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Shufflrr cloud-based asset management reins in PowerPoint sprawl

Businesses can have hundreds of presentations -- old and new -- floating around with no way to impose control and compliance on their use. Shufflrr sees that as a SaaS opportunity.

Creating PowerPoint presentations is easy. And that's a problem. It's routine for large enterprises to have dozens or hundreds of nearly identical official and unsanctioned guerilla presentations floating around with no way to keep them in sync and no assurance that the numbers being shown on-screen are even up to date, a problem that could have serious consequences.

Enter cloud-based asset management, yet another flavor of subscription-based software as a service. According to James Ontra, CEO of Shufflrr, the cloud, combined with machine learning, is already helping dozens of Fortune 1000 enterprises bring order to content management, an area where order is difficult to impose. He recently spoke with SearchCloudApplications.

Presentations are just files. Can't they be shared over email or through apps such as DropBox or is there something special about cloud-based asset management?

James Ontra: We consider presentations a communications discipline. They're inefficient from creation, dissemination, reuse, sharing, updating and tracking. Presentation management treats presentations as valuable communications; you need to, for example, manage presentations on a global level so that sales teams presenting to potential customers are communicating the same message. 

Typically, presentations are shared via email or from a SharePoint repository. What is the shortcoming with that approach?

James Ontra, CEO, ShufflrrJames Ontra

Ontra: You need to manage presentation assets -- slides and videos -- on a global basis so that users can drag-and-drop to create new slideshows and always be compliant with corporate branding standards, messaging and numbers. The basic premise is that we are a content-management software-as-a-service site where all files are pre-formatted to present. Everything is searchable and you can see each slide or video before you pull it into your cart for building your own presentation.

Does the shopping cart aspect of cloud-based asset management provide tracking on how slides are used?

Ontra: If a company's salesforce is using content from one central library, you can track who is using what slides and in what order. You also know when and how many times a slide is shared, and [because content is viewed online] how much time viewers spend looking at each slide or video. Visualizing content means you can search for it. And because it's possible to find content easier and faster -- and rediscover valuable content that workers have forgotten about -- we've become valuable to some very large global corporations.

Like so much we see today, you've crossed the line into cloud-based analytics.

Ontra: That's exactly right. We see lifecycle management when an ad agency produces a broadcast-quality video, but there has never been business analytics or lifecycle management for slide presentations to measure their value or contribution to revenue generation. That's why we treat presentations as a communications discipline.

Every feature, function and use is transmitted through APIs, which gives us the ability to grow our platform.
James OntraCEO, Shufflrr

How does Shufflrr differ from other sharing services, perhaps typified by SlideShare?

Ontra: SlideShare is a front-end sales-enablement tool that is a form of screen sharing. We manage content so that content can be pulled into a new slide show. We are a cloud-based asset management library to drag-and-drop and recreate slides. Some of these are essentially a YouTube for PowerPoint; you upload and then it's easy to show, but presentations are business intelligence and you want to control who watches at a particular time and place.

How big is Shufflrr?

Ontra: We have six full-time employees and another 15 who are not staff but make their living from it.

Given that cloud-based asset management is a specialized area, what is under the hood to make this all work?

Ontra: We are hosted on Amazon Web Services. On the front end we are built with Twitter Bootstrap so it's all responsive and works on all devices and formats properly. We are a Microsoft stack on .NET using SQL. The entire site is run by APIs. Every feature, function and use is transmitted through APIs, which gives us the ability to grow our platform. [Editor's note: Twitter Bootstrap is an open-source front-end framework based on HTML and CSS design templates for designing web-based and mobile applications.]

Why is .NET still relevant for you?

Ontra: For Shufflrr, while PowerPoint isn't 100% of presentations, it is the vast majority. Playing nice with the Microsoft platform allowed us to be a bit smoother and get some of the features and functions more quickly to the front end. We looked at Ruby on Rails, but had to create some middle to Microsoft and Office components in the background. It allowed us to build a strong, responsive, fast site.

Joel Shore is news writer for TechTarget's Business Applications and Architecture Media Group. Write to him at [email protected] or follow @JshoreTT on Twitter.

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