(UPDATED 8/27) With the announcement of Microsoft’s partnership with the DAM vendor ADAM last month, it would be easy to say that Microsoft has de facto conceded defeat for SharePoint, a MS tool often promoted as a DAM. This would be a mistake; SharePoint and ADAM were never really competitors. Despite the claims of some enthusiastic sales people, SharePoint has never really been functional as a true DAM system. This new partnership solidifies SharePoint’s rolein an overall DAM strategy as a file sharing and workflow tool that can be integrated with true DAM system – and especially so with ADAM, as they share the .NET code base.

One question still lingers: will Microsoft continue to promote SharePoint as a DAM tool while using ADAM both internally and as the DAM solution in their cloud offerings? Both the question and its answer open up the complex world of DAM marketing and branding for those in the industry.

Confusion is the Name of the Game

A look at the DAMs in use by theTop 50 brands according to Forbes reflects the confusion in the DAM vendor and software world today.

RankBrandBrand Value ($ Billion)*Brand Revenue ($ Billion)*DAM Vendor likely used for Brand Management or creative assets
1Apple104.3156.5Custom internal DAM
3CocaCola54.9 77.8DMX***
4IBM50.7104.5IBM EMM
5Google47.343.5Custom internal DAM
9Samsung29.5181Asset Bank**
10Yves Saint Laurent28.49.4Canto/Cumulus
12Cisco2748.6Third Light**
16Mercedes Benz23.590.9DAMgroup
17Disney23.122Global Edit, Canto***
18Walmart21.7299.5Inkiru (Now Custom internal DAM)
20Honda21.1115.2OpenText, Canto
21SAP19.620.3 OpenText
24Nike18.223.7Interwoven (Now part of Autonomy)
26American Express1833.8Xinet
30H&M16.118.3Canto***, Celum
31HP15.3119.9Autonomy (HP owns Autonomy), Widen
32HSBC15.2104.9Interwoven (now part of Autonomy)
33Amazon14.760.6Custom internal DAM
34Visa14.210.4Brand Wizard
35Siemens13.7100.6Widen, PicturePark
40Frito Lay11.611.1iApproveit
46Fox10.211.7Custom internal DAM
48The Home Depot10.174.8unknown
50ThompsonReuters9.67.2Custom internal DAM

* Source: Forbes, "The World's Most Valuable Brands"
** Source: The Leala Abbot curated DAM List
*** Source: Confidential source

This list only includes DAMs as they are used within brand/marketing/creative divisions. Sounds simple enough, but even that becomes unclear in cases where the creative team and the marketing division useseparate DAMs. Corporations as large as these usually have several DAMs that exist as information silos, due to the specific needs of a department, international communication difficulties or office politics.

For example, both OpenText and Brand Wizard list Honda as a customer. It’s possible that these systems exist in divisions of the company that rarely communicate, and have duplicate information silos -- it’s also possible that Honda has managed to build tunnels to pass information between the two very different systems so as to suit two very different internal audiences. Either way, this shows how difficult it is to judge DAM market share as it exists in top companies today. While the chart column listing vendors is labeled “DAM Vendor likely used for Brand Management or Creative Assets,” it might as well continue “… in at least one location or instance.”

No DAM Nirvana in Sight

While one goal of a DAM system should be to centralize assets and prevent the duplication of storage and efforts, DAM systems are too often launched without a clear DAM strategy.Lack of a clear DAM strategy and managerial will to promote and support it means that a DAM risks becoming another information silo, just like the walled content gardens DAMs were meant to replace.

The best DAM systems and strategies ensure that a company has one over-arching DAM (often called an ECM in this case), that governs all other systems with links between them to ensure that issues of versioning are resolved, duplication of effort and storage are minimized, and that communication in asset generation and distribution is clear.

This is clearly the purpose to which Microsoft has set ADAM, and it’s something that ADAM is known to be able to provide to large customers. SharePoint was simply not designed to be anything more than a very lightweight DAM, and could not do for Microsoft what ADAM can. If Sharepoint survives in the DAM space, it will likely do so as part of a DAM strategy that attaches Sharepoint’s functionalities to true DAMs.

Learning Opportunities

Most companies are sadly far from an ECM nirvana, with divisions in corporations each pursuing their own DAM agenda, independent of involvement or governance from top management. This results in a fractured DAM marketplace, with vendors often competing not only with each other for clients, but between different departments within the same companies. Some of the DAMs are better at different tasks than others, and some are simply more robust platforms with more features.

In a crowded marketplace where software like ADAM and Sharepoint can both call themselves DAMs, despite being two very different programs that offer entirely different user experiences, there has yet to emerge one company that dominates.

From a branding perspective, Microsoft is a clear win for the ADAM brand, but as the data shows, there is no clear winner among DAM vendors geared towards marketers.

The DAM Marketplace is still anyone’s game.


Title image by Seongbin Im (Flickr) via a CC BY-SA 2.0 license