Fit for Purpose

Why WeTransfer, Dropbox and standard business tools aren’t an awesome fit for modern media workflows

The media industry is a hair-on-fire, deadline-driven industry where teams are often asked to do more and do it faster. Without the right solution in place, creative endusers and operations teams will often do whatever it takes to meet deadlines, even if that means circumventing their own IT department and finding their own methods to get the job done. This “shadow IT” can have devastating consequences, losing centralized visibility to activity and putting valuable media assets at risk. Creatives need speed and simplicity. Operations requires visibility and control. IT focuses on compliance and security. If these criteria are not met, something will have to give. The good news is there are tools available today that are fit for purpose, designed for the unique challenges of media and entertainment and that work for end users, operations and IT alike. 

We’ve seen many scenarios where teams have turned to standard file transfer services such as WeTransfer, Dropbox and Google Drive which are familiar and user friendly but aren’t designed for media assets. General purpose file sending and sharing tools do what they do very well, but they’re built for specific classes of assets — productivity documents like text, spreadsheet, or PDF files.

You can use business file sharing services for large media files, but because of inherent limitations, you’ll likely take a hit in the form of do-overs, missed deadlines, wasted time, torn-out hair, and ultimately your bottom line. Media companies have unique technical and workflow requirements. You need specific tools built to adhere to them. You need tools that are fit for purpose.

Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should

General purpose services are readily available and widely used. But using them within modern media operations exposes their weaknesses in costly and time-wasting ways. You can and should avoid these pitfalls:

  • Third-party control of your media on their storage. Because the third party chooses where your high-value assets are stored, you effectively relinquish control. Best practices mandate content owners maintain control over every asset on their storage of choice.
  • No acceleration. Without network optimization technology, large media files or volumes of media files will be on the slow boat to their destination. If time is of the essence in your media business, lack of an acceleration technology is a bottleneck.
  • No guaranteed reliability and predictability. Are you paying staff to babysit file transfers? Without built-in fail-safes like checkpoint restart, you are spending money twice — once on your service and again on staff to wait for it.
  • Limited control and visibility. While enterprise versions of services like Dropbox are available and do provide centralized visibility and control, they lack some of the other capabilities noted here. Serious problems arise when teams or end users deploy their own methods. With media workflows, there are also specific needs too: knowing where your files are in transit, when they will arrive, and who has accessed which files and when are all mission critical. Centralized control and visibility are imperative, as are alerts when transfers are complete or when something goes wrong.
  • Insecure partner exchange. Working with partners and exchanging content between companies is a requirement. Each party needs control of their storage and network while making it easy and secure to move content between parties. 
  • File size limitations. Many file sending services dictate limits on how large your files can be and/or how many you can move at once or in a given period. In the media and entertainment sector, large files — 100GB, 200GB, 400GB — are now the norm, not the exception. Limits are a nonstarter.

Any one of these can cause serious friction and frustration, or worse, negatively impact your business. If your tools are not properly suited to your purpose, your answer to a client or colleague’s request might be ‘not right now,’ ‘later,’ and possibly ‘no’. A specialized media transfer tool gives you the power to say ‘yes,’ no matter the circumstance.

So What is Fit for Purpose?

In contrast to general purpose file sending and sharing services, media-specific intelligent fit for purpose file transfer tools address overall technical requirements required across the content supply chain. 

A fit for purpose tool is one that meets stakeholder needs across the workflow:

  • Creatives need speed, reliability, and simplicity. When they send a file, they need to know it will arrive on time (and quickly).
  • Operations need to onboard new partners, add and remove users, control access and manage projects with ease — without IT intervention.
  • IT needs to optimize bandwidth, mitigate latency and packet loss, allow assets to reside on their choice of storage, and ensure rock-solid reliability.
  • Clients need easy access to their work and peace of mind that it’s safe from any potential security breach.

Technical requirements and people-based workflows are interconnected. If you’re an editor, compositor, animator, or colorist, you don’t want to become an IT tech and babysit that huge file to make sure it reaches its destination. You want to hit ‘send’, move on, and consider the job done. It’s a key difference and especially important in the dynamic of a modern media environment and stakeholder needs. 

The same scenario goes for IT, operations, and your client. Do they have the time or resources to worry about whether that high-stakes content is sitting on some far-flung server? Do subcontractors and freelancers have access to the files they need (and just as importantly — limited access to the files they don’t)? Is the client happy with the speed and ease of use in your delivery platform and iteration pipeline? 

When the right tools are provided that meet the needs of all constituents (IT, operations, and end users), there’s no need for shadow IT or teams finding their own way. 

“We were using a range of other products like WeTransfer, Dropbox and Box. We had so many different ones that were either client specified or just set up for specific reasons that it was very difficult to manage or help people if they had an issue.”

~Michael Ball, Post-Production Supervisor, Accord Productions

The Right Tool for Sending and Sharing Media Files

Employed by one million global users, Signiant Media Shuttle is an accelerated file transfer service that meets every creative, operational, and IT department requirement and more. By checking all the boxes, Media Shuttle is fit for purpose for media workflows:

Learn More About Media Shuttle
Optimizing fast file transfer technical requirements and stakeholder needs can positively affect business enablement and lead to better outcomes.

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