BORN Group, London


BORN Group, London

DIALOGUE Engine brings new life to approvals

A long-standing agency user of DALIM SOFTWARE is building the remote proofing, workflow and approval capabilities of DIALOGUE Engine and ES into its latest generation systems for seamless interfacing with its clients.

Born’ out of the 2014 amalgamation of 1980s repro house Colour Systems-cum-1990s media production company FMG and Pod One, a New York-based e-commerce agency, BORN Group is a worldwide digital agency with offices in London, North America and Asia.

BORN uses its own in-house developed flatplan management software, called VIP, to handle client approval of the pages it creates. The VIP system is used with BORN Group’s book and magazine publishing clients which include Harper Collins, Random House, Reader’s Digest, the Telegraph Group, The Big Issue and Crash Test Media, publishers of London Underground free magazines such as The Stylist. It’s also used with the group’s biggest client, Sotheby’s, to produce their catalogues. In total the company has handled five million pages through the VIP system in the last four years.

The group’s existing remote approval solution, which was based around the previous stand-alone version of DIALOGUE, was Java-based. This was leading to support problems with clients in areas such as colour- critical approvals for book publishing clients. “Apple’s support for Java had been decreasing over the previous couple of years,” recalls technical director Bill Tickle, “so we worked with LGS to migrate to DIALOGUE Engine.”

Fast track development

born_1Tickle reports that working with the API for DIALOGUE Engine, with training and knowledge sharing from integrator LGS, was easy: “The actual development was extremely pain-free, we had very little problem at all integrating with our existing systems, so within days we had a working test version up and running and we implemented it live in a matter of weeks.

“It’s now very nice. There’s a slick, quick interface and it’s super- fast,” says Tickle. “The DIALOGUE Engine is more of a programmer’s tool. It only took about a week to write the interfaces for the new version,” he adds.

The move is part of a broader IT strategy to combine all BORN Group’s client-facing tools into one seamlessly integrated HTML5-based system. Called Cito (the Latin for ‘quickly’), this is part of a longer-term development project that BORN is working on with LGS and which is scheduled to conclude in 2017, though the initial stages are expected to be live by the end of 2016.

“Our contracts are getting shorter but bigger, so the client has to have exactly what they want; if they have specific requirements we can’t offer a standard solution that does only 90 per cent of that,” explains Tickle. “We have got the platform right, then it becomes like a set of Lego blocks that we can use in different ways.”

“The old version of DIALOGUE produced email notifications which arrived separately from VIP. Now they come via VIP so it’s more like dealing with a single application for clients, and this is the way we’re going with Cito.”

“DIALOGUE Engine also adds things we could never do before. We’ve added a ‘decline’ button to the approval screen, which passes the notification to VIP; previously the page would have to be rejected manually in both DIALOGUE and in VIP to update the status fully.”

New business

A new area of focus for the business is in providing amalgamated creative and production services to retail businesses. “Clients in retail don’t want to have to switch from one tool to look at flyers to another to approve a brochure,” explains Tickle.

The company also has ES, which it uses for image selection, retouching and approval for other clients. Bill Tickle confirms that although relatively new to the group, ES is “rapidly becoming very important and we will embed it into Cito, where it will form the backbone for work that doesn’t go through our own flatplanning system, such as 4- or 8-page advertising supplements, for example.”

BORN will be integrating ES with its bespoke job management system. This is based on the commercially available Axiom solution, though the group is largely customising this to meet their own needs.

Tickle says the projects around DIALOGUE Engine and ES have ‘rejuvenated’ the company’s partnership with DALIM SOFTWARE. “We’ve been a DALIM customer since the 1990s, we were early investors in TWIST and DIALOGUE. They brought out DIALOGUE Engine and ES just as we were starting to look around. These are super-reliable products that do what they’re supposed to. They were lacking good APIs but now they tick the final box.

“We’re extremely happy with the solution and we look forward to working with DALIM SOFTWARE in the future.”