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How to Help Creative Businesses Survive and Thrive in Covid Times

Cloud technology providers like Nasuni often talk about agility, and the flexibility our platforms provide. Now that companies have been forced to adapt to this strange new coronavirus world of doing business, we’re starting to see more and more concrete examples of how this isn’t just cloud marketing speak. It’s real.

One great example among our clients is IDL Worldwide, a division Matthews International. The firm works with leading consumer brand companies to create unique consumer shopping experiences. IDL’s unique approach leading projects from concept design to production of retail deployment requires the use of virtual teams spread across several locations, skill sets and disciplines. The firm also started moving its file storage and data protection infrastructure to the cloud with Nasuni and AWS in 2017.

Remote Access to Files with Nasuni and AWS

Prior to working with Nasuni and AWS, IDL’s virtual teams would use various web-based tools from FTP to email to share project files throughout the lifecycle of a project. “We recognized the need for a more consistent and secure approach but didn’t want to sacrifice the simplicity of provisioning access via the web.” – says Scott Hamilton, Creative Director at IDL Print. “Implementing Nasuni on AWS, we were able to preserve our teams’ productivity, provisioning users access to their files from any browser while also consolidating and protecting our files with Nasuni’s file system running in AWS Simple Storage Service (S3).”

This proved especially helpful as the Covid-19 pandemic forced the firm, like so many others, to shift to a work-from-home model. “With over half of our staff already using Nasuni web access, we were able to easily pivot to a complete remote work scenario, extending web access to all users.” – says Hamilton.

Improving Collaboration for Creative Teams

IDL was benefiting from its transition to Nasuni and AWS long before the pandemic struck. In 2017 IDL plotted out a 5-year growth plan, and realized they needed a collaboration infrastructure that would support their unique value proposition. Unlike traditional agencies, IDL takes creative projects all the way through design, building, and deployment. When the company took a hard look at how its distributed teams collaborated and the amount of file data that needs to be stored, shared, and synchronized across offices for each client project, it realized there were many opportunities for improvement. So, IDL brought its IT and creative leaders together to map out a strategy that would truly help the company scale both its client base and project size, while increasing efficiency in its IT operations. The results are detailed in the Nasuni  webinar “Improving Collaboration for Creative Teams”.

In the webinar, IDL’s Manager of Graphics Solutions, David Cottman, and Senior Creative Director, Bryan Boul, detail how the company achieved its new Skybox vision with Nasuni and AWS. The benefits include:

1. Accelerated Project Delivery

On any given project, IDL has Adobe Creative Cloud application files related to design, 3D renderings, production art, manufacturing, and printing, to name a few. Previously, these Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, and Premiere files and their associated images resided on laptops, file servers in multiple offices, and other hard-to-track locations. Up to 20 copies of a 1 GB file might have been stored in different places at one time.

Now, IDL has a single gold copy of each file stored by Nasuni’s global file system in AWS S3. Local copies of just the actively used files are cached on Nasuni Edge Appliances to give users in all locations fast, local access. This has saved IDL’s creative teams a tremendous amount of time, facilitated quicker back-and-forth reviews with clients, and generally enabled the firm to complete projects faster.

2. Streamlined Workflow with Clients and Partners

To share Adobe Creative Cloud application files, video, audio, and CAD/CAM project files between offices, IDL was using a whole batch of file transfer solutions, including Aspera, Mass Transit, and FTP, along with local file servers and private network bandwidth.

Nasuni’s global file system, which uses faster and more affordable Internet bandwidth to synchronize only the tiny fragments of files that change across all locations, has given IDL a shared collaborative workspace that works both internally and externally. Now, everyone can work out of the same folder structure, all governed by strict and easy-to-manage permissions and rules.

3. Balance Between IT & Business Needs

Like many large enterprises, IDL had to find the balance between what its business units need and what IT can afford. The designers want the best tools possible to get their work done as efficiently as possible. IT has to work within its budget.

In Nasuni, both groups are getting what they need. Yet the platform also shifts the burden of work away from IT.  “We gave the team the resources they need to be able to collaborate with our clients securely but also not bog down IT with requests for special tools,” says Cottman

4. Shared Resources Between Offices

IDL has 3D rendering farms in Pittsburgh and Portland, Oregon. Nasuni’s global file system enables both farms to connect to the same shared volume. This way, if the rendering farm in Pittsburgh is overworked, the creative team in that office can use the one in Portland to process their visualizations. Nasuni is helping IDL utilize all its distributed resources – human and computer – all the time.

Webinar Available On-Demand

In the webinar, Cottman and Boul go into much more detail regarding how their new global file system is improving collaboration across the company, eliminating redundant solutions, and generally transforming IDL’s business. The webinar recording is available on-demand to watch here, and I encourage any enterprise struggling to manage collaboration across distributed creative teams to take a look.

This blog was originally published on February 27, 2018 under the title Creative Agency IDL Worldwide Transforms its Business with a New Collaboration Strategy – Webinar Recap and has been updated and revised for this publication.

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