“What is digital asset management (DAM)?” This is by far the most common question that comes up in Forrester’s DAM-related inquiries. In part, it’s because the DAM term is going to quickly become antiquated.

Why?

Forrester defines a digital asset as any item of content that has been formatted into a binary source. Using this definition, digital assets could essentially include anything and everything: Office documents, audio files, HTML pages, videos, etc. DAM has also traditionally been used in only rich-media heavy verticals (e.g. publishing, media/entertainment, advertising), creating the sense that this is a niche ECM product geared towards the print channel.

Time for a New Term

In reality, the term “Digital Asset Management” does little to describe what DAM solutions actually provide. It is both imprecise, and often misleading. A large healthcare organization Forrester recently spoke with was using a DAM solution to house mostly word documents, and housed almost no rich media content. Since vendors often have varying definitions for DAM, they sometimes sell anything and everything under the DAM moniker.

The DAM term clearly hasn’t quite caught up to how DAM has evolved in the current marketplace.

These rich media management solutions will encompass software that enables the production, management, distribution and retention of rich media assets such as images, graphics, audio and video.

Enterprise Uses for DAM

As DAM focuses more on rich media management, it will begin to break out of its niche-status (and if our inquiry numbers are anything to go by -- a nearly 60 percent year over year increase -- we have started to see DAM break out). As they continue to break out of this niche-status, DAM solutions will be sold to exclusively manage rich media content across multiple different use cases:

  • High-end production. This use case tends to be aligned with the more traditional (often print-oriented) rich media industries such as advertising, media, entertainment and publishing.
  • Marketing operations. Marketing departments need to support an increasing amount of rich media multichannel marketing content throughout the content lifecycle. Based on client inquiry and consulting, Forrester has seen the greatest growth in this area of the market.
  • Corporate audio/video. Some firms require rich media management to support internally-facing content like training videos and corporate recordings.
  • Line-of-business general purpose. Some organizations require a rich media management system to be a one-size-fits-all solution across departments. They might house brand collateral, online content and internal content all in the same system, which isn’t specifically tailored to any one of those. These organizations want a parking lot for all their finished rich media assets.

DAM is obviously evolving to support rich media content across multiple different use-cases, but that’s certainly not all that is happening in the market landscape. Unlike in the past, DAM is no longer viewed as a siloed solution buried away within an organization’s creative department.

DAM in Relation to CXM

Instead, DAM’s important role in supporting persuasive content (content that influences external audience behavior) makes it a key component of the new set of customer experience management (CXM) solutions. The CXM solution set is emerging from the components of multiple technologies in order to better support the creation and management of rich, interactive, multichannel experiences.

Forrester defines CXM as:

A set of solutions which enable the management and delivery of dynamic, targeted, consistent content, offers, products, and service interactions across digitally enabled consumer touchpoints.

DAM is a key process-based solution that enables business users to create rich and engaging experiences as it will help create and manage unstructured rich media content, a key component to deliver exceptional customer experience.

This will be DAM’s future and, for vendors, those that continue to invest in key integrations and alliances with other CXM solutions will be well-positioned for success. For end-users, it’s time to start thinking about DAM as a key component of overall CXM strategies.

We recently wrapped up our research for a DAM Wave, and the results of that Wave show that vendors who align themselves along with a CXM strategy are those best positioned to succeed in this fragmented market.

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