If the decision as to whether an enterprise should deploy a full-blown digital asset management system has been complicated, new research from the Real Story Group -- formerly CMS Watch -- suggests that it is likely to get more difficult as more enterprise content management and web content management vendors offer ‘lite’ DAM features.

According to the research contained in the Digital & Media Asset Management product evaluations of twenty–two vendors, the availability of some standard features in WCM and ECM solutions is pushing pure-play DAM vendors to supply advanced features that would not ordinarily be available in ECM, DM or WCM systems.

The research also indicates that many vendors of these ‘general’ products are picking up business that would have gone to DAM vendors from enterprises that need some kind of DAM but not the full fledged functionality that is offered by companies like Plains, MediaBeacon, ADAM and Widen.

DAM Functionality

DAM is defined as the management of digital media throughout its lifetime and is distinguished by asset management, where an asset is defined as content plus its metadata, or information about the content.

The report adds that a digital asset management system is one that provides a repository for the creation, management and organization, production and distribution of those assets.

The reason that this is becoming an issue now is that pure-play DAM vendors are competing in a very crowded market place where enterprises can get some basic DAM features from content management systems whose principal focus is elsewhere.

As DAM applications have moved away from thick clients to web-based applications, and CMS vendors add basic image/video management features, the distinction is less clear to buyers. The confusion increases as more web content management or document management vendors bid on DAM procurements,” Theresa Regli, Principal Analyst for DAM with The Real Story Group said.

Advanced DAM Features

In response, DAM vendors have upped their game and are offering functionality including:

  • Advanced video and audio management with voice-to-text functions
  • New products specifically for eBooks with multi-channel distribution possibilities
  • Multi-dimensional visual renditions or products

However, while some content management systems offer some DAM functionality that may provide limited management, the research also comes with the caveat that where enterprises are looking for advanced transcoding services or specialized products, it is likely that they will have to invest in more advanced systems.

ECMs With DAM

That many enterprises will be happy enough with the DAM functionality provided with their ECM is clear from the business priorities that were listed in our February poll of what users saw as their biggest DAM challenge.

Of the 441 respondents, 20% said it was a challenge to build a business case for the ROI in a DAM, while user adoption, usability and developing metadata were also cited as major challenges, suggesting that some enterprises would find it difficult to justify deploying advanced DAM.

However, for companies that are considering deployment there are a number of steps that should be considered before ascertaining what kind of solution is needed.

As the use video and audio become increasingly common in both website and intranets, it would probably be a good idea to be clear on these and enterprise requirements before deploying something that no one in the enterprise will ever use.