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?