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Canto serves up food for thought – Print 21 magazine feature

Monday, 15 August 2011
By Print21

While the food from the rooftop of the Reichstag may not have been to Ricky Patten’s liking, the quality of the fare served up by software developer, Canto, on the topic of digital asset management certainly tickled his tastebuds. Serkan Ozturk reports.

Here’s a scenario: You’re a business executive on an overseas trip to Germany, eager to see the latest product developments in your field. On opening night, your new German friends say they are taking you and other guests out for dinner at a secret location.

They ask each of you to bring passports. Not a usual dinner request, but so far, no problem. ‘Perhaps they’re flying us out to Switzerland,’ you ponder. After a stretch of travel you reach the well-guarded destination. It’s the Reichstag—home to the Bundestag, the German parliament. ‘There’s a restaurant in there?’ you wonder. There sure is—on the rooftop, east to the building’s famous dome. Opulent and grand!

So, then, what’s the quandary? Can’t say there is one. Well, not unless you happen to be vegetarian and still hoping for a decent feed. Just like Ricky Patten, the managing director of north Queensland-based DataBasics, was one evening only a few weeks ago.

Patten’s visit to the Käfer Restaurant in late March as part of a partners meeting for German-based Canto turned out to be not quite as filling as he had hoped for, despite sitting next to Russell Pyne, chairman of Canto’s board of directors and another vegetarian to boot.

Pictured: Relaxing at the Reichstag: from top left clockwise: Uli Knocke, CEO of Canto; Russell Pyne, chairman of Canto’s board of directors; Franz Preuss, CEO of SCS Solid Computer AG, Canto’s distributor in Switzerland; and Ricky Patten, managing director of DataBasics.

“We got served about three courses and everybody else got served about five courses. And they were all getting things like lamb and meats like that. I believe the meal for them was very good but I wouldn’t really recommend the Reichstag for a vegetarian meal,” he laughs.

This is DAM good though

While Patten wasn’t in Germany to hone his culinary criticism skills, he did spend time in Berlin getting to know the latest products from Canto, a firm specialising in Digital Asset Management (DAM). Canto is in its 21st year and is going from strength to strength, following up years of strong revenues with record profits in 2010. Patten puts it down to DAM “addressing a new need”.

Particularly impressive, he says, is the competitively-priced Canto Cumulus 8.5, a cross-platform solution that enables companies to easily organise, find, share and track their ever-increasing numbers of digital files.

“It’s all got to do with the actual media that really encompasses a creative person’s expression—and that is the highest value thing there is in business. You can pay so much for a business consultant or a sales person, but you will pay more per hour for someone’s creative ability, probably twice as much,” Patten says.

And how does a company actually receive that creative ability? Well, more and more of it comes in the form of multimedia, whether that’s a logo, a photograph, a video or an audio file.

“You know a document is probably worth hundreds of dollars but a really good brand photo is worth up to tens or hundreds of thousands,” Patten suggests, “and people are really starting to understand that and are taking on, and receiving, much more media.

It comes back to how to get across a marketing message. And how to do that is typically you provide really good media.”

Personalise your image

Relevant and good media in this day and age almost always refers to individuated and diverse information engaging the end consumer. It’s why there has been a big rush in the past decade or so to push personalised marketing messages, with research showing it as one of the most effective ways of procuring significant attention.

However, to this point, Variable Data Printing (VDP) has been met with mixed success as printers face the reality that the databases currently in existence don’t allow them to truly personalise data. A solution may be near, though.

“What really has come out is image personalisation,” Patten continues, “and with Printable buying the DirecType product last year, you can now basically take somebody’s name—company name or address—and paint it in some nice personalised fashion. And do so very cheaply and easily. That will give you a personalised message with the very scarce data that you actually have about the people.”

In this bold new age of ever-constant technological flux, more and more of us perhaps see communication as being closer to a multi-perspective interchange. For instance, it’s no longer a case of Mac or PC but both – and Sun, Solaris, UNIX and everything in between. The point is, people jump from one to the other.

The well-regarded HELIOS, another German-based software company that started off life by offering communica­tion connectivity to different operating platforms, has noticed this trend and has included in its new UB2 server software a simple WebShare Manager product which automatically synchronises data from a file transfer between two locations.

So, for example, while I do photo editing on an image you sent me, the file is being saved back onto your server just as it is being saved on to my workstation.

“This has been something more like Star Trek in the past, to have this synchronisation between an independent consultant and corporate companies, but with HELIOS it’s now a practical selling product you can buy out of the box,” Patten says enthusiastically.

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