Many questions

DAM, it’s that time of year again – to look backward at the soon-to-be-ancient-history of the past year in digital asset management (DAM).

It's a broad topic. DAM refers to the rules and processes an organization puts in place to manage, retrieve and distribute their digital media, such as photos, videos, PDFs, presentations and documents. It's more than an asset repository, though. DAM provides support for key workflows such as approval loops and virtual collaboration that add value to their media assets.

So let's take a look at some key trends.

Identity Crisis?

Is digital asset management having something of an identity crisis? One could be forgiven for such a thought after looking at the many articles in asking some variation of that question, including:

… my car was recently rear-ended and an insurance adjuster came to evaluate the damage. She took pictures and filled out an evaluation form on her tablet. Insurance claims in the past were managed on paper and stored in physical file folders, along with photos of the damage. Now, the paperwork, photos and videos are all digital content to be cataloged and stored for processing. In this context, it wouldn't make sense to store the photos in a DAM application and manage the case in a separate application.”

While the need for DAM is stronger than ever, I do not think the DAM platforms as currently offered have long-term futures. The DAM Platform as an independent entity is unlikely to be able to compete over the longer term and is already running out of the steam necessary to sustain momentum.”

In fact, one DAM Vendor, NetXposure, says explicitly that its job is to make DAM disappear. But at least one DAM defender claims  “the argument that companies don’t need DAM any more is like arguing that the employees at your company don’t need kitchens at home anymore because you have a kitchen at the office.”

You get the idea. Please add your two cents in the comments below about whether the merging, death, renaming or final dissolving integration of DAM systems are imminent or, as Mark Twain noted in other contexts, are being greatly exaggerated.

Zillions of Channels

The past year has seen DAM capabilities added to existing systems, such as CMS, as well as a constant stream of integrations with the many internal or external systems that are needed for publishing, marketing or other purposes involving assets. A key driver: the pressing need to produce and distribute for what are already zillions of channels and rising.

Notable examples have included Telerik’s addition of DAM to its web content management platform Sitefinity, or, going the other way, WebDAM’s updating of its platform with an embedded Web CMS.

DAM systems are highly dependent on how well they play nice with others. In November, the venerable Widen released 7.0 of its flagship Widen Media Collective, which included a WordPress Plugin, integration with Amazon’s long-term storage service Glacier and its content delivery network (CDN) CloudFront and a Drupal module.

In October, Razuna launched a raft of new APIs to support its growing OEM partner network for marketing management platforms, content management systems and Product Information Management systems, as well as integration with CDN Akamai. Woodwing has continued its forward march of integrating its Elvis DAM acquisition into its Enterprise publishing tool, as well as with such tools as one2edit to assist its tight working relationship with Adobe InDesign. And DAM vendor Netx announced an integration with creative workflow platform ConceptShare.

Going Mobile, Going HTML5, Getting Asset Ports

Like everything else, DAM has discovered that the world doesn’t just sit at a desk. This past year has seen a steady stream of mobile apps or expanded mobile apps, including ones from WebDAMWoodwing, Extensis and others.

And HTML5 adoption moved steadily forward in 2014, including WoodWing’s updating of its Elvis Dam with a HTML5 Web client and the launch of HTML5 at video trend-setter Netflix.

Also popping up in 2014: portal access into DAM systems for specific, limited purposes. This included Picturepark’s inclusion of branded asset portals in its version 8.5, Widen’s unveiling of its Smartimage service for public distribution of assets, North Plain’s launch of Xinet Digital and OpenText’s new Portal for Media Management.


  • The trend of the digitization of libraries reached what may be its peak so far, with the launch in 2013 of the Digital Public Library of America.
  • And the cloudification of everything has led to what could be a highly useful tool, a harbinger of many such cloud-based tools: Amazon’s cloud-based Transcoder for converting video files to other formats in the cloud.

Launches and Updates

Major announcements this past year included Adobe’s new DAM offering, WoodWing’s release of Elvis 4.0 and Widen’s updating of Media Collective with Dropbox integration and with a new Ratings function.

Extensis updated its Portfolio Server DAM, WebDAM recast its interface and its “experience” and Canto launched Cumulus 9.

There was also the release of Adam 5, the launch of Tactic’s 4.0, the continuing efforts by the revamped North Plains to improve efficiency and interoperability among its product suite and PicturePark’s implementation of flexible metadata.

What more can I say? Have a DAM good new year!

Title image by Juergen Faelchle (Shutterstock).