Southpaw Technology Inc.: The Next-Gen Digital Assembly Lines

David Lowe, CEO, Remko Noteboom, CTO Popularly celebrated as the father of ‘mass production’, Henry Ford and his assembly line model find a special mention in the research papers of Remko Noteboom, CTO of Southpaw Technology. Fascinated by Henry Ford’s model where each worker focused on contributing to one simple operation of the workflow while the assembly line took care of moving the components down the line, Noteboom pens a brilliant analogy between Henry Ford’s model and the modern-day digital project management. According to Noteboom, today, digital assets have taken the place of moving components, and ideally should engage an interactive workflow engine moving things along much like a modern day assembly line. Accentuating this viewpoint of digital asset management with respect to the workflow, Noteboom paints a picture of today’s era where valued digital assets are assembled by workers in a non-linear manner and who do not work under the same ‘factory’ roof but rather in many locations. Southpaw’s solutions allow for modern day orchestration of these digital assets.

Having worked extensively in the computer graphics animated film arena, the founders of Southpaw—Gary Mundell and Noteboom—designed TACTIC, a proprietary technology that optimizes these busy production environments with high traffic volumes of digital content. The enterprise use case of TACTIC came later on when the creators realized the inefficient digital asset management models used within enterprises. Historically, enterprises predominantly utilized shared folders, spreadsheets, and emails as alternatives. It turned out that these organizational structures with complex interdependencies and collaborative functionalities across departments needed well-tailored workflows as well. The result was—TACTIC.

"The workflow engine is a digital assembly line that pushes any type of job forward and TACTIC brings all-new linearity and simplicity to this workflow model"

The TACTIC framework is a web-based, open source, smart process application that can track the creation and development of digital assets and data through a defined workflow using the elements of DAM (digital asset management) and job/project management. David Lowe, CEO at Southpaw Technology states, “Southpaw’s proprietary products are all built on TACTIC and make use of DAM as a necessary component to make the workflow perform better with a sharp focus on how it is interacting with the humans.” Apart from possessing a unique workflow engine and utilizing a digital asset management component, Southpaw products provide enhanced project management capabilities, automation and intelligence opportunities, ease of deployment and human interaction.

Among other things, a workflow engine requires elements of project management in addition to aspects of digital asset management. In such case, the TACTIC framework is a proficient platform for a business or project manager who has to lay out an elaborate flow chart to view the series of processes where each step is a task assigned to an individual or a department within a project. Lowe adds, “The workflow engine is a digital assembly line that pushes these steps forward, and allows managers to assign, automate and track work in their business units.

Today, the digital assets have taken the place of moving components, and the interactive workflow engine engaging with these digital assets is practically the modern day assembly line

With upper management, it offers visibility and accountability across multiple business units contributing to a smoother overall operation.” TACTIC orchestrates via a workflow engine that traverses and interacts through the system processes and allows a project manager to enlist workers, services and assets within the organizations to go through all the steps of assigned tasks and produce the end-result. TACTIC workflows consist of process nodes that resemble a familiar workflow diagram but can connect people to various manual tasks and integrating automated processes within the workflow. After the completion of each task, the job delivers a package of data, documents or assets to the next individual or a departmental segment in the workflow. TACTIC’s workflow process nodes are equipped with logic and decision-making capabilities, enabling them to interact and connect to external services. “Our prebuilt process nodes within our Southpaw products enable our customers to connect and integrate with external services, for example, Salesforce for their sales operations, Adobe for asset creation or Facebook or Twitter for advertising and marketing,” adds Noteboom.

The Open Source Edge

The upfront costs of adopting a comprehensive workflow solution that incorporates numerous internal and external workflows can be significant, making it difficult for organizations to afford implementing workflow software. The TACTIC framework offers developers an open-source platform to build their own workflow and digital asset management solutions and provides them with a user interface engine that allows them to create widgets and brand-centric interfaces. TACTIC enables organizations to design a system that works on their terms and utilizes their legacy investments, all at a pace that is suitable for them. David explains, “The TACTIC, open source platform, is a comforting thing for many CIOs. In addition to a framework to build a customized workflow, Southpaw also offers flexibility with proprietary TACTIC products and a commercialized license all to greatly accelerate deployment timelines and save costs.”

Southpaw builds these commercial products on top of the TACTIC framework. “Southpaw competes with its own open-source platform. Although, we do enjoy this competition,” he quips. When organizations utilize the TACTIC open source platform for a specific business unit or solution, down the road they may want to expand to an enterprise-grade solution. That’s when they turn toward Southpaw to further enable their organizations with a multi-business unit solution that is more robust, user-friendly, extensible, and one that fits the need of their entire organization.

The Customer Interaction

The TACTIC platform has the capability of incorporating and complying with specific and highly complex workflow requirements of any enterprise operation. Southpaw starts by configuring TACTIC to match the client’s workflow. There are a lot of moving parts within TACTIC, so Southpaw helps customers efficiently interact and adapt TACTIC based solutions.
Mark Schultz, CFO
To do this they leverage TACTIC’s unique aspect of communicating equally and efficiently with every segment of the workflow. Noteboom cites an example where the legal department within an organization is sent an email requesting specific legal documents. The department responds back with attached documents. Consequently, with these emails going back and forth, the safety, integrity and accessibility of the attached documents are at considerable risk and outside of the department’s DAM. The TACTIC software mitigates this risk, by redirecting the legal department to a pre-logged in interface where they get access to all their required files, which instead of attachments are now a part of the secured workflow. TACTIC accurately understands which part of the process the file was specifically required for. Instead of getting intertwined in a vast trail of email attachments, TACTIC provides an organized and centralized file system for storing every file within its respective folder. The TACTIC software exclusively allows authorized access to the files where only the person assigned with specific tasks can view and interact with the file.

The TACTIC platform has been gaining tremendous traction among diverse industry verticals such as defense, financial services, packaged goods, retail, and sporting apparel with renowned names like Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, Adidas, and P&G among its esteemed clientele. In the words of Chris Rodriguez, Media Products, Animation Lead, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, “TACTIC is what finally brought our workflow out of the dark ages. Working with Southpaw made us realize that their product was born out of real world needs identified by industry veterans and was created to be flexible and adaptive enough to scale to any production. Over the years, we have come to appreciate how extremely agile and responsive Southpaw has been to our needs - as well as how frequently they implement product enhancements.”

Southpaw is currently executing its expansion plan with an upcoming global partnership venture with a consulting group in Europe. With corporate headquarters situated in Canada, today, the company serves its core customer base in the U.S., complemented by a presence in Los Angeles. “In the coming 12-18 month window, we are planning to double or possibly triple the size of our organization to capitalize on our incredible growth trajectory,” exclaims David.

With an exciting roadmap to embark on, Noteboom expresses his excitement on the changing perception of the market regarding workflow. Previously customers used to approach Southpaw with inquires of digital asset management systems but today are productively engaging in conversations that revolve around workflows. CIOs and BPM industry leaders appear to be more aware than ever of this need. “While most C-suite business leaders today can intellectually perceive the true potential of workflow, a significant part of the business community is yet to get entirely acquainted with the workflow’s enchantment in action. Southpaw is just perfectly positioned to bring forth that potential to businesses across the globe,” concludes David.

Southpaw Technology Inc

Ontario, CA

David Lowe, CEO, Remko Noteboom, CTO and Mark Schultz, CFO

Southpaw makes software that integrates workflow solutions across disparate systems and business units to help businesses run smoother and counts Adidas, Lockheed Martin, P&G among its customers

Southpaw Technology Inc