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In my practice and within my profession, I am often asked where DAM is headed and what needs to be done to foster a greater sense of community. In the DAM course I teach at San Jose State University, I empower my students with the knowledge that community is created by action and shared beliefs, and DAM is no different to this.

In its most optimal iteration, the modern business environment is a social learning enterprise and is most effective when it serves as a conduit to data sharing. DAM has been a significant engine contributing to this change and will help drive future needs for users and customers alike. A brief review of DAM’s origins and purpose will serve to illuminate its future direction.

What is DAM?

DAM is the business process of managing digital multi-media assets for strategic use, re-use and future access as directed by the business. DAM controls every aspect of a digital asset’s life cycle through its ingestion into the system, application of security rules, cataloging, storage, retrieval and distribution.

These digital assets may well include digital photographs, animations, videos, graphics, music, 3D Models or even documents as is needed by the business and its objectives.

Consider the advantages of DAM when you know the answers to these questions:

  • How can the use of computer software and/or hardware systems aid in downloading, renaming, rating, archiving, optimizing, maintaining and distributing digital files?
  • How do professionals manage the massive influx of digital content in all areas of private and public operations, as well as user-generated content?

DAM is well positioned to lead in the future for data management and customer experience management.

How Did It Come About?

DAM started as a practice in the 1990s born out of the printing and photography industries in tandem with the explosive rise of the Internet and digital communications. “Assets” flowing into feeding into Content Management (CM) systems for the web -- images, graphics, documents, video -- were not being managed effectively.

There was a need for technological solutions facilitating workflow for enterprise-wide image and graphic libraries and to share those assets both internally and externally for use and reuse.

DAM effectiveness was eventually enhanced by the application of XMP technology in addition to existing IPTC standards for managing information so that users would be able to identify assets with accuracy and authenticity. The road was set for DAM.

Why is DAM Needed and Who is Doing It?

Using DAM can deliver explicit knowledge and measurable cost savings, as well as other tangible benefits for the enterprise and senior marketing and production management, such as:

  • “Brand” identity
  • Improved workflows
  • Cost reduction

The DAM profession includes a wide variety of participants from active practitioners, students, systems integrators, analysts, vendors, designers, marketeers and experienced consultants all working with DAM and contributing to its value and ROI.

Many have come from the “printing / graphics” industry, some have come from IT, and a significant portion have come from a library / archival / information science background. DAM is now maturing as a profession and there are many needs for new, skilled individuals to participate in DAM from a creative, strategic, management or technical level.

Where is DAM Headed?

It is not simply “content” that is “King” anymore, but alas, all the “Kings” men must be considered as part of the kingdom:

  • Brand
  • Content
  • Access
  • Search
  • Digital Rights

Whether it is via mobile devices or enterprise architectures, all of these “Kings” have real value to the business objectives of DAM and to a greater degree, the customer experience from the brand.

DAM is not just a process and a practice, it is a profession that demands standards, best practices and a community in which to share and collaborate. Those who participate and contribute to this field come from a variety of academic and professional disciplines and now, more than ever, there is an eagerness and willingness to create a community of shared values, beliefs and practices.

As an example, the DAM Foundation, initiated in 2011, has been created to serve the role for the profession, and more importantly, the professionals seeking a common discipline in which to collaborate, learn and work within.

DAM as a practice and profession is maturing and requires a dynamic forum in which to participate; we need best practices and standards to help DAM mature as that shared, creative playground in modern business.

The social enterprise will be a connected enterprise where collaboration tools will connect information to individuals and departments within the organization. The distribution of high quality content for end users will be governed by leveraging new access points and delivery systems, and DAM is the vehicle critical to this process by providing a tighter integration of systems, content, information management and social collaboration.

While it is not clear exactly what the future of DAM will be, there is likely to be a continued need for publishers and organizations to create high quality content for professional use, and especially to provide additional access points and new usage environments to meet changing professional needs. With metadata as the engine, DAM is very much part of this process to be the vehicle for effective marketing management.

Title image courtesy of Leigh Prather (Shutterstock).

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