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Creative Agency IDL Worldwide Transforms its Business with a New Collaboration Strategy – Webinar Recap

Nasuni’s “Customer First” webinar series gives our customers a platform to share their experiences and business results from modernizing their file infrastructure with our enterprise file services platform.

In our most recent webinar, “Improving Collaboration for Creative Teams,” the project leaders at top retail brand firm IDL Worldwide discuss the critical transformation their business made once they realized efficient cross-office file collaboration is key to the company’s 5-year growth strategy.

Project “Skybox” for Improved Collaboration

After attracting an impressive client list that includes Coca Cola, Nickelodeon, Chick-fil-A, and North Face, IDL, a division of branding giant Matthews International, was growing fast. To accommodate this growth, IDL planned to expand from 3 offices to 5, setting up virtual teams across the US and vertically integrating its design-to-build infrastructure.

But that wasn’t enough. What was missing in IDL’s growth strategy was a collaboration infrastructure that would support their unique value proposition. Unlike traditional agencies, IDL takes projects all the way through design, building, and deployment. Focused design teams made up of graphic designers, artisans, photographers, builders, and craftsmen from many different locations prototype a “customer experience” display, room, or building. The final step is done onsite. For example, for North Face, IDL installed a unique “Outpost” area at over 600 Dick’s Sporting Goods stores, with IDL employees and contractors handling the entire rollout.

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, it took the unusual step of bringing 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 result was a strategy called “Skybox” that includes a whole new file infrastructure, plus company-wide training and system documentation.

Skybox Results

In the webinar, I interview IDL’s Manager of Graphics Solutions, David Cottman, and Senior Creative Director, Bryan Boul, to learn how their strategy unfolded and what the challenges were. Here are some of the results IDL has already been able to achieve with its new Skybox collaboration strategy based on Nasuni enterprise file services.

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 cloud storage. 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. Says Cottman, “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.”

4. Easy Expansion to New Locations

As IDL looks to expand into new markets and accelerate growth, it is looking for ways to improve efficiency and control costs. For example, standing up a new, temporary office near a major client won’t necessarily yield positive returns if that location requires expensive hardware and 90 days to come online.

Nasuni’s global file system has already helped address these needs. To integrate its new facility in Baltimore, IDL simply added a 4 TB Nasuni Edge Appliance to cache the actively used work files. The new location was fully deployed in less than a day, and it now has fast access to the most recent versions of files, but without the need for MPLS or expensive, full-sized file servers.

“In the future, as we grow and scale and go into other markets, we’re only looking at a 2 to 6 TB Nasuni appliance, depending on what kind of work we’re going to be doing,” Cottman explains. “We can have limited hardware resources in those locations but still give our project teams and our clients fast access to project files.”

5. 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.

If you’re a Nasuni customer and would like to be the star of a future webinar, let me know! Email me at ablanchard (at) nasuni dot com.