Digital Asset Management, Customer Experience, Finding Our Way, DAM StyleIn one sense DAM is all over the map. There are subway style route maps to help you find your way and any number of “journeys” (or at least the “5 Best Ways …”) leading to that digital asset management / customer experience nirvana. With all the consultants, reports, vendors and products out there “enabling” and “empowering” us, how come it feels like we’re stuck in a Where’s Waldo? world?

We all can see how technology and digitization are transforming organizations, even changing societies and cultures. Digital Asset Management has morphed as well. Organizations are recognizing the need for DAM due to the tremendous increase in the amount of digital media in the organization.

Back in the day, many organizations could get by with shared drives and the institutional knowledge stored by Earl in graphics. Earl retired, and, after a few website re-launches and brand makeovers, consensus was that there must be a better way.

Fast forward to now and in many organizations it’s not which DAM you have but how many DAMs. Marketing, business units, regional and international teams went out to get the DAM tailored for their specific needs. The original problem DAM was supposed to solve was recreated; too many disconnected repositories and silos, and no central repository storing the single source of truth.

Add to that the pressure of marketing to many new channels -- the omni-channel customer experience -- which has created its own challenges. “Mobile is hot, we need to have a mobile customer experience”; “We’re putting up kiosks all around the country we need to produce the content”; “let’s put some links and images in the email campaign”; “How can we get these videos on our Facebook page.” Each new channel needs creation, production, operations and delivery -- usually another team to make, manage and move the digital assets.

Do We Need DAM?

In asking the question it implies there is an alternative, or we take the Luddite approach and go back to file folders, phone calls and couriers. Yes, we still need DAM, in all its wonderful array of many-colored solutions.

Despite the market cacophony of products, features and specialized deployments (MAM, PAM, MRM, PIM, PCM, SaaS …), DAM is helping companies be more successful. There are great stories of how DAM has transformed organizations -- you likely see it whenever you go online, all those branding images and videos are created, managed and stored, maybe in a DAM. It begins with organizations asking that question, do we need a DAM, do we have the right DAM?

Taking on this endeavor, the DAM Champion (DAM Hero?) has a lot of work ahead. It requires understanding the process from initiation, creation, management of the assets, publishing, distribution and metrics. Documenting how things work, who does the work, how different departments are involved, the amount of time and effort for each task, the cost of lost time, duplicated effort, lost opportunity, all of this is critical to start building a business case.

In many organizations to get the budget, overcome organizational inertia and resistance to change requires a compelling case to justify the change. Below are some key things that will lead to a successful outcome. Keep these in mind to help find your way:

  • A purposeful strategic vision for digital media in the organization
  • Commitment and buy-in from the organization
  • A partnership with the vendor and integrator for mutually assured success
  • Structured, phased approach
  • Relentless user-adoption, celebrating success
  • Knowing what done looks like

Enterprise DAM and Platforms

Digital Media workflows and DAM are critical for enterprises and high value brands, allowing them to accomplish their goals in e-Business and Customer Experience transformation. Every department and business unit has rich media assets and the amount and size of those assets continue to grow. Some rich media, such as video or high definition imagery, are bandwidth intensive. It can also be difficult to find and reuse media if it isn’t properly tagged or archived.

By centralizing all of your rich media assets in a common media management repository, the entire organization can repurpose digital assets across multiple channels at a lower cost. As enterprises are stretched to take on more types of media production and distribute into more customer experiences, it requires investment in best-in-class solutions across the digital media value chain. This means continuing to advance the core features of the DAM, as well as to integrate related capabilities.

Enterprise DAM, e-DAM, as a platform is not a one-size-fits-all proposition; it implies the flexibility to be purpose-built for the enterprise. DAM is the centralized repository, single source of truth for digital assets, storing all the rich media for the enterprise. E-DAM is a core infrastructure with capabilities to “media-enable” the entire enterprise, especially digital marketing.

The rich media assets in e-DAM are delivered to Customer Experience touchpoints adapting to the workflow and conforming the content for consumption. Inside and outside the firewall, e-DAM manages control and access to the final, approved digital assets to be used and consumed. On the other end e-DAM integrates with different creative environments such as video production, graphics, photo and images; each having unique workflows, formats and requirements. E-DAM integrated across creative teams allows collaboration, review and approve processes, extensive search and discover, file check in and out. This is the Create to Consume Information Flow, an integrated stream incorporating the People, Processes and Technology to serve the purpose and goals of the organization.

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As the velocity of digital marketing increases, information silos and disconnected processes become bottlenecks in the information flow. Interoperability and integration are keys to customer experience transformation.This becomes more important as the amount of data -- what is known about the customer -- continues to grow.

Knowing purchase history and patterns, web analytics, demographics and other data sources provides actionable information to target, segment and personalize communications across experiences. Extending e-DAM using business process management for an orchestrated information flow, integrated with enterprise ERP and CRM systems, provides the intelligence layer for delivering timely, rich and compelling customer experiences.

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DAM delivers the consistent messaging and branding across channels, contextualized and conformed on-the-fly, increasing engagement and ultimately driving revenue. This is the aspiration of an enterprise DAM ecosystem: multiple media-enabled environments, integrated, interconnected with shared data, and automated data-driven processes supporting the enterprise Create to Consume Information Flow.

It’s a Strategy, Waldo

DAM is a great technology solution. It saves time, reduces frustration, increases productivity and provides consistent branding. As it continues to mature, it is asked to do more and more. New features and functionality are bolted on as vendors are compared against checklists. Seeking a technical solution results in requirements, features, functionality and getting more for less -- and it’s all over the map.

Enterprise DAM is more than just a technology solution. As a platform it takes care of the DAM 1.0 requirements but more importantly it sets a foundation for the future. Enterprises are crafting digital media and marketing strategies taking into account their unique purpose and core competencies to fit together and understand all the pieces in a complex ecosystem. As media permeates all areas of an enterprise, agile, adaptable and interoperable will be the important features for an Enterprise DAM.

Title image courtesy of Moriartys (Flickr) via a Creative Commons License

Editor's Note: Read more of John's thoughts on DAM in DAM Irony and the Evolving Ecosystem