In a world with increasing numbers of rich media assets and a diverse set of distribution channels, organizations are taking a closer look at rich media management tools like digital asset management (DAM). However, the market is fragmented, and relatively few big-name vendors offer DAM solutions. The Forrester clients I speak with are often new to DAM (or new to next-generation, customer experience-focused DAM), and are looking for advice on where to get started.What questions should you ask when considering a new DAM system?

1.Do You Really Need a DAM?

Digital experience delivery solutions -- such as web content management, e-commerce, campaign management -- claim to have embedded rich media management capabilities leaving many organizations to wonder whether they truly need a best-of-breed DAM solution. Organizations looking for a standalone DAM solution typically have different functionality requirements (e.g. advanced metadata and taxonomy, globalization/localization, content creation workflows) and different business requirements (cross-channel rich media management separate from the presentation layer, enterprise-wide user base).

2.Can Vendors Be More Than a Rich Media Parking Lot?

As basic functionality -- such as content services -- becomes more commoditized, DAM vendors must prove value by placing greater emphasis on creating a living, breathing system that offering more than a parking lot. Organizations should look for vendors that treat “asset management” as supporting a process rather than manual work. This will require more automation in areas like tagging and metadata/taxonomy management, globalization/localization and workflows. This DAM market overview discusses the future of the DAM space, and areas in which vendors must step up.

3. What’s the User Interface Like?

Most DAM vendors have lagged behind on usability. As more casual marketing and line-of-business users use DAM, look for continued investment in intuitive, drag-and-drop UIs as well as support for mobile-friendly UIs via HTML5 and customer mobile applications. Make sure users can accomplish key functions within two clicks. Too many vendors have neglected investment in this area or mistake lightweight solutions with little functionality for "easy to use" options.

4. Do You Have Governance Structures in Place?

Imagine a scenario where, despite having best-of-breed tools, information workers upload multiple redundant versions of the same asset, fail to record license information or neglect to enter proper metadata. No matter how powerful a DAM system you choose, the system will quickly become unusable.As the head of the DAM practice at an IT consultancy and systems integrator said: "You need a governance model or your content will lose its value over time."

Learning Opportunities

5. Have You Prepared Change Management Processes?

Implementing a new DAM system presents a significant business process change for many groups in your organization, like IT, marketing, product, e-commerce and creative. Adoption continues to be a huge issue for many of the customers we speak with. Mitigate these risks by implementing change management practices.

What are some issues you’ve been exploring when kicking off your DAM initiative? We'd love to hear your thoughts.

Title image by Stephane Bidouze /