doing her homework

Buying a DAM? Do Your Homework

5 minute read
Denzil Ford avatar

When you go to the doctor, you go with the expectation that the doctor will help solve whatever problem brought you there. But chances are, you’d never just walk into a random health professional’s office expecting to receive quality care. To maximize limited time, you’d educate yourself about your current condition and possible options for improving it, right?

Well, the same goes for choosing a digital asset management (DAM) solution. 

DAM Lies and Statistics

When seeking to learn about DAM, the first place people turn is to online resources. However, the problem is that there’s a lot of DAM industry content and it isn’t always clear which sources will serve you best. 

Here’s an eight-step approach to breaking through the volume of content and separating the signal from the noise when it comes to wrapping your head around the valuable information out there about DAM. 

Start By Learning From Actual DAM Managers

Your first exposure to DAM industry content should be from people who live the reality every day. DAM managers and other DAM professionals have created a lively online community that provides knowledge from the trenches about: 

  • What DAM is and isn’t 
  • Steps for thinking about long-term DAM strategies 
  • How to create and update DAM policies and procedures
  • Ways to build DAM training programs across your organization
  • Factors to consider when building a metadata standard

You can also search LinkedIn for DAM + [your industry] and see what results come up. In many cases, you’ll find professionals who fully embrace the DAM community and have valuable resources pinned to their profiles. You can also search Google for DAM consultants, many of whom have been in business for a very long time. 

Browse Popular Web Publications

When time is of essence, turn to popular web publications because the articles there often boil down complex issues into manageable information and action items. 

Find the search box on a given website and type in DAM or ‘digital asset management’ spelled out. The acronym and the full phrase will often return different results. You can also try related keywords such as metadata, taxonomy, implementation, vendor choice and value chain. 

Scan Industry News

A comprehensive approach to gaining DAM knowledge will also include research about industry trends, business news, acquisitions, vendor product releases and integrations.

Set up a Google Alert to send you notifications when articles on DAM are published. Then collect the names of the publications that publish articles of value to you and bookmark those publications or sign up for subscriptions. One resource to pay particular attention to is DAMNews.

Read Vendor-Neutral Community Articles in Depth

Many of the organizations, consultants and industry experts who describe themselves under this category provide no-nonsense, no-holds-barred critiques of DAM vendors. There are also some great webinars on YouTube.

Learning Opportunities

Scan DAM Resource Lists for Items That Address Your Critical Issues

A quick way to cut through the noise is to find several resource lists that can be scanned quickly for the more specific information you are looking for. My favorites are Tim Strehle’s DAM Reading List and DAM Ready Reference by the DAM Guru Program. 

Read Vendor Content

As you make your way through the resources above, you’ll probably pick up on criticism aimed at the messages that vendors send out to their potential customer base. 

Reading those comments is a great way to use vendor blogs, websites, social media and other collateral to understand the basic parameters of what a particular platform will offer your organization. Look for product pages, use-case blog posts and case studies. You can also assess what level of service the vendor will likely provide by searching their websites for ‘customer’ and looking for content that indicates their relationships with current customers and other stakeholders. 

Get deeper with technical resources

Armed with a knowledge base on the industry, vendors, expert opinions and more, many organizations start soliciting executive buy-in for a DAM program and evaluating a short list of vendors. Your purchase decision is getting serious, and that’s when successful teams start thinking more deeply about what setting up metadata and a taxonomy will look like.  

Use analyst maps of the industry

The technology and industry players compose an incredibly rich landscape full of complex relationships. But to make the best decision for your organization, you must start taking stock of those relationships yourself. Start by looking through materials created by industry analysts, which often include maps that will help you extract the information that is most useful to your business, such as vendor size, platform type, awards, or innovation potential. 

Great places to start are Gartner, which publishes articles and visuals of the DAM market landscape (subscription required), Real Story Group which publishes a wide array of materials and landscape maps (purchase required on some) that are tough on vendors for the benefit of customers and G2 Crowd, which also did an analysis for 2017.

Read and Research With Intention

The ultimate goal of all these steps is to identify content that truly will truly help your organization solve its management problems involving digital assets. So in an industry flooded with content, it is critical to read with intention: 

  • Is the piece written to provide a customer value? What value?
  • Does it indicate an understanding of your industry’s use of DAM?
  • Does it indicate genuine understanding of DAM technology?
  • Can I put that technology to work providing solutions to my company’s problems?

About the author

Denzil Ford

Denzil Ford is the content strategist at MediaValet, a cloud-based digital asset management (DAM) company located in Vancouver, BC and an author at DAMNews.