Eric Fulmer of ShotFlow One (Capture Integration) is one of the sharpest minds within the fashion photography industry. I recently read an article he wrote that referenced the massive shift that the fashion industry has undergone in recent years, known as the “Zara Effect”. For those not familiar, Zara has set the benchmark in reducing time to market in that they “can design, produce, and deliver a new garment and put it on display in its stores worldwide in a mere 15 days”. This represents a massive acceleration of previous development cycles which once spanned seasons, then months, weeks, and now days.
This is the new race that modern brands must run in order to compete and, ultimately, survive.
To compete, brands must transform their overall approach to creative production and identify any gaps that have the potential to force delays. And, as Fulmer states, “(…) there really are only three levers available to pull.”
The culture must be willing to analyze their processes and systems objectively. To be blunt, learn to accelerate your creative production, and, in so doing, reduce your time to market, or die.
But proper acceleration has two benchmarks – efficiency and effectiveness. People often confuse them, but they are very different. Efficiency is about speed, while effectiveness is about quality. If you accelerate, yet produce low quality visual assets you have not improved your creative production process.
How To Create Efficiency And Effectiveness With Technology
At present, moving to a cloud-based creative production collaboration platform is the most impactful way to drive both efficiency and effectiveness. It creates an accessible “single source of truth”, for all of your visual assets. But cloud access and redundancy is just the starting point.
In-app collaboration tools such as markups, commenting, or @mentions to other stakeholders are essential in reducing friction by allowing all communication to occur directly within the same interface used for file access and sharing. And this collaboration strategy must be mobile to respond to the world we live in so that collaboration can happen from anywhere and on any device.
Each connected system must inherit any input previously made on an asset, picking up and displaying metadata or ratings made on other systems. This ‘linking’ of asset inheritance provides full business continuity and, picking up on another concept from Fulmer, makes those assets “smart”, whereby they can inform their own process in the creative production process.
And during the review process a platform should drive efficiency with fast previews, regardless of the file size or format. This is a key differentiator in the effectiveness between a visual asset management platform and simple online storage. You should be able to view those images in whatever visually appealing layout you require – one at a time with deep zoom, full screen, contact sheet, list or side-by-side comparison. And as you add markups, annotations and comments the history of that asset becomes compiled, searchable, and forever accessible, providing visibility into the production lifecycle of each image.
Technology that provides these guidelines will not only improve a team’s overall efficiency, but ensure the organization’s effectiveness in going from concept to market.
Let’s Dive Even Deeper
Creative production and operations have forever changed due to the “Zara Effect”. That is why I am very excited to attend the first Creative Operations Exchange in San Francisco on April 10-11, 2017. I will be monitoring a panel discussion “Workflow solutions – Find the tool to boost your team’s creative process!”
I hope you’ll register so we can meet face to face to dive even deeper into how technology can accelerate your creative production.