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With the increasing emphasis on asset management, I decided to do some research on the topic. After only a few hours, I was up to my assets in terms, acronyms and diagrams, many of which were confusing, contradictory and just plain wrong.

I learned that every vendor claims to have “The Solution” to storing, accessing and playing out content. That wasn't surprising. What surprised me was the similarity in the underlying technologies, yet how differently these products are marketed.

Yes, there are differences between the various systems, but basically, asset management technology allows you to find something and use it after you've recorded and stored it. Now how hard can that be? Well, according to these guys, it's quite hard — unless, of course, you buy their solution.

What I learned quickly in my brief investigation was the variety of terms used to describe the same thing. To some vendors, content (programs and commercials) is simply considered assets. Other companies call it media, and still other vendors call it rich media. I guess that's opposed to poor media. Right?

Anyway, once you've got an asset, you have to manage it. That could include a variety of tasks, from just tracking its use to adding usage rights or selling it (over and over again).

Anyway, these vendors would like to help you manage that asset. To do that, you need their asset management, media asset management, content management, broadcast inventory management or digital asset management system. In other words, according to these guys, you need an AM, MAM, CM, BIM and/or DAM. Confused yet?

If the acronyms aren't confusing enough, just stay tuned. My research found this vendor phrase: The tasks are based on a business driver that comes from a strategy, which produces a digital umbrella solution. Where did the digital umbrella come from, and what the heck does that mean?

With one vendor, I used the term “edge server.” I was quickly informed that his company didn't like to use the term “edge server” because it had, in his words, “developed a negative connotation.”

“OK, so what do you call it?” I ask.

“It's a ‘local server,’” he said.

Semantics, I thought.

Another term that's apparently gotten a bad name is “centralcasting.” In the USA, the term is practically synonymous with firing people. And because anything that hints of getting rid of people is off limits, the new and improved definition is “improved workflow.” That reminds me of the adage, “If it looks like a duck and flies like a duck, it must be a duck,” so workflow this, buster.

By now, it was obvious that there was enough confusion in this arena that a dose of clarification was needed. To help readers better understand this confusing technology, we've developed an article on the complex subject. The enlightening elixir begins on page 24.

I hope you enjoy getting a better understanding of asset management. If not, let me know, and I'll improve the workflow of your digital umbrella.

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