I’ve worked in Digital Asset Management software marketing for more than 14 years. In that time, while I’ve been doing everything I can to shine a light on the benefits of DAM, I’ve heard DAM naysayers make convincing arguments to the contrary. Below are the five best arguments against DAM that I’ve ever heard.

1. Digital Asset Management Software is Not Necessary

Virtually any organization could function without digital asset management software. For some it would be a lot more difficult than for others, but DAM software serves no function that couldn’t be duplicated, at least in part, through manual file management processes.

In other words, DAM ain’t Photoshop.

Organizations that don’t see DAM as necessary have usually developed a manual approach to file management that’s based on some combination of agreed-upon rules, operating system search functions and communication via email or some other means.

It’s tough to argue any approach that works, but the question is whether the process can scale and whether it’s sustainable. How long does it take to train new employees to understand how things work? How dangerous is a workflow mistake? Would this manual approach to DAM work if your workgroup was twice its current size or you opened another office? How easy (and network-safe) is it for you to share content with those outside your organization?

DAM software is most easily seen as not necessary when the organization in question can be seen as not growing. For example, a town’s most popular restaurant can sustain itself for decades without the need to expand. While menus, advertisements and employee records must be managed somewhere, chances are that Flo knows perfectly well where everything is and how everything works.

Don’t question her and no one gets hurt.

2. Digital Asset Management Software is Too Expensive


Whether DAM software costs nothing or costs more than real estate, the implementation of DAM software (when done right) is never free. DAM software vendors that claim their software is “free” or requires nothing more than a “double-click install” are kidding themselves, or trying to kid the market.

DAM software, at the very least, must be integrated into business processes. This means that even after the “free download” and “double-click install” fantasies are over, the harsh reality of “what do we do with it now?” sets in. Configurations must be made, and adjustments will be required over time to fine-tune the system to keep pace with your organization’s evolution.

Having a DAM that isn’t configured for your needs is like a having roll of fabric, some thread and a pair of scissors that someone sold you as a “business attire solution.”

3. Digital Asset Management Software is Too Complicated

One of the best reasons to avoid DAM is that it can add so much complexity to your business processes that you’ll wish you had no business processes. In the more than 20 years since DAM software was first made available commercially, users have consistently complained that DAM software is too difficult or cumbersome to use.

In fairness to DAM vendors, DAM software is often purchased to provide some sort of adult supervision to workflows that are unpredictable at best. But DAM software isn’t Supernanny. Do your own parenting and get your house in order before you decide the babysitter isn’t a good fit. When used to manage manageable workflows, good DAM software can actually be very easy to use.

That said, DAM software vendors could be doing more to make DAM software less cumbersome. Remember when cars had giant chrome bumpers and ornaments designed to attract attention and make the car appear to be larger than life? Well, those days are gone for software design too.

You just wouldn’t know it by looking at what’s sitting on the DAM software lot.

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4. We Don’t Have Anyone to Manage a DAM

If you don’t have someone who will “own” the DAM at your organization, then stop your DAM software purchase process right now. It makes no difference whether a DAM is located in your server room or in the Cloud, someone needs to manage it. Someone needs to be its advocate, too, because there will be plenty of critics. More importantly, someone needs to be the militant visionary willing to bitch-slap your DAM vendor into fixing what’s wrong and doing what’s right.

Without an owner, your DAM software will rarely be used, and your DAM initiative as a whole will fail. Not having someone to own your DAM is a great reason to avoid having a DAM.

5. Dropbox and Google Drive are Killing DAM

Google Drive is a place I would vacation if I could. It’s so simple and clean, and the value proposition is so easy to explain.

But what I love most about Google Drive is that I don’t have to do anything other than save a file. I don’t have to remember to upload it into a DAM and I don’t have to deal with tagging, assigning categories or any of the rest of the annoyances associated with proper digital asset management. Within moments of closing my 25MB PowerPoint presentation, it appears on my Android phone ready for me to, you know, be happy that it’s there.

Then I remember that I’m not the only person in my workflow. Others actually do need those tags and categories to find my files. They don’t have the benefit of the “Recent Items” feature on my computer, and they can’t read my mind to know that my most recent budget is called “Book1.xlsx,” at least for now.

Worse, sometimes I forget to share a new file with those who need it. Sure, I could share an entire Google Drive folder, but would you? Call me crazy, but there’s something about sharing a folder via Google Drive that makes me feel like I’m giving strangers keys to my house to visit whenever they like. I’m all for my personal convenience, but I don’t want files on my computer that I haven’t put there.

Further, when I share something, I like to see who accessed it and when. Not that this usually matters any more than being able to access a 25MB PowerPoint from my Android phone, but you know how we marketing people are about our stats.I like that my DAM can show me the “who” and “when” of file sharing because sometimes it really does matter.

I love my Google Drive, but I’ve learned it’s a convenient storage location, not a DAM. Whether Dropbox, Google Drive, iDrive, SkyDrive, Cloud Drive, all-wheel drive or any of the rest, “management” is the most important word in Digital Asset Management. If DAM was just about file sharing, it would be called Digital Asset Sharing or DAS. And the last thing we need in this space is another acronym.

Image courtesy of Vladyslav Danilin (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: To read more of David's insights into the world of DAM, check out Cloud DAM vs. On-site: There is No Real Contest