George Baier IV is Media Industry Principal at Dropbox, responsible for communicating the company’s unique perspective on how Dropbox can transform work and IT infrastructure for customers in the media vertical. George works closely with customers to deliver product features and solutions that meet specific media customer needs.
Westchester: George, Westchester is excited about our partnership with Dropbox which has resulted in several positive developments including upgrades to our internal technology, and further enhancements on our Client Portal. Can you share with readers a little about your background in publishing, and how that led to your current role with Dropbox?
George: I’ve worked in the publishing and media industry for over a decade, across different leadership roles involving technology, content, and design. Prior to Dropbox, I served as a VP in IT at Macmillan, where I helped deploy tools that the organization’s teams and employees still use today. One of those tools was Dropbox, which consolidated the applications people organically brought to work, and gave teams the freedom to collaborate under a common platform. Seeing employees get excited about technology like Dropbox ultimately led me to the role I currently hold — Media Industry Principal — in which I help even more media customers deploy tools to help them do their best work.
Westchester: What makes you so passionate about publishing in particular, and how does that inform the work Dropbox is doing with companies in the media sector?
George: Trade publishing continues to evolve but its business model still operates on the creation of content, and the consumption of that content by readers that are willing to pay for it. Unlike other forms of media, the straightforwardness of the relationship between publishers and audiences is something I’ve always found appealing. In this spirit, Dropbox helps creators move their process forward, and is designed for any author to use as a means to enable creativity at scale. It’s also part of the reason we continue integrating with tools that are industry-standard within publishing while seeing increased adoption overall.
Westchester: What is the potential Dropbox sees in the media space – specifically in publishing, during the next couple of years?
George: Teams and users in the publishing, media, and entertainment space created and saved more than a billion files in Dropbox last year. Every day those teams — especially in publishing — are under pressure to create more content in less time. As a result, there’s a growing need to manage complex projects at scale, as content often becomes trapped in silos and spread across teams, tools, and devices. We see an opportunity for Dropbox to continue serving as a home for content and the collaboration around it.
In parallel, we see an opportunity to support authors through a platform that unifies documents, rich media, and the exchange of ideas. Those with talent and creativity should be enabled to tell stories with less friction, wherever and whenever inspiration may strike. I observed firsthand at Macmillan how unique tools like Dropbox can be additive to an author’s creative toolkit, which ultimately led me to Dropbox itself — I wanted closer involvement in helping other organizations benefit from our platform.
Westchester: We came to Dropbox with several situations we needed to resolve – including upgrading our own internal infrastructure, working with our operations teams around the globe, version control, handling large files, and the development of our Client Portal. Walk us through the approach Dropbox took to evaluate our requirements and propose specific solutions.
George: We worked closely with several stakeholders at Westchester to offer guidance on a Team Folder system that met their needs and matched their investment in our product’s deployment, while ensuring no data loss occurred throughout the migration and deployment process. In general, our approach was to make a transition to Dropbox as seamless as possible, helping them maximize the full benefit of our platform to support large volumes of content and launch their Client Portal. This also involved listening to input from production, editorial staff, and ensuring we could follow through on the capabilities promised as part of our deployment. Interestingly, as we continued working together, we uncovered even more ways that Dropbox could support Westchester, whether it be handling large files, version control capabilities, or expanded Dropbox previews of file types like ePub.
Westchester: Are the challenges that we brought to Dropbox consistent with what you see from other media firms? What other types of issues do you and your team help resolve for companies in the media industry?
George: Westchester is a great example of organizational vision and execution facilitating the full promise of Dropbox, from start to finish across migration and deployment phases — adoption, integration, workflow enablement and, ultimately, transformation. We weren’t surprised how quickly Westchester did it, given the strong leadership and cross-functional partnership, but it became clear that Dropbox was additive to Westchester’s holistic philosophy to technology, content management, and infrastructure migration. Our goal is help replicate the success of Westchester’s IT maturity model for other customers that want to mature their business through the capabilities of our collaboration platform.
Westchester: Many publishers have their own in-house architecture or use other file transfer and archival systems. How does Dropbox differ in its ability to support the ways publishers handle projects with multiple stakeholders, versions, and large files?
George: Over the past few years, we’ve evolved from a place to store your files to a place where collaboration gets easier. We’ve released several new products and features like Paper, Smart Sync, Showcase, and Team Folders that have made it incredibly easy for publishers to adopt our platform, specific to projects involving multiple stakeholders, versions, and large files. These build upon our core product capabilities including best-in-class file sync/share, previews, and unlimited file size uploads.
More specific to file transfer and archival systems, we see patterns of work that still rely on inefficient methods of content transfer — FTP, email, file attachments — across businesses today. The products and features I’ve mentioned, especially Showcase, can help modernize those legacy tools, the use of which can result in lost time and focus away from the content itself. In addition, Dropbox also integrates natively in digital asset management (DAM) tools like Widen, nicely complementing archival systems of record that store IP. This integration facilitates our larger platform strategy, in which Dropbox can work with tools and systems customers have already purchased, as opposed to creating another ‘walled garden’.
Westchester: We’re excited about the new release of our Client Portal, because it uses the Dropbox API integrated with the DBX platform to provide clients with a secure, cloud-based file management, and communications hub for their projects (see video). How do you see our ability to extend the use of the Dropbox platform to clients as a change in the way publishers of all sizes are able to interact with their vendors?
George: The Client Portal is an impressive example of leveraging the power of DBX Platform to customize specific publishing workflows for both internal and external audiences. As more and more content is produced, it often goes through key stages of creation, feedback, and distribution — which can, unfortunately, lead to lost time searching for the latest versions, or “work about work” if not properly managed. Ultimately, we think our APIs can serve as the connective tissue for collaborative work among Dropbox, publishers, and vendors, facilitating a unified home for work across the entire content lifecycle.
Westchester: Tell us more about the new features that Dropbox has rolled out recently that would be of interest to our clients and publishing partners. Are there additional developments on the horizon that you’re able to share with us?
George: Recently, Dropbox announced expanded partnerships with Canva, Final Draft, Frame.io, Getty Images, Shift.io, Marvel, and Widen to bridge content silos, in support of teams that continue creating content at an exponential rate. These integrations complement core Dropbox product capabilities like best-in-class file sync/share, no-download shared links to protect IP, expanded preview capabilities like EPUB, ZIP, RAR, and enhanced previews of PPT and PDF. Especially as rich media and visual assets become ingrained in traditional and digital publishing, we’re focused on giving authors and teams more flexibility to bring Dropbox closer to the tools they already use. In the future, we’ll be looking for more ways to expand our relationship with those seven partners, and other publishing-optimized tools like Scrivener, that integrate with our collaboration platform meaningfully.
Westchester: For publishers interested in exploring the solutions Dropbox can offer for their own particular challenges, what’s the best way to reach you?
George: You can always connect with me on LinkedIn (George Baier IV), or check out our Flow Together eBook if you’d like to learn more as well.
Westchester: George, thank you for taking the time to share your insights about publishing and technology. For clients and prospective partners interested in learning more about our Client Portal, and our editorial and production services, please Contact Us.