Does your company have multiple asset management systems? If so, have you ever thought, wouldn’t it be great if all of these systems worked together? Interconnected systems would allow you to streamline workflows that improve efficiency, reduce costs and help your organization to bring digital products faster to market.

Work is being done to make it easier to interconnect asset management systems. In May, 2014 OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards) formed a technology committee (TC) to look at ways the CMIS (Content Management Interoperability Services) standards could be adapted to include DAM (Digital Asset Management) systems. Ralph Windsor wrote a great article that explains the purpose of CMIS4DAM and the work they are doing.

In general, the goal of the CMIS4DAM is to leverage / adapt the existing CMIS standards for enterprise content management systems to allow for DAM interoperability between CMS and DAM systems by developing DAM application specific CMIS mappings. When completed, this will reduce the cost of developing custom integration between systems and provide an easier way to streamline workflows in CMIS-compliant repositories. CMIS4DAM is a good first step to provide better interoperability between asset management systems, providing a standard for DAM developers to create scalable and compliant interoperability features.

Assessing the Demand

Take a look at the value for interconnecting asset management systems. Is there justification for the time and effort require to integrate the siloed systems?

Start by looking at the systems that would bring the most value by having interoperability. Evaluate the ROI.

ROI is a simple formula (gain from investment -- cost of investment) / cost of investment

If the project saves money or increases revenue more than it costs over the life of the project (usually three to five years), then the project is worth doing. Simple ... right?

All you need to do is figure out how much money the project will save the company (reduce costs) and /or increase revenues. The combination of the two is usually the best approach to estimating the maximum ROI.

How many asset management systems does your organization have?

Most organizations have more than three asset management systems and often many more. Your organization most likely has a Content Management System (CMS) to publish content to the corporate website and a second CMS for the company Intranet. In addition, there is probably one or more Digital Asset Management systems (DAM) to manage non-moving assets, such as photos, graphics, maps and illustrations, perhaps a Media Asset Management system (MAM) to manage assets that can be played, such as videos, audio, pod casts, presentations and webcasts. Finally your organization may also have a Customer Experience Management system (CEM or CXM), a Document Management System (DMS), Library Management system (LMS), Digital Rights Management system (DRM) and the list goes on and on. One of my clients supported more than 50 asset management systems within their organization.

The sheer number of system may be a bit overwhelming, but if you look at the specific jobs these systems perform, you will discover they fill a specific niche and are needed. You may also find some redundancy that could provide opportunities to consolidate systems.

How many of the asset management systems are interconnected?

It may not be a surprise that none of the systems are connected or perhaps only a select few systems have interoperability.

Are there lost revenue opportunities due to the inability to find and repurpose content?

Can your content managers and editors quickly find and repurpose digital assets across your organization?

If it takes a content editor longer than a few minutes to find and retrieve assets they will likely to turn to third party sources to purchase that asset. Great assets could also be hidden within the organization's asset management systems. Even if the person spends the time to perform an exhaustive search across multiple systems, it may require the help of other resources that have access and knowledge of the systems. Consider the cost -- not only the labor costs -- but also the opportunity costs such as loss in revenue due to delayed release of a new digital product.

Case in point: a web content editor. During the course of the day she's tasked with finding and repurposing content for publication. Let’s say the web content editor needs to find a photo located in the organization’s DAM. She'll need to switch to the DAM system, find the asset and download the file locally and then upload the photo into the CMS.

Other questions to consider: Can you quickly and easily find and reuse content to create new digital products? Are you able to search across all media siloes to find content related to a given topic? Do you have the ability to automate publishing and syndication of content across all your systems?

It’s easy to see that having interconnection across multiple systems can increase the organization’s ROI:

  • Improving efficiencies by providing single point of access to all digital assets
  • Accelerating time to market for new products
  • Achieving higher productivity and improve efficiencies
  • Recognizing and acting on new business opportunities
  • Reducing the purchasing of third-party assets
  • Streamlining workflows through automation
  • Enriching assets by joining and associating metadata from multiple sources

Leveraging interoperability of systems to streamline the workflow process for finding and repurposing assets, your team can work faster and help companies realize their competitive market advantage.

What Can You Do Now?

There are two basic approaches to interconnecting your asset management systems. The first is building connections between systems that allow two-way communication. This allows the systems to request information and then send directions back to the asset management systems to act on the request. For example, a users performs a search for assets. The system instructs the asset management system to send the asset to the CMS to be published.

The CMIS4DAM Technical Committee is working hard to provide a standard that will make these tasks easier for internal developers and DAM vendors. Most enterprise content management (ECM) vendors provide application programming interface (API) that allow developers to create interconnections between systems.

Many DAM vendors also provide well-defined “connectors” to make it easier to connect between specific systems. For example Picturepark announced on September 3, 2014 “The Picturepark DAM Connector for Sitecore” This connector allows Sitecore website editors to find, edit and publish assets from Picturepark’s DAM. Many other DAM vendors are offering connectors for a variety of asset management systems.

The second approach is to work with a third party enterprise search company to create custom connectors. Following are some examples of third party enterprise search companies:

  • Attivio
  • Autonomy (HP)
  • Coveo
  • Endeca
  • EMC
  • Exalead (Dassault Systems)
  • Expert System suite (Cogito Intelligence Platform)
  • Perceptive Software
  • FAST (probably the search engine being used for SharePoint)
  • MarkLogic
  • PolySpot
  • SAP
  • Sinequa
  • Solr / Lucene

There are a couple advantages for taking this approach. These vendors specialize in enterprise search and have developed a number of connectors to extract transform and load (ETL) content from multiple data sources into a common metadata store. This provides users with a single, simple interface to find and repurpose assets. Two way communication between systems allows for assets to be uploaded to the DAM from the CMS and so that content curators can publish assets directly from the DAM. Most of these systems also have integrated Business Intelligence tools to help make sense of the raw data. Many also provide semantic searching tools to provide much more relevant searches.

Additionally, with these types of enterprise search tools, other data sets can be integrated, such as user purchasing habits, search history, trending data and other information that provides the opportunity to automatically customize the user experience based on trending interest both on the website and internally.

Either of the approaches can be effectively accomplished, but will require planning and hard work to achieve your goals. Do not underestimate the level of effort it will take to complete this task, but if executed correctly, interconnecting asset managements systems can be a game changer for your organization.

We can envision a day when there is a single content curation system that allows digital editors to find and publish content to multiple distribution platforms, such as print, web and mobile. The work being done by the CMIS4DAM technical committee will take us one step closer to this reality and will hopefully inspire vendors to innovate new interconnected products.