MarTech Interview with Jeff Olsen, Director of Product at Image Relay

Explore our insightful Martech Interview with Jeff Olsen, a seasoned Director of Product at Image Relay. Gain valuable insights into the evolving landscape of marketing technology, as Jeff shares his expertise and experiences in this illuminating discussion.
MarTech Interview

What do you focus on as the Director of Product at Image Relay?

I’ve been with Image Relay for just about two years, taking over the Director of Product role three months ago. I focus on continuously defining and delivering innovative product capabilities—designed to stay ahead of customers’ evolving needs—via our Marketing Delivery and Asset Library products.

Organizations across industries struggle to keep product information and digital marketing assets continually accurate, organized, and available to their customers, partners, and employees. Brands often come to us with their product information dispersed and deeply siloed within different departments and tools, while digital assets reside across a chaotic spread of cloud accounts and shared (or even local) hard drives. Our products align all those materials for easy access and distribution. This removes a big source of frustration that brands and marketing teams are, unfortunately, very accustomed to. I have an exciting role, ensuring that our products continue to deliver demonstrable and lasting efficiency gains for our customers.

As you see it, what are brands’ top three challenges in digital asset management right now?

In this part of the martech industry, I think the three biggest challenges right now are: 1) how do you internally get full command of your digital assets and product information, 2) how do you bridge the two, and 3) how do you deliver that data where it provides value? From my perspective, these three challenges have a single, holistic answer.

Brands demand tools for accurate digital asset management (DAM), and accurate product information management (PIM). They suffer when attempts to distribute information or assets to marketing and sales teams and business partners encounter errors and miscommunication. At a higher scale, distribution errors become more likely and more impactful. When an external creative agency you’re working with (for example) gets outdated materials, remediation is costly, time-consuming, and, in many cases, embarrassing. At the same time, even brands that have strong DAM or PIM struggle to fill the gap between those tools. DAM solutions aren’t designed to handle product information, and PIM solutions cannot store and handle assets. Neither is designed to align related information and assets, leaving brands with cumbersome and faulty workarounds.

We recently released our Marketing Delivery platform with these specific challenges in mind. By unifying product information and digital assets, organizations have a single source of truth and can provide instant, accurate, customized self-service access to teams and partners. As a result, brands gain a seamless path to omnichannel success.

How do you think advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning will impact the future of digital asset management?

I think there are a couple of ways that AI/ML will increasingly impact DAM:

One, AI content generation makes creating unique assets so much easier…that efficiently managing that asset influx is going to become exponentially more difficult.

Two, image recognition is another particularly large opportunity for AI/ML and DAM. AI/ML algorithms require tagged images to train and refine their ability to understand visual content and recognize particular objects and attributes. Once trained, AI/ML brings automation into organizing and accessing desired image assets, offering further efficiency gains.

Can you share a success story of a brand that has implemented Image Relay’s DAM solution and seen measurable results?

Kinder’s, which offers premium sauces and seasonings, came to us as a fast-growth brand that needed a strategy change to better utilize and disseminate its growing product information and digital asset resources. The brand’s rapidly expanding product lines meant that daily updates were necessary to keep SKU details always accurate, and to enable marketers to tell brand stories consistently and effectively.

Our Image Relay platform now organizes and maintains 200+ SKUs and 13,000+ assets for the brand. Introducing our platform had a transformative impact on the company’s internal efficiency, and has optimized access so that brand partners can now receive requisite materials instantly. This optimization has positioned Kinder’s to pursue further high-value growth initiatives, and tell its brand stories with confidence.

In your opinion, what role does UX play in the success of a digital asset management platform?

UX is just as critical as DAM/PIM product capabilities. As with so many martech solutions, marketing teams (and others) don’t want overly-complex tools—or they will look for ways to avoid using them. If an overly-complex system isn’t being used, the entire production chain generating data for that system is devalued.

With DAM and PIM, it’s interesting: the marketing team and employee user experience in this realm (grappling with mountains of spreadsheets and scattered data storage) has been so bad, historically, that a fully streamlined UX stands out even more. From defining a single source of truth, to enabling omnichannel delivery and distribution, to putting information and assets into context….these are day-and-night UX changes within most brands. That superior internal user experience then shapes the customer experience that brands can deliver, ensuring accurate information and consistent brand experiences across touchpoints.

With the rise of remote work and distributed teams, how do you see digital asset management evolving to meet the changing needs of businesses?

A cloud-based DAM and PIM strategy is a smart fit for brands that now recognize their traditional tools are incongruent with their remote workforces. As mentioned, some brands still store digital assets across multiple sources (or worse, on local drives)—that is obviously a huge headache for distributed teams, and it increases the likelihood for business-hurting latency and errors. The time it is taking marketing teams (and others) to track down the right digital assets or product data, verify that what they have is actually the most current version, etc. is not negligible…especially at scale. That is time that is far better spent on business-growing initiatives (let alone contributing to a poor employee experience).

How does Image Relay ensure data security and compliance for its clients?

All data on our platform is encrypted at rest with the AES 256 encryption standard, and in transit with a 256-bit secure sockets layer (SSL). Large data backups are encrypted by AES as well. The platform maintains a 99.98% uptime, with availability and security monitoring conducted by a third party and backed by automated features. Highly granular and customizable access controls can limit users in the precise files they can view and actions they can take. We also are SOC 2 compliant, and have detailed reporting in place to track activities and take quick action in response to potential security and compliance threats.

How important is it for companies to have a solid brand management strategy, and how can a digital asset management platform like Image Relay help with that?

More than ever, delivering a consistent omnichannel brand experience and telling brand stories that resonate directly influence customer conversion, loyalty, and market share. It’s a must-have, not a nice-to-have. At a modern brand, the marketing and sales teams can’t be hunting for the right spreadsheets and tracking down lost assets while competitors with superior technology strategies handle all that instantly and run circles around them with new initiatives and campaigns.

Our work with Kinder’s offers a clear example highlighting how our Image Relay platform helps marketing teams optimize efficiency, work with partners, tell consistent brand stories, and drive business growth. Equip a brand with unified DAM and PIM capabilities and an intuitive interface for easy and accurate access and sharing of materials, and reaching marketing and sales goals becomes that much simpler.

In your experience, what are the key factors that contribute to successful product development, and how do you prioritize feature requests from users?

Successful product development is the result of effective interplay between design teams, development teams, and go-to-market feedback. Establishing open communication between teams with the right process—while aligning towards the same high-level goals and strategies—is an absolute must if you’re going to be more than a one-hit-wonder.

When product strategies and goals are communicated openly, the entire organization, from support to development, has a consistent understanding of why we’re doing what we’re doing. Feature requests are captured more effectively and categorized more consistently, whether it’s critical functionality or auxiliary observations. Critical functionality feature requests are prioritized most highly, followed by requests that are most relevant to our current product goals.

What advice do you have for businesses looking to streamline their digital asset management processes and improve their overall productivity?

Brands can and should make their DAM and PIM strategy a business accelerant, not a hurdle. They are quickly realizing a 360-degree view of their product data and digital assets is a critical variable that speeds time-to-market and makes content distribution much more consistent. Streamline these key components with the right strategy, and you enhance employee productivity while also directly contributing to business growth initiatives.

My advice is this: 1) opt for a unified DAM and PIM platform, and 2) don’t hesitate. When brands take the step to modernize their DAM and PIM strategies, they invariably wish they’d done so earlier.

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Jeff Olsen, Director of Product at Image Relay

Jeff Olsen is the Director of Product at Image Relay, whose customers use its technology to store, access, and share product information and digital assets. Jeff joined Image Relay in 2021 and moved to his current role this year. Previously, he held sales engineering and solutions engineering roles at the revenue intelligence platform InsightSquared and sales intelligence tool (since acquired by ZoomInfo). LinkedIn.
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