North Plains acquires VYRE: what it means for customers

North Plains, one of the few goliaths of the DAM space, announced this week an acqusition of VYRE, a onetime web content management vendor that in the last few years shifted its focus to brand and marketing resource management.   

We've written before about North Plains' big moves over the past year. Subscribers to our Brand & Digital Asset Management research know that a couple of years ago, VYRE created a flavor of their WCM product Unify, dubbing it On Brand, using Unify as a platform to create a more out-of-the-box product for brand production management. 

We see the acquisition as another North Plains move towards realizing their ambitions of supplying more technology to fulfill the end-to-end brand management ecosystem, from creation and production all the way through deployment. VYRE has a few strengths that North Plains historically has lacked:

1) Services team members on the eastern side of the Atlantic. North Plains is a Canadian company that scarely had any staff in Europe. VYRE, on the other hand, is a company that has an equal split in revenues between services and software licenses, with a several-dozen strong services team that customers have historically been positive about. VYRE's London offices give North Plains team members a place to hang their hats (and raincoats).

2) Workflow capabilities and system functionality for marketing resource management (MRM) and works-in-progress. VYRE's focus on supporting brand development and resources supports earlier parts of the brand ecosystem than North Plains' Telescope. In addition to Xinet, a company North Plains acquired earlier in 2012, VYRE gives North Plains a better story to tell around pre-press collaboration, production workflow, and branded web-based collaboration. 

There is, of course, a flip side to the sunny side of the story.

1) Though North Plains now has a services team in London, they are not yet trained on North Plains Telescope. There is compatibility in that North Plains is also a platform-oriented, Java-based system, but the two companies' goals of keeping the products "independent yet interoperable" means that the services people on both sides of the Atlantic have a lot to get up to speed on.

2) There is more functional overlap in On Brand and Telescope than both vendors would outwardly admit. That's not to say they can't continue functioning as separate products, just as Xinet's WebNative and North Plains' Telescope have, but there are more similarities in On Brand and Telescope, particularly in the functionality required to manage, render, search for, and distribute completed assets later in the brand ecosystem. 

3) Both vendors have similarly built out support for short-form video review and approval in the last two years - another overlap in these products. 

Unlike many acquisition stories, though, we don't fear for VYRE customers that their product will quickly become sunsetted or unsupported. VYRE has been a dominant player in the UK market for a decade, and the Unify / On Brand technology is different enough from Telescope that it warrants a continued presence in the portfolio. On Brand is a better, more cost-effective fit for many basic brand management scenarios where Telescope is too heavy and pricey. 

The future development of these products may continue independently, but over time, buyers and existing customer may find that the focus of video support, for example, may continue in Telescope, whereas support for workflow and MRM may stay on the VYRE side of the portfolio. Buying both products would be a million-dollar-plus proposition that wouldn't make sense for most companies.

We'll be checking in with customers to see how this continues to shake out, and sharing what we find with our DAM subscribers.  

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