What’s Ahead For DAM? A Look To The Road Ahead

This past year was an exciting one for digital asset management (DAM). In 2012, DAM became an important part of the customer experience management (CXM) ecosystem, especially in providing content and data services and acting as a repository for rich media content. In other words, DAM helps enable marketers and information workers to create and manage digital experiences and they’re associated content. Although many vendors I speak with have trouble articulating this vision to customers — many still think of DAM in terms of its traditional roots with creative professionals and niche verticals like publishing and media and entertainment — I’ve also seen a shift in other vendors to embrace this trend. This is smart, as based on the client questions I get, CXM is where DAM will find the most traction.

But as we’re now officially one month into 2013, I’ve started to ask myself what’s ahead for DAM this year and beyond:

  • Is 2013 the year of vendor consolidation? Probably not, at least for the major players. The market continues to be fragmented, with independent players and only a few larger CXM vendors. Independent DAM vendor North Plains — backed by venture capital funds — has made moves to consolidate the market by acquiring Xinet and Vyre. I expect them to continue to make moves to expand their global and CXM footprint. Many large CXM vendors like IBM or Oracle don’t yet have best-of-breed DAM solutions and have remained quiet on the DAM front. I expect them to remain preoccupied with bigger priorities like cross-channel analytics and experience delivery.
  • What should vendors focus on? Vendors need to continue to refine their CXM messaging and functionality — but integration will continue to be a top concern. This isn’t new for 2013, but it will continue gain importance. Our clients continue to ask about integrating DAM, yet few vendors have a defined strategy for supporting integration. Just in the past two weeks alone, I’ve had three clients tell me that they’re not considering a DAM solution because it doesn’t have proven integration with their existing WCM systems. As DAM is gaining traction as a “single source of truth” repository to manage customer-facing collateral, this will make integration with delivery solutions like WCM, eCommerce platforms, video platforms, campaign management vital.
  • What DAM functionality should you keep an eye out for? There are still some DAM vendors out there who market themselves as an image library, with little functionality outside of metadata and taxonomy management. Why use that when you probably have something like SharePoint or even fileshares already in place? Most organizations we talk to need DAM to function as more than a glorified fileshare. The functionality we recommend that they look at more closely when evaluating vendors includes: search, workflow (more than just basic approvals), rendition management (particularly for global and local renditions of assets), and video support. Many vendors are lacking in these areas, so they too will need to tighten their strategic road map.  
  • Is this going to be the year for cloud and open source solutions? Probably not. There simply aren’t many players out there with a proven track record. Some DAM vendors like OpenText have hosted options. But in terms of pure SaaS players like Widen or WebDAM, there remain few who’ve had enterprise success. Widen has had success with enterprises, but even it has begun to also target SMB deployments. Open source is an even more unproven market. Unlike the success we’ve seen with Drupal and Lucene for WCM and search, respectively, I haven’t seen any open source DAM vendors (e.g. Razuna, Nuxeo, ResourceSpace, or Tactic) take hold of the enterprise market yet.

Comments

One reason for lack of vendor

One reason for lack of vendor consolidation (which in my opinion is a good thing) is that there are now a lot of smaller companies challenging the so-called "major players".
An increasing number of the DAM applications priced at the lower end (e.g. less than $20,000 for a server-licence) are as fully-featured and 'enterprise scale' as those from the major players, and they are often more flexible (as a smaller company can usually be more reactive).
There is often no good reason for spending a small fortune on a DAM system, unless you embrace the "no one ever got fired for buying IBM" philosophy.

What level of DAM - CXM/WCM integration is needed?

In a former life, I facilitated the acquisition of a DAM vendor by a WCM vendor looking to become an ECM vendor :-). I had visions of really cool integrated functionality aimed at ensuring image renditions on www sites were dynamically-scaled according to page layouts, automatically kept up-to-date relative source images maintained within the DAM, etc... But such integrated capabilities were often deferred in preference to unilateral product requirements on the WCM or DAM side.

Customers rarely ask for features they need to dream up, what are they asking for (or expecting) these days?