It’s that time of year when we look back at the accomplishments of the past year and look forward to the possibilities the future holds. This post started with a simple question asked of more than a dozen vendors: What innovative new features and technologies will you offer in 2015? The response was overwhelming. Vendors walked me through their 2015 technology roadmaps and shared their visions of where the digital asset management (DAM) and Media Asset Management (MAM) industry is heading beyond 2015.

Before we go further, I want to point out that there are hundreds of DAM / MAM vendors on the market, and I was only able to speak with a small percentage of the industry. The vendors that I did speak with provided me with much more information than I will be able to cover in this article.

Following are some of the highlights from my discussions:

Overarching Trends for 2015

During my interviews, I was able to identify several trends that indicate a positive shift in the industry. There were four trends that almost every vendor mentioned in one fashion or another:

  • Reimagining user interface (UI)
  • Consumer video for web and social channels
  • Interoperability between systems
  • Business intelligence and analytics

We'll tackle the first two of these trends today and look at the final two tomorrow.

Reimagined User Interface (UI)

Vendors are working hard to improve the usability of their DAM systems by reimagining the User Interface (UI). This will make it quicker and easier for users to find and repurpose assets. They are looking for innovative ways to provide easier access to assets with better control and tracking. Both these concepts are intended to help their client improve the user experience and provide a higher return on investment (ROI).

Mimi Thigpen, CEO, North Plains Systems said,

We are seeing some key shifts in the market around leveraging content. We are innovating to help our customers receive maximum leverage from their systems and drive revenue for their organizations.”

Mohan Taylor, Chief Product Officer, North Plains Systems explained that new users are moving from those who like and need to see the complete metadata model to users who want to navigate using a Google like search. There is a need to support both these types of users.

There is also a need to make it easy for the mobile user who may use mobile devices as the primary interface for using the DAM.

John Price, product marketing manager of OpenText DAM, said,

We took a step back and designed a simple UI that provides the functionality that the user needs. Early next year we will also be releasing a widget driven dashboard that allow users to add on the tools they need to perform their daily tasks."


OpenText Widget Dashboard

OpenText is also developing a new HTML 5 responsive designed mobile interface which includes a touch enabled UI that will adjust automatically from landscape or portrait.


OpenText Widget Mobile UI

Widen Media Collective version 8.0, released in December 2014, offers a reimagined user interface dashboard that promises to help users quickly and easily find assets. The new UI boasts visual search methods that are intuitive and familiar, similar to shopping sites like Amazon.com.

Widen Media’s dashboard has many new features to promote brand and highlight assets such as:

  • System messages
  • Spotlight searches
  • Spotlight collections
  • Upload drop sections
  • Activity feeds


Widen Media Collective version 8.0’s new dashboard UI

Razuna is also developing a responsive UI. Jens Strandbygaard, CEO, said they are developing a completely refactored responsive UI built on HTML 5 that leverages bootstrap, MongoDB and jQuery technologies. The UI will provide basic features that allow users to ingest, transform, search and repurpose assets while providing better performance. The company will also be changing its search engine to Elasticsearch in the coming year.

WAVE Corporation’s MediaBank Gold is developing really interesting UI features including a Digital Whiteboard tool that allows customers to quickly develop visual concepts (mocks) using assets inside of MediaBank DAM. The customers are able to communicate size and layout which automatically convert into InDesign files then ingested into MediaBank.


MediaBank Digital Whiteboard


MediaBank Digital InDesign Panel

Charlie Ward Wright IV, business development engineer at WAVE Corporation spoke of another feature, Snippets and Snippet Templates. Being developed for the first quarter of 2015, WAVE promises to allow users to quickly create new marketing material or advertisements based on a standard template.

Bynder takes an innovative approach to DAM development. Chris Hall, founder and CEO of Bynder, explained how they take a continuous development approach releasing update to their DAM on a daily basis. “Development is extremely rapid. Much quicker time-to-market with automated testing.” Clients have the option to phase the releases. Or they can choose to stay on their current release versions.

Hall told me large social organizations, such as Facebook, release new features on an hourly basis. He said Bynder is working hard to increase the speed of releases. He also made a good argument for the continuous development approach stating that by releasing small incremental improvements you reduce the risk of larger patches that can have wider impacts to well established systems.

Bynder is adding a new Brand Store Module that streamlines the process of distributing assets around the world in different languages by automatically translating captions. Users will be able to order posters, banners across the world search in their native language -- it’s all automated.


Brand Store Module

Also in the works for Bynder is fingerprinting of all assets with the ability to search by color palette, find similar and find duplicates. A new version of Fuse, a Dropbox like feature which allows users to mount folders to access the application through any desktop will also be released in 2015.


Bynder Asset Bank

ResourceSpace has plans to release a much more polished updated user interface, in line with current design trends, said Dan Huby, managing director of Montala Limited (ResourceSpace).

Leslie Weller, director of marketing for Canto, said, “By late summer 2015, Canto will be releasing all new Cumulus Portals, new Cumulus Mobile app and will be deepening third party integrations."


Cumulus Mobile App

Picturepark introduced Adaptive Metadata to enable users to design custom metadata schemas that reflect the specific needs of your organization. David Diamond, Director of Global Marketing, Picturepark, said,

When we introduced Adaptive Metadata, we honestly had no idea how valuable it would be to our customers. We not only can't imagine DAM without it, we hate that other systems such as customer relationship management (CRM) systems and product information manager (PIM) systems don't have it. Users don't think in terms of metadata standards; they think in terms of what makes sense. This is why a single metadata schema across an entire system doesn't make sense. Further, that schema needs to change as the asset evolves. This is what Adaptive Metadata makes possible. And while this seems on the surface to be an added layer of complexity, it actually makes things easier for users because what they see is less about the DAM configuration and more about the history of the specific content."

Diamond explained that, “Adaptive Metadata updates the asset’s metadata schema based on classes that have been assigned to the asset. In these examples, the Bertelsmann Case Study class has been added. It includes default values that apply equally to all assets assigned to that class. (Example: The PDF, the Word master, the contract, etc.) In addition, there are two 'Lifecycle' classes: Available and Update Request. The Available class means the asset is available for use. The Update Request class has been added because missing metadata was discovered. Though this doesn’t affect the asset’s availability, it’s a flag that attention is needed. If the update needed was so bad that the asset should have been taken out of circulation, the Available class could have been temporarily removed.”


Picturepark’s Adaptive Metadata Panel: Though available for use, this asset has also been flagged for a metadata update. Lifecycle fields appear that are relevant for each stage.


Picturepark’s Adaptive Lifecycle Case Study: A Case Study class has been assigned to this asset that provides default values for the study. These values may be accepted as is or edited.

Diamond said users want systems that are function-focused rather than option-focused, which requires systems that are designed and engineered better with users in mind. Owen Niblock, the developer of Picturepark DAM Connector for Sitecore, said, "DAM is a very simple concept that's very easy to get wrong.”

Diamond explained that “Picturepark will cease to address the concept of DAM as a whole, and it will better address the specifics that make up the management of digital content. It's a tall order, to be sure. But the DAM industry is going to whither away unless DAM vendors start getting real about innovation and forecasting what happens next. DAM Lite is hardly innovation. It is, in fact, admission that innovation is missing.” Take a look at David Diamond’s article “Reinventing Digital Asset Management” for more of his industry insights.

Consumer Video for Web and Social Channels

Most of the vendors are looking for ways to make video more accessible for both the consumer and the novice producers. Vendors are creating features for the novice producers, ranging from light video editing tools that make it easier to edit and publish videos to multiple channels to improving performance for transcoding videos. Vendors are looking for faster time-to-market and more videos shared through multiple channels including social networks, targeting the consumers..

John Price, OpenText DAM, said,

Marketing, commerce, video and omnichannel demands are increasing and pushing DAM beyond the traditional approaches. That’s why we are so excited for our latest release of Media Management coming out in January. This release has a completely redesigned user experience with a simple yet very powerful HTML5 interface that reduces complexity and unnecessary clutter. Also adding responsive design for mobile and touch-enabled devices. This means greater usability and adoption for organizations, on top of a core DAM infrastructure platform built for integrating fast growing, high volume marketing environments and large enterprise operations."

MerlinOne is developing a new browser interface that allows users to edit videos including mark up, clipping, add topics and metadata tied to the timeline. The new browser will allow users to perform frame grabs, export a video or just a video clip. The videos are run through speech to text engine to automatically create metadata along the timeline, which makes spoken word searchable.


MerlinOne video browser

Chris Williams, senior vice president world wide sales at Evolphin Software said it is "developing a live radio / TV broadcasts capture / storage capture feature that will release during the second half of 2015. At that same time, we will release new video searching technologies that have the ability to search video to find particular elements within the videos such as faces, graphic and more.”

North Plains is adding new tools for novice users to ingest multiple video formats and new collaboration tools for novice users to edit video in a much broader way. The idea is for users to take the best videos they can create and use it to represent their brand through social channels, with guardrails to prevent poor quality video from getting out.

The demand for high quality video that is easily accessible is rapidly growing. Taylor noted, “Walmart is producing more HD quality video in a day than some broadcasters, and it is a retailer.” Novice users need to be able to work with video. The new video user interface North Plains will be releasing promises an intuitive video editing user interface that customers are familiar with, similar to YouTube. Taylor explained that users don’t need to be aware of the mechanism behind the video editing, all they need is a rock solid tool for ingesting videos that work for large HD video files. North Plains is also working on a hybrid DAM with local and remote storage that will allow large files to be transcoded and stored locally with workflows to share the smaller files through the social channels.

Bynder is releasing advance video searching that includes OCR, embed digital rights and watermarking in video. It is also pairing its SaaS solution with an on-premises Bynder video converter that acts as a proxy to transcode the videos on-site, before uploading to the Bynder SaaS DAM which then syncs in the background.

In the second half of 2015, WAVE Corporation will extend its Adobe Plug-Ins that currently include InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop, to include Adobe Premiere (MAM) and Dreamweaver (WCM). This will allow web content editors to work with video within the authoring applications. This new feature will also include transcoding multi-media files into time-stamped segments that allow for users to add metadata tied to the time code.

Till Tomorrow

That is just a small taste of what to expect from digital asset management in the days ahead. Check in tomorrow when we take a look at progress being made in interoperability and in business intelligence and analytics.

Title image by Alex (Flickr) via a CC BY 2.0 license