The Digital Age is now fully upon us

"The digital age is now fully upon us. After years of over-hyped speculation about new technologies and mediums, they're all seemingly ready to take-off, and all at the same time. Is your business ready for it?" asks Marcus Brennand of New Media Production Company, Digital Marmalade.

Technology is only just catching up with expectations of what it should be able to do. The very experience of using the web is radically changing with the advent of broad-bandwidth, voice activation, Interactive Television (iDTV), third generation mobile phones, web enabled games consoles and PDAs.

So how is your business or brand going to cope with this vast array of new technologies? Managing your digital assets for these platforms will prove to be a tricky business, if attention is not paid to your digital strategy. In the digital age anything that can give your company a leading edge could be the difference.

The convergence of technology is now evident, everything has 'gone digital' including the mobile phone system, the television network and a vast array of connections to the Internet. The information delivered through these systems can all reside in one virtual location.

Let's just look at the company website, the days of brochure-on-the-web are fast disappearing; more functionality is being built into everything. Not only that but new compressions, technologies and Internet speeds are beginning to change the way a website will look and work. Early adopters to these advances will reap the rewards.

You could look at the Internet as being at the dawn of its third generation. The first, being the closed, text-based, military and academic communication system; the second, being commercialisation and globalisation, with limited graphics and animation; the third being interactive, full screen video on the web.

Advances in technologies such as Flash, QuickTime and Shockwave, coupled with faster web connections mean the web is rapidly moving away from a static HTML-based medium to a much more dynamic, immersive and graphically-rich multimedia experience. The ability to channel video live down the Internet will lead to a complete overhaul in the way a site looks. Video and sound will be very important in retaining your sites' visitors and offering value added services.

Digital Marmalade has been involved in the production of many websites and multimedia projects for the likes of Sony, Barclays, Telewest, Nokia and Aon, for the past 3 years. We believe that websites will take on the CDROM model, where interfaces are built in a fixed area (no scrolling) and the interaction with information is much more engrossing and intuitive. In fact, many people believe that, within 3 years, the majority of websites will be redesigned first and foremost for the TV screen.

There is no doubt that sooner or later you will have to have a presence on iDTV, WAP phones, broad-bandwidth websites, micro-sites, intranet and extranet sites. All these platforms work differently, but they are all digital. Managing each of these delivery mechanisms is going to be quite some task, as your current website may be proving.

Digital Marmalade believes the answer lies in the management of the elements contributing to the sites. By efficiently manipulating a multimedia database (which houses everything from video, text, sound, animations, artwork, prices, photos, anything!), these digital assets can be used to cross-fertilise the various delivery platforms.

For example, let's consider that your company sells cars. The database could house television adverts of the car, pictures of the interior, video feedback from satisfied drivers, press articles, a selection of driving tunes, a interactive 3D model of the car, prices and specifications.

This information will service every platform; information suitable for broadband websites will be pulled from the database through the specific protocols. WAP phones, for example, will select only the text elements and maybe the music. Similarly different media elements will populate iDTV and the current model of websites.

The advantages to this approach are many:

  • Consistent branding and message on all platforms
  • Cost effective management of information
  • The ability to make changes without the programming knowledge of each of the platforms
  • An easy way to keep all platforms up-to-date
  • Ability to generate content on the fly
  • An Integrated database to capture information

Digital Marmalade specialises in three areas; multimedia productions, web technologies and digital video. We offer our clients a one-stop shop for the production of these media elements and help structure and implement systems that can be managed by our clients.

As the technology advances, businesses will have more demands thrust upon them, by customers and clients. More emphasis will be put on planning your digital strategy; it's becoming a complex procedure. Start with effective information and multimedia asset management.

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