woman with blindfold on standing in front of a body of water
PHOTO: Oscar Keys

“It's not a faith in technology. It's faith in people.” — Steve Jobs

The decision to implement a digital asset management (DAM) system isn't one to take lightly. It is a step in the right direction to gain operational and intellectual control of your digital assets. DAM is essential to growth as it is responsible for how the organization’s assets will be efficiently and effectively managed in its daily operations.

Any successful DAM implementation requires more than just new technology though. It requires a foundation for digital strategy based on the triumvirate of people, process and technology. Creating the whole DAM solution, and connecting it throughout the martech ecosystem, means assets can generate revenue, increase efficiencies, and meet new and emerging market opportunities.

But buyer beware: the DAM vendor selection process can be overwhelming due to the many DAMs competing for market share. As an organization conducts RFPs, gathers business requirements, and presents its business case, blind spots start to develop. A blind spot is a business requirement, technological short coming, or operational need that is overlooked during a vendor selection process. And, when we say there is a blind spot, we mean an organization appears to be unable to identify, understand or emphasize the technological requirement. Choosing a new piece of technology to purchase has such blind spots for what you don’t know, and you may not know what you need to know.

Know what I mean? Confused? Don’t be.

Vendor demos are the starting point for any relationship and serve two purposes: 1. to showcase the technology and 2. give a sign of the often overlooked partner relations. This is your first impression of the vendor, and they should be willing to take the time with you to understand your needs. In order to remove your blind spots, detail your vision to the vendor. Take the time to learn and ask all the questions over one or two demos before you make any decisions. If you don’t understand the vendor’s bells and whistles, tell them to stop the noise, and get them to show you so you understand. The better the understanding between the two of you, the better you will each be in creating a mutually agreeable business relationship. At the end of the day, the vendor wants to sell, and you want to buy, but to do so you must “learn first” what it is you want, and what the vendor offers.

What a DAM Needs to Do in a Demo

Technology, and DAM itself, is a human endeavor, and that is no more evident than in the sales engineers and product teams working with their DAM system. Many vendors will start with a prepackaged sales demo to hook the buyer. Listen to them, respect their time, always question their demonstration, and don’t stop asking good questions. There are many aspects to the technology that deserve attention and preparedness for the roadmap of work to be done. Technology is incredibly important, and the vendor review and selection process are a critical step in all this. Vital DAM functionalities and common blind spots to ensure vendor demos cover include:

Demo Checklist

  1. Metadata
    1. Ingest / Editing / View
  2. Asset Actions
    1. Upload / Download
    2. Sharing
    3. Collections
    4. Versioning
    5. Commenting / Markup
  3. Search
    1. Filter / Saved
  4. Rights and Usage
  5. Reporting / Analytics
  6. Administration
  7. Security / Permissions
  8. Integrations
  9. Vendor Services
  10. System Capabilities
    1. AI / Machine Learning
    2. Language Support
    3. Disaster Recovery
    4. Mobile

And, never forget to consider the vendor intangibles including pricing, customer support, professional services, and their strategy and product roadmap. Don’t be shy. Ask your vendor sales or product person for what you need as these are all important items to review.

Related Article: Stop Bungling Vendor Demos

Technology Demo Best Practices

A few good tips to ensure the demo experience is both enjoyable and profitable:

  • Be prepared: Have a list of functionalities you want to see.
  • The Show: Less PowerPoint, and more vendor technology please.
  • Show me: Get the vendor to show you how it works, don’t take their word for it.
  • Show me twice: One demo will never do, so plan to have two demos.
  • Client examples: Show more than one example of the DAM system in use with clients.
  • Live is life: Request a “live” demo, in addition to their canned version.
  • Transparency: Goes both ways for the client, and the vendor.
  • Never do it alone: Have a team-based approach so that the collective intelligence of the team strengthens the evaluation, as well as the results.
  • True Cost: The total cost of ownership is great work for you that must be done.

Related Article: How Much Does a DAM System Cost?

Choosing a DAM

The path to success with DAM means driving strategic decisions organizationally and technically. Choosing a DAM vendor requires more than just kicking the tires, it’s flipping the car upside down, filling it with gas, running it down the highway, opening it up and ensuring all the required parts are there from the beginning to the end. Play before you pay and ensure you have tested it for all the requirements you identified. And while you are at it, test-drive two DAMs instead of one, not only to determine which is the best match, but also to start the often-lengthy licensing negotiations as early as possible.

Our goal in working together is to look forward, define a framework and build out the capabilities now that will allow your organization to mature over time and achieve sustainable success.

Related Article: The Uncomfortable Truth About DAM

Choosing a DAM Can Be Enjoyable (Really!)

Have faith in the process of selecting a DAM. It should be an educational and enjoyable process if done well. You need to get your digital house in order, know what your internal business units and external partners need, and understand how you need to deliver assets today — and tomorrow — across multiple channels and devices. And yet, the decision itself to go with a DAM system enacts a chain of questions to be carefully considered before proceeding down the path to DAM. Recognize your blind spots and create a vision to know the things you now need to know.