collect live user feedback throughout the year. These product discovery tools centralize and organize all this information into larger “overviews” to give us a good idea of the changes which users want to see.
This means that when we work on a new development, we can contact users and find out about their real frustrations or challenges and ask them if they would be happy to carry out a user interview with us. We then use this information to create UX (User Experience) prototypes which can then be tested by these users to see if they have resolved the problem or if we need to develop them more. Now when we launch a new feature, it is perfectly adapted for what the user wants.
Something else which we are proud of is that fact we have really enhanced the overall design of the DAM environment. This was made possible thanks to collaboration with our partner company Iconosquare and their design team, who were perfectly integrated into our UX process. The result is that using the DAM is not only intuitive but also visually appealing and presents our clients’ assets in the best possible way.
The first was the need for substantial investment in Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology in order to keep up with the pace of change. Meaning that if you want to be a leader, you have to invest a lot in order to keep up. At Wedia, we have reorganized the product team to ensure that there is always a squad monitoring AI developments, which means we can quickly integrate new developments into our solution.
A second challenge which is intrinsically linked to the first, is about how we can maintain this kind of rhythm whilst ensuring that our team isn’t overworked. So, we have really worked on quality of life within Wedia, by employing a bottom-up approach to management through regular workshops and meetings, which allow for the sharing of ideas and expertise. We are also very vigilant about monitoring our planning and schedules to make sure that no one has too much on their plate. By doing this, we are able to maintain the pace of technological change, because even though we are in a sector which changes quickly, we always have to think about the long-term vision.
I was really taken back by how quickly our clients adopted using AI. They became experts in this field incredibly quickly, and they integrated this into their processes without hesitation, despite how new the technology was.
There was an incredible appetite for taking full advantage of AI which was a very pleasant surprise for us, and we have seen many examples of our clients using AI within their projects.
I have two main ones. At the moment the latest AI improvements are developed in a dedicated environment, because it is so new. In 2024 this is all going to change and AI is going to be everywhere, and at the core of the technology we use. This means AI will be woven into the DAM. For example, being able to quickly add an AI-generated background to a product packshot for an ecommerce website will be seamless.
What’s more, when adding a new image to the DAM, a sophisticated image captioning tool will be able to perfectly describe the image in a highly detailed way. Therefore, for many actions that you are carrying out within the DAM, they are being powered by AI without you even realizing it.
A second major trend is related to eco-design. Our clients are now very aware of this subject and are actively seeking it out as part of their sustainability strategies. It is very important and means we must now offer solutions which are actively working to reduce digital carbon footprints. Because with the arrival of more video content, storage needs are naturally increasing, we need to be more conscious of reducing digital reliance in other ways and demonstrating exactly how we are doing this.
Whilst AI is increasing content production, thinking in an eco-design way means thinking before starting any project about how emissions can be reduced. There is always a way to reduce this if it is carefully considered. For example, if we think about AI-based auto captioning for images, if not employing an eco-design approach, you would use a large server which would be constantly turning until a batch of images arrived to be captioned. With eco-design the server is off until a batch of images arrive at which point it turns on, as it doesn’t cost much to turn a server on and off at the right moment. It’s all about having a conscious approach to any new project, totally ingrained into our project methodology.
We are really going to focus on incorporating the power of AI into the DAM environment and to enhance the personalization of the content within the DAM.
There has long been talk of moving from mass marketing to personalized marketing but it was impossible to really achieve through manpower alone. We’re now going to be able to carry out marketing which is perfectly targeted to the individual. This is going to be more successful for the consumer as each message will be crafted based on what they are really interested in. Now thanks to AI this is going to be possible as we focus on the ROI (Return on Investment) that our clients are looking for, for example marketing teams will have more time to focus on creative tasks instead of having to carry out time-consuming ones.
I really believe that what we will see in terms of technological advances in 2024 is going to be a once in a lifetime experience, to have such a breakthrough which is going to infiltrate all our technological tools is massive.