Digital Asset Management is an important part of any organization's content management strategy. Whether it's used to support web content management or enterprise content management, the requirements for a DAM solution have gone far beyond just a solution for storing digital assets.

With more and more organizations focusing on the Internet to attract, maintain and support their customers, CMSWire thought it was time to take a closer look at what is in store for digital asset management this year. And we went to some DAM providers to seek our answers.

DAM Players Weigh In

We had questions, so we went to the industry for answers. Three players in the Digital Asset Management Market gave a look into the world of digital asset management:

  • Eric Barroca, CEO Nuxeo -- A DAM solution coming out with the next release of their Enterprise Content Management Solution, Nuxeo
  • Julie Riley, VP of Business Solutions for OpenEdit -- Open Source Digital Asset Management
  • George Grippo, VP Media Asset Management for North Plains -- a provider of rich media and digital asset management solutions

What are the Top Two Trends in DAM for 2009?

Support for video emerges as a highly demanded feature for digital asset management solutions this year, with a particular focus on the Internet. No longer just a solution for documents and images, organizations are looking for lighter weight solutions (than video management products) to manage their video assets. We see this as more and more websites offer videos and allow user-generated content in the form of video.

George Grippo of North Plains says that, " As the drive for video and other rich media types seems to be growing almost unabated, many DAM vendors are struggling to manage the special requirements that video engenders for DAM applications."

In addition, collaboration -- Web 2.0 style -- is another trend that is moving DAM away from being more than a basic repository. According to Eric Barroca of Nuxeo, users want to work together on developing this type of content, so features such as tagging, annotation for documents, pictures and video, collaborative filtering and viewing assets via a web interface are key to building a better repository of digital assets.

Grippo agrees saying that their customers are looking to be more involved in the creative processes earlier so workflow becomes a key feature along with collaboration, reporting and BPM tools.

Another theme that appears to be taking hold in the DAM market, as it is many other markets, is the SaaS solution. We talk more about SaaS and Digital Asset Management later on.

Julie Riley of OpenEdit also points out that open source is becoming a big trend for digital asset management. Now of course, as an open source DAM provider she would say that (and we are sure that Barroca would agree). Riley says that "Sharing knowledge and allowing developers to have the source code in hand empowers them, it drives innovation."

What are the Most Required DAM Features

There are many things a DAM solution can do and the required features tend to cover the basics first: expanded search capabilities via data mining and XMP (among other approaches), metadata extraction, multi-axis browsing and rights management.

Support for the numerous file types is another feature that DAM vendors need to consider. North Plains Telescope solution, for example, supports over 300+ different file types.

Add to that the integration with web content management systems (discussed in more detail below), browser-based access and workflow capabilities across the enterprise. 

Nuxeo is also implementing some interesting capabilities such as content annotation, large picture support (using a tiling system) and face recognition (work still in progress).

Is There Tighter Integration with Web CMS Products?

The integration between Digital Asset Management and Web Content Management is becoming a critical aspect of any DAM solution. Which is why DAM solutions are coming out of vendors who also have WCM capabilities (both OpenEdit and Nuxeo offer WCM).

Barrcoa believes that while there is a tight relationship between DAM and Web Content Management, the two are still fundamentally different and as a result require different interfaces and functional paradigms.

According to Riley, many organizations are also looking at their solution to integrate with other systems like CRM and Social Networking.

What the Key Markets for Digital Asset Management?

There was time when the strongest markets for DAM solutions were the media and publishing industry. That need certainly hasn't changed, but has only gotten stronger with the ever increasing shift to online services. But they aren't the only markets with a high demand.

George Grippo from North Plains tells us that what "use to be considered a "specialty" application strictly for the publishers , media and entertainment companies, and advertising agencies, is quickly coming to be recognized as a far more widely useful tool for organizations in many businesses." He points to the explosive growth in content creation and demand in all areas of business as the driver and says that the supply of broadband and the market penetration of hand-held devices are pushing the demand for rich media content.

Barrcoa sees 2009 as the year that DAM will truly emerge in the mass market. Riley says that many US companies are just starting to recognize the need to manage their digital assets and they are seeing interest from companies who had older solutions that are no longer supported.

Is a SaaS Offering a Critical Component this Year?

"Definitely, it's the future of software, deliver it as a service, " says Julie Riley. All three vendors either have or are working on a SaaS alternative to their on premise DAM solution. OpenEdit has offered a hosted solution to small to medium sized businesses for over 10 years, but finds larger enterprises tend to want an on premise solution that they can control better.

North Plains also has a SaaS version based on their Telescope platform. One they also say is targeted to the SMB market.

Nuxeo's Eric Barrcoa doesn't see SaaS as key however, stating that "DAM typically needs large volumes and huge data transfers, it might keep it from efficient SaaS solutions for several years. At least from an organization's perspective." Which is likely why we will see more SMBs utilizing a SaaS version than large enterprises, the volume of assets.

How Has The Economy Affected the DAM Market?

It would be wrong to say DAM is unaffected by this economy. But then, you can say that about every product or solution today. For open source vendors like Nuxeo and OpenEdit, it's the fact that they are open source and a DAM solution that keeps the customers and prospects coming to them.

For North Plains, their seasoned experience and the latest SaaS version will likely keep them in a top position.

All three also point clearly to the fact that they work very closely with their customers, and build their solutions based on real world requirements. Solutions based on true customer requirements will continue to thrive in a downward market.

Is Integration with SharePoint Part of Your Roadmap?

Of course, no discussion on Digital Asset Management would be complete if we didn't ask the SharePoint question. The answers didn't surprise us.

For OpenEdit, they can integrate with SharePoint, but have not had customers requesting it. They have, Riley says, replaced SharePoint in a couple of situations. And of course we've already filled you in on Nuxeo's SharePoint plans. "As our DAM solutions leverage the ECM platform, SharePoint integration is already addressed in several ways: either to replace it or to be consumed by it.."

North Plains does not specifically state they integrate with SharePoint, but acknowledge that their solution is designed to integrate with third-party applications via a standards-based web services integration layer. Their solution also co-exists with EDMS for pure document management. And they are clear on this "any DAM system worthy of consideration must 'seamlessly' integrate within an existing IT infrastructure with minimal disruption."

The Real Beginning for Digital Asset Management

Just as more and more organizations move to implement social media solutions of one kind or another, the market for a supporting Digital Asset Management Solutions seems set to explode.

We think that North Plains Grippo sums it all up nicely. "There is no indication that the appetitie for rich media content will wane anytime soon so we anticipate that the demand for proficiency-optimizing DAM systems will continue to grow equally unabated."

We've heard from three vendors who are in there, living the DAM world every day. Do you agree with their insights? Think something has been missed? Let us know, we value your contribution to the conversation.