The North Plains/Xinet Acquisition: Not A DAM Game-Changer

Guest post from Researcher Anjali Yakkundi

North Plains, a legacy pure-play digital asset management (DAM) vendor based out of Toronto, Ontario, announced today that it has agreed to buy fellow pure-play DAM vendor Xinet. The DAM market is fragmented and, with a few exceptions (Adobe, Autonomy, EMC, and OpenText), is littered with smaller, proprietary players. We’ve long expected moves in this market, but most of the focus has been on the larger DAM players in the market or the larger content management or customer experience vendors that have no DAM solution (such as IBM).

With this acquisition of Xinet, North Plains moves to become one of the few, if not only, midmarket pure-play DAM player in between the big guns and the pure-play small vendors. What else does North Plains get out of the acquisition?

  • A platform solution aimed at creative professionals. Xinet has found success targeting creative professionals and supporting assets at the beginning of the content life cycle.
  • Increased regional reach. More than many other pure-play North American-based DAM vendors, Xinet targets European and Asian customers. North Plains gains a much more global customer base and will inherit channels partners across the globe. Watch for this to be just the first of many moves to make North Plains a global, pure-play DAM vendor.  
  • A stronghold among advertising agencies. Xinet has penetrated the advertising vertical and counts many of these larger names among its clients. With the acquisition, North Plains gains a foothold into this coveted vertical.

So what is North Plains planning to do with Xinet? It plans to include Xinet’s platform as another offering in its portfolio, which already includes the on-premises TeleScope platform and a lighter-weight TeleScope SaaS offering. North Plains will position Xinet as the platform that supports the front end of the content life cycle (to support creative professionals) and TeleScope as the platform to support the more business-oriented, end-of-content-life-cycle needs. North Plains will continue to offer the SaaS solution as a lighter-weight alternative.

But this move won’t be earth shattering. Why?

  • Having two DAM platforms isn’t an attractive option to most buyers. Forrester rarely talks to organizations that are looking to implement two different DAM solutions (finding the money for one DAM platform is hard enough!). If anything, most hope that existing solutions will handle rich media concerns. But ultimately, North Plains has just bought itself another platform to serve as a repository — frankly, a platform that lacks TeleScope’s robustness.  
  • This strategic direction is straight from DAM’s past. This move is about penetrating deeper into the creative world and becoming a larger pure-play vendor. But this isn’t DAM’s future. DAM’s future is as part of the integrated customer experience management (CXM) solution set. North Plains needs to build partnerships and deeper integrations with other CXM systems such as WCM, eCommerce, MRM, etc. This acquisition just makes DAM a bigger silo instead of breaking down the DAM silo. Forrester clients are far more concerned with supporting globalized/localized content, integration with existing CXM systems, stronger workflow support, and better video support. The acquisition of Xinet solves none of these problems. It’s just more of the same old, same old.

Other vendors in this space won’t lose much sleep over this deal. Technology-wise, current North Plains customers likely have little to worry about (except perhaps to fend off attempts to sell yet another DAM platform). Xinet customers should, rightly so, be cautious about what this means for the Xinet platform. Already less robust than the TeleScope platform, will Xinet’s WebNative Suite get the necessary time and attention to increase functionality?

 Thoughts?

Comments

We are a Xinet Integrator.

We are a Xinet Integrator. More and more we are using Xinet as 'service' within an integrated solution, supporting an editorial workflow or eMedia solution for example, rather than a stand-alone DAM. We hope this purchase will lead to better integration possibilities and a richer feature seat from future products. If this happens it will a successful acquisition from customer's perspective.

Agreed, but only for traditional use-cases

I agree that this will help customers who are using DAM in production-heavy use cases (e.g. media, entertainment, publishing verticals). But this isn't where we see growth in the DAM industry- we see growth in supporting rich media marketing collateral and in supporting online/multichannel rich media. While this move helps North Plains for traditional DAM use-cases, I don't think this move alone helps for more rapidly growing DAM use-cases. We'll be publishing a DAM Wave in the next few weeks that better outlines where we think the industry is going, in case you're interested.

Possitive for Xinet customers

As a solution provider that considers Xinet a core component of our solutions, we welcomed the news and saw mainly positives for Xinet customers.

Having had more time to speak with North Plains and Xinet over the last couple of weeks, our initial thoughts of this being a net benefit have only been confirmed.

North Plains are committed to investing in the current Xinet product as they clearly recognize the products have distinct and complimentary feature sets. This acquisition was not made to push Telescope onto the current Xinet customer base although it will eventually give the higher tiers a clearer path to different features.

North Plains have committed to maintaining and improving the investment value of current Xinet customers and are spending time with potential customers ensuring they feel enthusiastic over the future of the products.

As the current North Plains products have little overlap in functionality or price point to Xinet's, we are looking forward to the combination of increased investment, cross pollination of technology and a wider, complimentary product range.

The future is brighter for DAM customers in this space.

Good to hear such positive

Good to hear such positive feedback, thanks Nigel