Sebastian Picklum is the new product vision owner at Canto and is in charge of developing Cumulus. He spoke with us in an interview about his new role and the current digital asset management trends.
Please start off by telling us what your duties as the product vision owner at Canto are.
First off, I do everything that a project manager does. That means I look at customer requirements and market trends and use them in conjunction with the project management team to forge a road map for developing Cumulus. To achieve that – as the product vision owner – I also work at the intersection between the various people and departments dealing with Cumulus here at the company and ‘tap’ their knowledge. The point here is to pool together very diverse ideas to get a clear view of the direction the development of Cumulus should take.
With which departments do you work?
On the one hand, of course, I need to exchange ideas with the experts in development, quality assurance and support since they know precisely where things currently stand with the product. It’s crucial to know where we can improve technical issues and where there are problems to be solved.
Then, of course, I need to exchange ideas with sales, our professional services team and the marketing department since they can provide the impetus for continued development of our software. For example, this could be when they find an innovative technology at a trade show that could be interesting for us. My colleagues are close to the market and our customers, which helps me to get an idea of what is critical for making Cumulus a success.
So, you work right at the intersection between current and future development of Cumulus?
Yes, you could say that. My task is to put a frame around our product development and communicate it to the outside world – what Cumulus can do, what it stands for, how our customers use it. Likewise, this clarity also has an impact on the team here. Transparency means that every employee knows exactly what he or she is doing, what benefits his or her work will bring and where this journey takes us. That’s no easy task, especially with software as rich and complex as Cumulus.
What do you find exciting about your role?
The complexity. On one hand, Cumulus is sophisticated and has a whole host of features. On the other hand, we also need to continuously modernize our system. We’re at a phase now in which more and more applications are being shifted to the cloud. Cumulus is no longer a purely on-premise solution, it’s already performing many functions via the cloud. With the hybrid cloud approach, we can offer the best of both worlds – a sophisticated, tried-and-true on-premise software program with the advantages of a cloud solution.
What’s challenging about your work?
Well, Cumulus isn’t your run-of-the-mill parking app nor is Canto a start-up. At first glance, it’s really appealing to write a completely new software program from the ground up and design the whole thing yourself. I also find it really exciting with Cumulus to be working on a complex, established enterprise system, which of course offers a lot more application scenarios than with a parking app. Naturally, more features and more complexity means my work gets more demanding at each iteration. But yes, it’s precisely this challenge that excites me. And it’s a load of fun. Thanks to the direct, up close and personal contact with customers and users, whom we personally know for the most part, my work is really satisfying. I know how our software is used day in, day out and ultimately how my work helps many people accomplish their tasks.
So which product features and DAM trends are we talking about here?
At Cumulus, we support a wide range of future-oriented technologies. We’ve got the cloud connection. We’ve got AI (Artificial Intelligence) features like automatic image indexing. We can assume that cloud technologies and AI will become even bigger. And in the future, image processing will automatically be performed in the system when, for instance, a graphic artist post-processes a photo in certain a style and then just says: “Make the other photos look just like that.” The graphic artist provides the master image and artificial intelligence does the rest. It’s really thrilling to be a part of that.
The cloud isn’t a totally new trend in the enterprise field. Where is the development heading?
Cloud applications have major benefits for companies; e.g. enormous cost-cutting, increased uptime and solving scaling problems. Thanks to the cloud, a company can focus on its core business, which is usually not operating servers and maintaining software. Notwithstanding that, Cumulus On-Premise is still important since many companies don’t want or are unable to rely on cloud systems – or it’s simply not worthwhile for them. Many of our customers have dedicated computing centers they maintain anyway. Others work in security-vital areas where they cannot or are not allowed to give up control of their data. We’re going to support our customers with on-premise systems for a long time to come – making us a dependable partner despite all the latest trends.
You come from a strong background in enterprise software. Why does a company like Canto appeal to you?
Right, I’ve been working in the field for nearly ten years and have also been familiar with Canto and Cumulus for quite some time now – for me, it’s simply an incredibly exciting product. Likewise, I’ve also acquired experience in product marketing and know full well what our customers’ workflows look like and how assets are processed – from shooting outside to the finished product. In my opinion, that’s exactly what qualifies me for this job – I understand both the technical side (thanks to my IT specialization) and the user side and bring them both together.
What’s fascinating is the experience and know-how here at Canto. A lot of developers have been working on Cumulus since its infancy or have been there right from the start. They are developing a product they fully understand and it’s this experience that characterizes Cumulus as a robust, dependable business tool that’s nonetheless flexible to use.