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Gunter Leonhardt, PEAK-14: “digitalisation is not just a buzzword, it is a reality”

Managing digital assets is one of the many changes brought about by the digital age.

Any company that wants to scale and manage teams effectively needs digital asset management (DAM). Having an efficient system for storing data safely and securely is undoubtedly essential, but it's way more important to actually understand what it is and why your organization needs it.

Therefore, we sat down with Gunter Leonhardt, CEO of PEAK-14 – the manufacturer of Cavok, a flexible and highly integrated digital asset management system.

Let’s go back to the very beginning of the Cavok development. What has the journey been like since the launch in 2011?

Even before 2011, we had noticed that the existing DAM systems did not provide many of those functions that we and our customers wanted to use for data management. At first glance, many of the systems on the market at the time had similar standard functions.

Unfortunately, they still left a lot to be desired when it came to additional features, project implementation functions, and costs. I started developing Cavok as I had already decided to set up something on my own when I was still with my previous company.

Mr. Axel Dohmann, who sadly passed away way too soon, had already wanted me to work for his group of companies way ahead of time and was enthusiastic about the idea of offering his own digital asset management system. Thus, it happened that we founded the company PEAK-14 GmbH. We started as a pure system house, back then without Cavok. But as I said, it had already been clear to me before that we needed our own DAM system.

So, when we had the opportunity to acquire Cavok rights from my previous company, we were able to get started straight away to realise our vision. And just imagine, back then it was only the two of us… In the meantime, we have achieved a lot: the PEAK-14 team now consists of more than 20 employees taking care of Cavok.

Can you introduce us to your digital asset management software and its key features?

In a nutshell, the software is used for organising, editing and distributing digital data. Anyone working with digital content, such as agencies, publishers or marketing teams, could use Cavok for their purposes. This may sound simple, but the implementation is not that easy.

In today's world, different people work on projects simultaneously, but mostly not in the same office or even in the same country. They use a variety of applications for different purposes. It is tricky to align workflows and connect the respective programmes.

However, the advantages are obvious: coordination can be eliminated because only one master document is used, the search for files is minimised, and most workflows can be automated. Basically, this is the main feature of our software. The software and its architecture can be linked to the most common applications. As a result, company-specific processes can be precisely defined and demonstrated, and employees can work much more efficiently.

What distinguishes us from other manufacturers is that the software is definitely hosted on your own servers, i.e. "on-premise", which means more security and more control for the users. We also offer automatic monitoring of the file systems, which is another unique selling point. And on top of that, Cavok offers a flexible, modular architecture, which means we can meet almost any customer requirement individually.

What problems are faced by organizations using improper digital asset management solutions?

The answer is easy: chaos. Digitalisation is not just a buzzword, it is a reality! Marketing and communication are more and more done in a digital way. Existing content is digitalised, and new content is almost exclusively created in digital form anyway. YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Tiktok, newsletters, company websites, blogs, podcasts, etc.

These channels have only emerged in the last 10-20 years, and the “old“ communication channels, such as print, TV, and radio, also exist. And they all like to be "fed“ with data and content. The amount of digital content has exploded in recent years, and to keep track, it is no longer sufficient to save the flood of files in neatly named folders and hope for everyone to understand the structure and find the correct file.

In addition, time and resources play an increasingly important role. In order to be on top of the game and not be outcompeted, you either need more staff or more time. Unfortunately, there is often a lack of both. A certain degree of process automation can definitely assist companies.

How have recent global events affected your workspace? As a result, have you added any new features to the system?

Due to recent global events, the need for more flexible work options has rapidly increased within the last two years. People want and need to be able to work at any location and access their data from anywhere.

Therefore, for a more efficient and user-friendly way of working, we have ensured that employees can access files both directly and indirectly without a VPN.

Recently, maintaining creativity has been a serious struggle for some organisations. How can companies foster creativity and innovation with so many employees working remotely?

This is indeed a difficult question. In my opinion, the best ideas come up during team meetings, and there is no tool that will ever replace personal encounters. However, the current tools on the market are mostly able to simulate those team meetings. For example, Zoom or Microsoft Teams allow you to look at a file together, discuss and edit it.

Of course, this can also be done at a later stage. It is important to always use the same file and not to exchange different versions back and forth via e-mail. This is where Cavok plays its trumps and offers easy solutions. In short: companies can foster creativity by at least providing their employees with adequate tools to simulate a feeling of belonging to the community.

Why do you think companies are reluctant to try new and innovative solutions that would actually improve their operations?

I would say that many companies are afraid of making mistakes and taking risks. They assume that their current solutions can be assessed much better in terms of effort, cost control, and adaptation of the employees, and therefore they trust their systems in use and prefer them to new ones.

In fact, the above-mentioned factors could carry some risks. What if costs rapidly rise or staff do not accept the new solution? When choosing a new tool, costs should be carefully analysed, specified and made transparent to everyone in the cause of the project.

In order to find an adequate solution, it is also important to precisely define the previous issues regarding the data flood in advance with everyone affected and involved. And it is not only about the management, but about every single person who is supposed to work with the tool on a daily basis. It is essential to inform and involve everyone in a transparent way prior to the acquisition and introduction of a new tool.

When all these aspects are taken into account, it is easier to choose a provider - regardless of whether it is a new and innovative solution or a tried and tested one.

In the age of ever-evolving technology, what do you think are the most important security measures that both companies and individuals should take care of?

Both companies and individuals in private surroundings should take more responsibility when it comes to security. Many people and companies outsource the security topic, which could be a big mistake, especially when relying on server solutions abroad.

Companies and individuals should definitely get acquainted with data security in order to know what is important and where to pay attention.

How do you think the marketing industry will develop in the next few years?

This is hard to say. The most important thing will be finding new customers and target groups, winning their trust, and, above all, keeping them as loyal customers in the long run. Data will play an increasingly important role because only a few people can still be convinced by classic advertising.

Advertising messages will be more and more tailored precisely to the customers‘ needs, but this can only be done with the right data. Social media and search engines, with their targeting options, are playing a greater role here. Tools for analysing customer behaviour are also becoming more popular and will be used more and more. We are becoming increasingly data-driven when it comes to decision-making.

What is more, in the medium to long term, topics such as marketing automation and AI will become more and more important. AI will be used in many areas. It won't be long before the first algorithms understand people better than people understand themselves. Even if people think they are unique and cannot be influenced by advertising, countless studies and experiments prove otherwise. People's patterns of behaviour are more and more being decoded so that precise recommendations for action can be made, which leads to making future decisions based on these recommendations – consciously or unconsciously.

Look at Google Ads. Ads are no longer produced and played out as one ad precisely but in the form of text modules, and Google individually designs them for the users. This is why people definitely feel personally addressed. In the end, those with the best and most precise data will also have the best marketing strategies.

Would you like to let us know what the next steps for Cavok are?

We have just finished file version support, including a visual comparison between versions. The new version will be available very soon. Within the third quarter of 2022, we will release a version that includes support for 3D data.

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