Forrester has released a new report that defines best practices for digital asset management (DAM). Surprisingly, Forrester was able to distill the behavior down to three practices. Before you get too excited at your chance to become a DAM expert in three easy steps, you might want to read this article.

DAM: The Immature Content Management Sibling

If you aren’t familiar with digital asset management, you can cut yourself a little slack. According to Forrester, lots of people aren’t. Unlike the related enterprise and web content management disciplines, many enterprises have no real concept of DAM outside of being something beavers build or a misspelling of a swear word. Despite the limited understanding, the necessity for DAM solutions is growing as enterprises leverage increasing amounts of rich media.

DAM focuses on managing multimedia. While much of the conversation regarding DAM is about tools, the technology is only an enabler for the concept. At its core, DAM is about making managing rich media resources like videos, images and audio faster and more efficient. Activities like search, asset reuse, ensuring brand consistency and collaborating with external agencies occur whether or not technology is involved. In fact, you could accomplish DAM in an ECM platform with multimedia capabilities and the appropriate workflow configuration.

Best Practices Revealed

Forrester derived the ECM-inspired list of DAM best practices based on interview with vendors, customers and industry professionals. Your anticipation is probably building. Calm down. The best practices are useful, but far from revolutionary. Forrester selected the following broad recommendations:

  • Develop a taste for the different flavors of DAM.
  • Apply rich media-specific governance.
  • Make rich media metadata management a religion.

Fortunately, the report elaborates on each item providing additional guidance as well as pitfalls to avoid when implementing DAM.

Develop a taste for the different flavors of DAM.

The first best practice focuses on minimizing the risk of selecting an inappropriate solution. Significant segmentation exists in the DAM market; there are wide variances in product capabilities and features. Companies must carefully evaluate solutions and ensure alignment with asset management strategies. Failure to do so can have serious consequences -- extended timelines, failure to achieve optimal benefits and extended budgets. Forrester provides additional guidance on capabilities, like ability to integrate into the technology ecosystem, that organizations should consider in detail when selecting a tool.

Apply rich-media-specific governance.

The second best practice is more process focused than the initial guidance. Best practice number two addresses the necessity of having appropriate procedures, guidelines and organizational structures in place to ensure that content is properly managed. The report accurately highlights that if a governance process is not defined and enforced, no solution will be successful. In addition, Forrester warns against:

  • Failing to understand requirements for new content types
  • Overly aggressive disposal policies
  • Poor awareness of content growth and usage

when creating a governance strategy.

Make rich media metadata management a religion.

The final best practice advises organizations on the importance of taxonomy and metadata management. Taxonomies and metadata are critical components for ensuring content is easy to locate. No matter how sophisticated the solution, if users can’t find its contents, the value is limited. Searching a DAM solution is not like Google: it requires a bit more work to be useful.

Next Steps

Forrester provides three additional best practices, which it terms “next practices” that organizations should consider pursuing after implementing the three basic best practices:

  • Strategize for globalization/localization
  • Understand DAM’s expanding role in the asset life cycle
  • Consider multichannel distribution

Forrester provides a diagnostic tool that allows readers to evaluate the sophistication of their DAM program before implementing the report’s recommendations.

Overall, the report felt a little too heavily technology focused. Organizations that have immature DAM programs might benefit more from best practices related to creating a DAM strategy than guidance on selecting tools. The report admits that many organizations don’t even understand the definition of DAM, so jumping to a discussion of tool selection and metadata seems a bit premature . As with all analysts’ reports, everyone has an opinion or three about what should have been included. What are your thoughts on Forrester’s selection for DAM practices? We would love to hear them.