Back in 2008, Real Story Group’s Theresa Regli referred to the digital asset management industry as being stuck in a “bridesmaid” role. As Regli put it:

despite the continued 'on-the-cusp' feel of the DAM industry, it has yet to explode. And, frankly, we question if it ever will. DAM's growth has been more like that of a trusty, stable bond investment than a late-'90s software stock. All the better, perhaps, if DAM grows slowly but surely, even if it's a bit in the shadows."

Marketing and the broader communications landscape have changed drastically since then, of course. It’s hard, but if we try, we can all remember a time in the distant past when we weren’t being bombarded with advertising on our phones, watching video on our tablets, or catching up on the news using our gaming consoles.

Of course, these rapid shifts are a product of better, faster and more affordable hardware and data connections. Back in 2008, digital assets had only a fraction of the potential value they do now.

With these changes came not only new opportunities to integrate digital media into campaigns, but also a clearer justification for investing in systems designed to retain those assets’ value. Indeed, for some brands that investment has become more of an immediate necessity than a newly justifiable convenience.

Can DAM Solutions Keep Up?

So DAM software went from convenient fling to main squeeze. It seems clear now (given the benefit of hindsight) that it was hardly up to the industry itself to generate an “explosion” in growth. Rather, it was merely a matter of ensuring that DAM kept up with the pace of the broader tech industry.

This begs a new question, of course: how much longer can DAM vendors keep up?

After all, a commitment to reacting quickly and wisely to new developments in technology presents its own challenges (sometimes more perilous than those of the innovators the DAM industry is reacting to). In other words, keeping up is as much a matter of path as it is a matter of pace. It might be helpful, for the sake of analogy, to think of a manufacturer of home theater equipment, for whom it’s just as important to have gotten products to market on time as it is to have bet on Blu-Ray over HD DVD.

DAM Skill Sets

We can’t know what the next wave of tech advancements will bring. The only way for us in the DAM industry to make ourselves (and our customers) ready for anything is to strive to be good at everything. We in DAM need to be as good at marketing as we are at metadata, as good at composing pictures as we are at transcoding them.

The organizations best-poised to meet the DAM software needs of the marketing world will be those that see themselves as being a part of -- as opposed to just selling to -- that world.

Whether it’s experience in pre-media and asset creation or a background in image licensing and rights management, DAM vendors need to put a focus on the breadth of their knowledge. In addition, providers of DAM should build their skills as marketers as a means of better understanding the needs and pain points of the industries they serve.

After all, we have a better shot at pulling off this “bride” thing if we can relate to our marketing and multimedia grooms.

Title image courtesy of Virinaflora (Shutterstock).

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