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(UPDATED 8/27) With the announcement of Microsoft’s partnership with the DAM vendor ADAM last month, it would be easy to say that Microsoft has de facto conceded defeat for SharePoint, a MS tool often promoted as a DAM. This would be a mistake; SharePoint and ADAM were never really competitors. Despite the claims of some enthusiastic sales people, SharePoint has never really been functional as a true DAM system. This new partnership solidifies SharePoint’s role in an overall DAM strategy as a file sharing and workflow tool that can be integrated with true DAM system – and especially so with ADAM, as they share the .NET code base.

One question still lingers: will Microsoft continue to promote SharePoint as a DAM tool while using ADAM both internally and as the DAM solution in their cloud offerings? Both the question and its answer open up the complex world of DAM marketing and branding for those in the industry.

Confusion is the Name of the Game

A look at the DAMs in use by the Top 50 brands according to Forbes reflects the confusion in the DAM vendor and software world today.

Rank Brand Brand Value ($ Billion)* Brand Revenue ($ Billion)* DAM Vendor likely used for Brand Management or creative assets
1 Apple 104.3 156.5 Custom internal DAM
2 Microsoft 56.7 77.8 ADAM
3 CocaCola 54.9 77.8 DMX***
4 IBM 50.7 104.5 IBM EMM
5 Google 47.3 43.5 Custom internal DAM
6 McDonalds 39.4 88.3 OpenText
7 GE 34.2 132.1 WebDAM
8 Intel 30.9 53.3 unknown
9 Samsung 29.5 181 Asset Bank**
10 Yves Saint Laurent 28.4 9.4 Canto/Cumulus
11 BMW 27.9 77.6 eyebase**
12 Cisco 27 48.6 Third Light**
13 Oracle 26.9 37.2 Genus**
14 Toyota 25.6 186.6 Celum
15 AT&T 24.2 126.4 Autonomy
16 Mercedes Benz 23.5 90.9 DAMgroup
17 Disney 23.1 22 Global Edit, Canto***
18 Walmart 21.7 299.5 Inkiru (Now Custom internal DAM)
19 Budweiser 21.1 9.9 OpenText
20 Honda 21.1 115.2 OpenText, Canto
21 SAP 19.6 20.3 OpenText
22 Verizon 19.3 115.8 thePlatform
23 Gillette 18.3 8 ADAM
24 Nike 18.2 23.7 Interwoven (Now part of Autonomy)
25 PepsiCo 18.1 13.3 iApproveit
26 American Express 18 33.8 Xinet
27 Nescafe 17.7 10.7 iApproveit
28 L'Oreal 16.9 10.6 Celum**
29 Marlboro 16.6 23.6 iCrossing
30 H&M 16.1 18.3 Canto***, Celum
31 HP 15.3 119.9 Autonomy (HP owns Autonomy), Widen
32 HSBC 15.2 104.9 Interwoven (now part of Autonomy)
33 Amazon 14.7 60.6 Custom internal DAM
34 Visa 14.2 10.4 Brand Wizard
35 Siemens 13.7 100.6 Widen, PicturePark
36 Facebook 13.7 5.1 unknown
37 ESPN 12.9 10.4 ResourceSpace
38 Gucci 12.1 4.7 Documentum
39 Nestle 11.8 11.3 iApproveit
40 Frito Lay 11.6 11.1 iApproveit
41 IKEA 11.5 35.5 ADAM
42 Danone 11.1 13.3 WebDAM
43 Audi 10.9 55.2 Saepio
44 Ford 10.6 130 adnovate
45 Coach 10.5 5.1 unknown
46 Fox 10.2 11.7 Custom internal DAM
47 UPS 10.2 54.1 Genus
48 The Home Depot 10.1 74.8 unknown
49 accenture 9.7 30.4 accenture
50 ThompsonReuters 9.6 7.2 Custom internal DAM

* Source: Forbes, "The World's Most Valuable Brands"
** Source: The Leala Abbot curated DAM List
*** Source: Confidential source

This list only includes DAMs as they are used within brand/marketing/creative divisions. Sounds simple enough, but even that becomes unclear in cases where the creative team and the marketing division use separate DAMs. Corporations as large as these usually have several DAMs that exist as information silos, due to the specific needs of a department, international communication difficulties or office politics.

For example, both OpenText and Brand Wizard list Honda as a customer. It’s possible that these systems exist in divisions of the company that rarely communicate, and have duplicate information silos -- it’s also possible that Honda has managed to build tunnels to pass information between the two very different systems so as to suit two very different internal audiences. Either way, this shows how difficult it is to judge DAM market share as it exists in top companies today. While the chart column listing vendors is labeled “DAM Vendor likely used for Brand Management or Creative Assets,” it might as well continue “… in at least one location or instance.”

No DAM Nirvana in Sight

While one goal of a DAM system should be to centralize assets and prevent the duplication of storage and efforts, DAM systems are too often launched without a clear DAM strategy. Lack of a clear DAM strategy and managerial will to promote and support it means that a DAM risks becoming another information silo, just like the walled content gardens DAMs were meant to replace.

The best DAM systems and strategies ensure that a company has one over-arching DAM (often called an ECM in this case), that governs all other systems with links between them to ensure that issues of versioning are resolved, duplication of effort and storage are minimized, and that communication in asset generation and distribution is clear.

This is clearly the purpose to which Microsoft has set ADAM, and it’s something that ADAM is known to be able to provide to large customers. SharePoint was simply not designed to be anything more than a very lightweight DAM, and could not do for Microsoft what ADAM can. If Sharepoint survives in the DAM space, it will likely do so as part of a DAM strategy that attaches Sharepoint’s functionalities to true DAMs.

Most companies are sadly far from an ECM nirvana, with divisions in corporations each pursuing their own DAM agenda, independent of involvement or governance from top management. This results in a fractured DAM marketplace, with vendors often competing not only with each other for clients, but between different departments within the same companies. Some of the DAMs are better at different tasks than others, and some are simply more robust platforms with more features.

In a crowded marketplace where software like ADAM and Sharepoint can both call themselves DAMs, despite being two very different programs that offer entirely different user experiences, there has yet to emerge one company that dominates.

From a branding perspective, Microsoft is a clear win for the ADAM brand, but as the data shows, there is no clear winner among DAM vendors geared towards marketers.

The DAM Marketplace is still anyone’s game.

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Title image by Seongbin Im (Flickr) via a CC BY-SA 2.0 license