When will North Plains get its act together?

  • 16-May-2016

Second only to the recent calls I’ve received from stressed-out HP Media Bin customers fretting about the acquisition of MediaBin by OpenText, are the puzzled inquiries I get from among our subscriber base of longtime customers of North Plains. 

“Isn’t this the third CEO in four years? What’s the issue?

“Is OnBrand (former VYRE product) going to be sunsetted?”

"They seem to have no process for cloud deployments.”

"Sauder was gone. Now he’s back. Who owns the tech vision?”

"Why is the company such a revolving door of staff?”

North Plains, originally a company that sold one product called Telescope, later acquired VYRE and Xinet, ending up with three DAM tools that focused on very different areas of the asset management use case spectrum.Their attempts to define a cohesive strategy for the three products have been murky at best.

One approach presented to me by management in 2015 showed the three products (Telescope, Xinet, and On Brand) as a cohesive cloud-based platform called northplains.com, as a central hub, and alluded at an attempt to “appify” the three products. When I grilled the now-former CEO and CTO about the technical details of this approach, such simple questions such as “well where is the code base coming from — which product — or will you write it from scratch?” — the lack of a definitive answer made it clear that this was a “roadmap" without any roads.   

Since then, both the CEO and CTO have been replaced yet again, and Steve Sauder is also back with the firm (though not as CTO), perhaps an attempt to return North Plains to its glory days, when it frequently battled Open Text Media Manager and HP Media Bin for $1m+ enterprise DAM procurement contracts. The latest exec team replacements transpired several months ago now, but based on our ongoing interviews with North Plains customers, while on-site visits from NP management have picked up, the roadmap remains no clearer. Some of our enterprise subscribers are considering migrating off Telescope or OnBrand to the more modern darlings of DAM such as Bynder, Stylelabs, Celum, or even Adobe AEM Assets.

Steve Sauder was always the key driver of Telescope’s product vision; his return to the company may indeed represent its last and only hope. We’re all still waiting not only for the next chapter of this novel to be written, but even just for the author to get clear on the outline of the story. I’m not holding my breath, and neither should you. 

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