As the digital asset management (DAM) market evolves, DAM is shifting from a poorly-defined, siloed application to an integrated customer experience management (CXM) tool with four distinct use cases. In its Q2 2012 Forrester Wave Digital Asset Management for Customer Experience report, Forrester Research details the current state of the still-maturing DAM marketplace.

DAM Finds Itself

Historically, vendors have applied the DAM name to almost any tool that helps manage “digital assets.” As Forrester defines digital assets as any content formatted into a binary source, this obviously has led to confusion and inconsistency in the market. Broadly speaking, DAM has been most commonly identified as a niche component of enterprise content management (ECM), used in production- and print-oriented environments.

However, DAM is now frequently applied to support multichannel rich content development. As a result, Forrester says DAM now supports four distinct use cases. Briefly, these are:US

  • High-end production. This involves the usage of high-end DAM technologies such as facial recognition and speech-to-text tools to manage content throughout its lifecycle, especially by traditional rich media industries such as publishing. Forrester estimates platform cost at $200,000.
  • Midlevel marketing operations. Marketing departments are increasingly integrating high-end DAM solutions with marketing tools like product catalog applications for multichannel content management throughout the lifecycle. Forrester says this is the fastest growing segment of the DAM market. Forrester estimates platform cost at $50,000 to $100,000.
  • Corporate audio and video. Some firms use DAM tools as a repository for internally focused corporate content. Forrester says platform cost in this area varies.
  • Line-of-business general purpose. DAM can be used as what Forrester calls a “parking lot” for finished rich media assets, without lifecycle management or tailoring for specific departments. Forrester estimates platform cost at less than $10,000.

Waiting for Goliath

According to Forrester, the DAM vendor marketplace has “a lot of Davids but no real Goliath,” with few big name players and most participants focusing exclusively on rich media management with annual revenues of less than US$ 30 million. Forrester says DAM vendors fall into categories including:

  • ECM and CXM stack players. This includes well-known vendors with broad content management offerings such as Adobe, Autonomy, EMC and Open Text. However, Forrester says even these large players do not hold large shares of the DAM market.
  • Midmarket players. Forrester classifies very few vendors as true midmarket players in the DAM space. Those falling into this category include Extensis and North Plains (the largest pure play DAM vendor).
  • Veteran smaller players. These longtime DAM solution providers are moving into enterprise, marketing and departmental rollouts. Their number includes Canto, Chuckwalla, MediaBeacon, and Xinet (purchased this year by North Plains).
  • Emerging smaller players. Mostly launched in this century, this class of DAM vendors are attracting global clients. ADAM Software and celum focus on marketing collateral support, while cloud-focused WebDAM is trying to move beyond its higher education stronghold, Nuxeo is an open source provider, and SaaS-based Widen Enterprises is gaining traction among manufacturing users.

DAM Heads in CXM Direction

Forrester concludes that as organizations continue to integrate DAM technology with other enterprise solutions, DAM is becoming a support mechanism for persuasive multichannel customer content. This places DAM into the set of CXM solutions which Forrester says enable management and delivery of dynamic, targeted and consistent content across multiple customer touch points.

In particular, Forrester says DAM technology can help measure customer experience by providing insight into multichannel experience patterns and consumption, engage customers by contextually transforming content across channels and managing transactions and social interactions, and enable the management and creation of digital experiences and content.

Tomorrow, we review Forrester’s evaluation of key DAM vendors.