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Companies increasing reliance on rich media assets is causing them to turn to DAM solutions to help manage them PHOTO: Brad Neathery

DAM has moved out of the wings and into the spotlight. 

Digital asset management (DAM) platforms were once relegated to a supporting role for media industries dependent on large quantities of rich content assets. But given the increased use of rich media assets in all industries, DAM has finally hit the mainstream. 

According to Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research, DAMs have moved to the heart of the enterprise.

In-House Content Driving DAM

Forrester's Vendor Landscape for Digital Asset Management 2017 (fee charged) reports enterprises are looking to develop engaging content for increasingly digitally “distracted” audiences who are being tempted by content from literally millions of companies.

According to Nick Barber, co-author of the report and an analyst with Forrester specializing in video technologies, the rise of in-house content development is pushing the major trends in DAM. Barber told CMSWire:

“There are two big things happening here. Firstly, brands are starting to realize that they don’t need to wait any longer to tell their story, they can tell it themselves. They’re starting to do that by producing their own content. Even as recently as five years ago we used to have to wait for reporters or journalists to tell the story. Now they can bypass that and go direct to consumers.

“We are also seeing a growth in the amount of content that is being created and we know that in terms of content, some of the most engaging types are videos images, infographics, things liked that. It's valuable to a brand not to have to create that content every single time.”

DAM Vendor Landscape

The Vendor Landscape is an attempt to give order to a market where new entrants are popping up monthly.

Forrester included analysis of 27 vendors in this landscape, which it categorized on a best-fit basis into three broad use cases:

  • Enterprise-wide use
  • Marketing
  • Media and production

The authors note that as more enterprises rely on interactive content to appeal to and serve their customers, DAM must integrate into the broader digital experience strategies of the enterprise.

Barber said that this is creating products that are increasingly tied to other enterprise technologies as content management becomes an issue for all departments, not just IT or marketing.

5 Disruptive Trends

Because DAM is only moving towards the center of the enterprise now, several factors will disrupt the space as DAM becomes a core enterprise technology. The report notes five:

1. Cloud

There is a growing interest in DAM in the cloud as enterprises look for rapid deployment times, scalability and monthly operating expenses rather than capital expenditure. Most enterprises are using Amazon Web Services (AWS) for their cloud instances, while regulated industries are also showing interest as DAM tends to manage public-facing marketing content.

2. Convergence

Some web content management (WCM), campaign management and product information management (PIM) vendors now also include DAM functionality, albeit DAM ‘light.’ However, for enterprises with basic needs, these will more than adequately cover all the bases.

3. Analytics

Like just about every other enterprise technology area now, analytics is becoming increasingly important for DAM. In this case, users want to know how content is performing, and where assets were used. Analytics will also become more important as workers outside of marketing interact with DAM systems.

4. Integration

Integration with other enterprise technologies is becoming increasingly important as companies use DAM systems to store customer-facing content and serve content to other solutions such as web content management.

5. Machine learning

Some vendors have already incorporated machine learning capabilities into their systems, but others are looking to do so over the coming months. Vendors are using machine learning to surface metadata, which in turn makes it easier to find and manage rich content.

DAM, At the Center of the Enterprise

“DAM ... is really positioning itself between upstream creative channels and downstream delivery technologies,” Barber said.

Barber sees many DAM vendors positioning themselves in between the task assignment, content review and approval, and governance on the upstream side, and the delivery focus of the downstream technologies. The latter has seen new functionality emerge such as the creation of templates for assets that allow enterprises to globalize and localize content better without having to tie up marketing resources in local geographies.

These technologies also allow users to edit and update content in the DAM itself without having to download it into Illustrator, for example. 

“Some of the companies we are talking too might have more basic need the full DAM capabilities, maybe they have needs in the adjacent technology sphere like product information, or PIM, or WCM,” Barber said.

“The power of the DAM is integrating with those downstream delivery channels so that you can have large volumes of content, in effect a scalable library, that is able to deliver to email, or WCM, or PIM, or CXM, or even videos to social channels.

“This is the overriding, umbrella trend trend that we are seing. DAM is moving to the center between upstream creative and downstream delivery”

It is impossible here to go through the merits of all 27 vendors listed in the report, but it is worth noting that the only company Forrester points to as covering all three use cases —enterprise-wide, marketing, media production — is Waterloo, Ontario-bases OpenText with OpenText Media Bin, or OpenText Media Management. Barber explained:

“The media and entertainment space is unique because there are specific asset management needs in the space. OpenText has the history and legacy of supporting these [media, entertainment] verticals so they have the experience."

The next year will be an interesting one. As DAM becomes an enterprise centerpiece, Barber believes we will see a lot of acquisition activity in the space.

What is clear is that DAM is moving from the wish list to an essential for businesses across verticals. We can expect to see this demand reflected in the acquisition prices should Barber's prediction come true.