Social. Mobile. Analytics. Cloud. Big Data. These are the buzzwords that have been used to describe the transformation of all technologies over the past decade. With the evolution of these technologies, we have fundamentally moved from a basic client-server model of computing to a highly distributed, scalable, contextualized and scrutinized computing environment. But how does this concretely affect the future of Digital Asset Management?

DAM was initially created to handle the flood of digital media created in enterprise and business environments. As the tools for digital creation became increasingly democratized and easier to use, media creation flourished. Digital media became increasingly important not only for outbound media, but also for inbound marketing efforts to the point where digital media is now considered a de rigeur marketing component for any large campaign.

As the volume of and demand for digital media has grown over time, the DAM market has been caught up in a feature and function battles where each company tries to one-up each other for decision management, analytics, metadata support, workflow management and other contextual business capabilities. But in fighting these battles, the players in the DAM market needs to look at the big picture and start figuring out where they fit into the Social, Mobile, Analytic and Cloud (SMAC) world that now represents the new world of technology.

Looking Into the Future

It is easy enough to talk about these new functionalities in terms of having a “Social DAM” or “Mobile DAM” and to think that these functions will provide differentiation. But simply adding comments, sharing capabilities and basic collaboration is common sense in a world where Facebook is now over a decade old.

Instead, we need to look at these trends in conjunction and see how these larger forces are creating a splintering of DAM functionality. Since DAM lacks a true market leader, this means that vendors need to start picking and choosing their path to the future as no one company will be able to go into all of these directions at the same time without investing time and resources that will most likely be unprofitable.

To better understand how these trends will affect DAM in the future, it makes sense to group multiple trends together and to look at the potential outcomes for DAM in these amalgamated contexts. Rather than look at each part of SMAC in a vacuum, start looking at these parts in conjunction. For instance, by grouping categories together, amalgamated trends start to become clearer. In doing this exercise, three sets of categories stand out in the way that they will transform DAM going forward:

  • Social, Mobile, Cloud
  • Social, Mobile, Analytics
  • Big Data, Analytics, Cloud

Each of these trends means something different in the DAM world and will require specific new functionalities and support capabilities.

Social Mobile Cloud DAM

When applications are assumed to be shared and social, multiple people can interact with each other, annotate, comment and work on a shared problem. Mobility allows this collaboration to happen ubiquitously and at any time. And the cloud provides infinite scalability from a volume and processing perspective. The end result is a world where every asset can potentially have the best human-guided context, be launched in a timely manner, and be provided as many times as needed in whatever format is needed.

This means creating DAM that is focused on immediacy and context. It needs to be intelligent enough to take in the metadata and context provided by every stakeholder and to take the next step and understand which metadata is most relevant to specific users in specific circumstances. And this exercise needs to happen on demand rather than on a scheduled basis. The Social Mobile Cloud DAM is about supporting end users at the speed of thought and ideation and will require enterprise and mass media scale of asset delivery along with commercial search and artificial intelligence. And it has to be easy to use, with a user experience that is at least roughly comparable to popular commercial applications. The 128-button interface with 13 different tabs isn’t going to cut it in this world.

But imagine a DAM that actually collects social and mobile metadata as it is created. For instance, as a picture is shared on Facebook and Twitter or a video is shared on YouTube, who is collecting the comments associated with that asset and bringing it back into DAM to guide iterative improvement and potential alerts? Mobile observations could be used to actually view the observers of digital signage and read the body language and behavior for new metadata. And, of course, all of this would be stored and analyzed in the cloud. Although there is a backend need for analytics here, the goal is not to provide immediate reporting but to immediately respond to employee and client requests on an ad-hoc basis.