DAM NY 2015

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May 21, 2015

On May 7th and 8th over 650 professionals descended on the Hilton Midtown in New York City for Henry Stewart’s 12th annual DAM NY Conference to see and learn about all things related to digital asset management (DAM). This year’s theme centered on ‘The Art & Practice of Managing Digital Media – all from the user’s perspective’ and was a common viewpoint amongst many of the speakers. HP, Adobe Creative Cloud, and Media Beacon were the marquee sponsors. However, a bevy of other vendors and consulting organizations sponsored and/or spoke at the show.

DAM NY Panel

Many of the topics centered on the current state of the market as well as where people see DAM going in the near future. There were plenty of well-known brands such as Comedy Central, 3M, and the NHL represented on the panels to share their insights.  Although there were endless puns at the show, we will spare you from any more by simply sharing our observations from the show:

Where DAM is Now

One topic that was popular across multiple sessions was the current state of DAM systems. Industry analysts pegged the average life-cycle of DAM solutions at anywhere between 3 and 7 years depending on a number of factors including complexity, flexibility of integration, and regulatory control of the system itself.  Due to this, many companies are now finding themselves in their second or third implementation of a DAM system within their organization. Issues including not being able to integrate with new platforms, loss of structure and lack of buy-in were cited as the main causes of failure.

Many platforms have addressed the issue of asset retrieval by developing intuitive interfaces with “Google-search” like capabilities. The success of this style of retrieval system, however, is based on how well the metadata is associated with the asset.

Where DAM is Going

An idea that was introduced early on in the conference was the transition from on-premise DAM solutions to cloud based offerings. One analyst stated 58% of DAM solutions were hosted on-site. That number is expected to flip-flop in the coming years with 58% expecting to move to a SaaS model and 28% remaining on-premise.

This large swing can be attributed to a number of factors. For starters, many smaller companies are now implementing DAM systems. In the past customers were stuck with a small number of large and expensive solutions that were not necessarily suited for the functions needed by small businesses who simply couldn’t justify the cost. To address this market, more and more vendors have developed modular SaaS offerings in recent years. This allows customers to pick only the pieces they need at that time but also grow into the solution as their needs and budgets change. This is something we at InfoTrends have noticed across the broader software market but at a slightly lower rate – only 25% by 2018 according our most recent Production Workflow Forecast.

Some other factors in the DAM market that are driving this rapid shift are the need for streamlined approval and collaborative tools. The Rights Management (controls established to prevent intellectual property from being accidentally or intentionally used without permission) process is also shortening and many speakers indicated the need for industry standards in the near future. Customers are demanding that these processes need to be accessible at all times across multiple platforms in order to cut down on traditional bottlenecks in workflow.

Concerns about security will be at the forefront for many businesses when investing in new DAM solutions, especially in a SaaS model. However brands should consider the fact that many of the assets traditionally managed by a DAM system are, by default, meant to be public facing. With the number of high profile security failures in recent history, those worried about the security of their DAM system should also thoroughly investigate and evaluate the strength of their own security protocols if using an on-premise system.

What Users Need to Know

DAM is not a software solution rather it’s a state of mind. Several speakers encouraged attendees to not jump into a DAM system without a plan. The DAM should exist to serve as the foundation for the corporation’s strategy. As Beth Goldstein of Baxter Health put it, it should be the “one source of truth” and other workflow applications should work off of it. Defining a rigid set of metadata guidelines for users in addition to managing the system are integral in a successful DAM system.

When implementing a new DAM system many speakers suggested having a “bake off” between potential vendors where a cross-functional panel of informed workers/end-users assess the solution(s) and provide practical feedback. This bottom-up approach will be highly beneficial during the initial rollout since this group can also champion the initiative and win buy-in from the various departments within the organization.

InfoTrends Opinion

It was great to see so many attendees with diverse backgrounds in both IT and marketing. The variation in roles points to the fact that those implementing this kind of solution need to take an organizational approach rather than a siloed one. It is pretty clear that the future of DAM platforms will be in the cloud. The demand for unique interfaces to address individual needs such as collaboration and integration with other workflow systems will be driving forces behind this. Moving to the SaaS model should also allow smaller companies to invest in DAM systems. Vendors who are able to address concerns with security and provide unique segmented solutions should see success in the coming years.


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