by Kenneth Rudich
(Editor’s Note: This is the first installment of a 4-part series.)
Many businesses are missing out on the payoff that comes from managing their digital media as a strategic asset. Is yours among them? Do you tend to treat your digital media like snowflakes instead of like Legos?
what is digital media?
For the purpose of this post, let’s define digital media as anything that can be stored in an electronic file and modified at will.
Now with that definition in mind, take a moment to consider just how prevalent digital media has become in our modern day lives. Or alternatively, try to recall moments in your day when you engaged in communications that didn’t have a digital footprint of some kind.
If you accept this challenge, then you’ll probably soon realize something potentially surprising. In fact, for most of us, digital media has gone from being fairly prevalent in our day-to-day existence to downright pervasive.
Sure, there are exceptions – like the casual chat you may have had with a colleague over coffee or the lively discussion that occurs at a family dinner table.
But these few isolated instances aside, chances are that a proportionately larger amount of your interactions somehow involve digital media — be it text-based, image-based, or aural in nature.
Even if the final product didn’t end up in a digital format, there’s a strong possibility it started out that way. For instance, the graphics and text for a print ad often initially take shape as an electronic file on someone’s computer. The same holds true for any paper documents you may have recently held, unless they were hand-written.
The point is that digital media has wended its way into nearly all of our daily communications activities.
When was the last time you attended a lecture or presentation in which PowerPoint or some other media wasn’t part of it?
Did you recently surf a website, send a text or email, watch a video or listen to music? If so, guess what kind of media you were likely using?
digital media reuse as a strategic asset
In today’s communications rich environment, we collectively produce and consume digital media on such a large scale that it’s easy to think nothing about it.
Unfortunately, this laissez-faire attitude can be disadvantageous for your business’s bottom line. The problem is that it too often results in the lost opportunity cost of failing to treat your digital media like a business asset — or more specifically, an inventory of reusable business assets.
Imagine for a moment the volume of digital content an average business can produce in the course of a week. The range of possibilities is as big and broad as the communications landscape itself. It’s typical for digital media to become incorporated into, or solely relied upon, during any of the following:
- face-to-face interactions, such as office meetings, presentations, speeches, conferences, trade shows, lectures, seminars, events, tours, contacts with colleagues or key officials, and focus groups;
- printed matter, such as letters, memorandums, reports, news letters, magazines, posters, journals, billboards, and postcards;
- electronic material, such as audio, video, intranets, email, web sites, webinars, blogs, social sites, wikis, listservs, and portals;
- other imagery, such as symbols, logos, and tag lines.
And really, that’s just scratching the surface. The amount of content that can amass over longer periods of time, or in larger organizations, is simply breathtaking.
But in terms of effectively leveraging it to extract cost savings and improve productivity, here’s the million dollar question: what happens to it after it’s been produced?
Is it treated like a snowflake, where it briefly serves only one purpose and then melts away and is forever lost?
Or is it treated like the pieces in a Lego set, where it can be assembled, disassembled and reassembled multiple times, across multiple platforms, and into multiple constructs and uses?
Media Snowflakes or Legos
Admittedly, some content should be treated like a snowflake, due to security, confidentiality or other justifiable concerns. But with that caveat said, the majority of it should be treated like the pieces in a Lego set — particularly when it holds the potential to be reused on multiple platforms, across time, and/or among different audiences.
This is where the second part of our definition of digital media comes into play – specifically, the fact that it can be modified at will. The capacity to easily modify it offers a wonderful opportunity to extend the useful shelf-life of it. Think of it as comparable to the difference between getting only 12 miles for a gallon of gas with your car fleet versus 40 miles to a gallon. As a business person, would you not have a strong preference for one over the other?
Perhaps more importantly is the question…HOW? How do you turn your digital media into a strategic business asset?
Marshaling Digital Media for Reuse
Marshaling your digital media well enough to make it an asset will hinge on successfully accomplishing three key tasks:
- Creating an infrastructure for storing it and sharing it across the entire business organization.
- Raising stakeholder awareness and getting buy-in for reusing digital media.
- Encouraging the communal creativity that not only makes it happen, but also makes it exceedingly worthwhile.
If you earnestly implement these three tasks, it will result in getting considerably more mileage out of your digital media.
A Digital Media Reuse Journey
In the next three installments about reuse, we’ll delve more deeply into exploring each separate task mentioned above. We’ll flesh it out, and we’ll illustrate how it contributes to the greater good of turning your digital media into a strategic business asset.