Get on the DAM Boat!

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Jun 3, 2009

Bryan Yeager and I spent Monday of this week at the Henry Stewart DAM Symposium in NYC. For those unfamiliar with the space, digital asset management (DAM) technologies are used to manage multimedia assets such as images, digital photos, audio, video, 3D renderings, and Flash-like animation. We’ll be posting video InfoCasts with vendors from the event this and next week as well as a more detailed analysis for clients.

Why should you care about DAM?

InfoTrends research in 2006 indicated that over 25% of ALL business content is in multimedia form, excluding presentation formats that often embed this media. Including this presentation content, one finds that over 1/3 of business content has a multimedia requirement! We — as well as other analyst firms — see exponential growth potential for these digital assets.

Let’s take a page from the “document” / text side of the world, and effectively manage this content before it gets out of hand.  Especially as (digital) print runs become shorter and electronic publishing turn-around requirements increase, optimizing and automating the use of digital assets in publishing workflows will become more important for controlling costs.

What are some examples of DAM applications?

DAM is a platform and repository, not an application. These platforms provide the storage and APIs (or “hooks”) for developing applications with digital asset requirements. Here are some application examples:

* Web-to-Print
* Transpromo and VDP (with multimedia)
* Single-source, multi-channel publishing
* Web site management or rich internet applications (RIAs)
* Remote proofing
* Video streaming
* e-Learning
* Multimedia-enabled IETMs
* Talent management (e.g., photography models)
* 3D applications such as package rendering
* Brand asset management

(the list goes on and on…)

Often, the most immediate requirement for organizations is centralized, consistent, and secure access to assets for use in creative or layout software (e.g., InDesign).

By standardizing on a single DAM platform, the consistency of assets can be assured across several DAM applications. Additionally, a single platform supports re-using digital asset content and metadata between these applications to enable true workflow automation/optimization. That said, most organizations today take a siloed approach to managing their digital assets. (As a result, one also finds that several vendors may mention the same [often notable] customer as a “Success Story.”)

Who are some of the vendors in the DAM market?

Over the past several years, a few notable vendors have been acquired and ingested — although not always digested — by larger Enterprise Content Management (ECM) vendors. Open Text’s Artesia brand and Autonomy-Interwoven’s MediaBin-Virage are examples. EMC also has DAM capabilities as part of the Documentum platform, as do IBM-FileNet and Oracle. Increasingly, these vendors are finding extra-divisional opportunities for DAM, and Open Text’s re-branding of Artesia (and Red Dot, for that matter) under the umbrella brand is significant for this reason. 

Other vendors have emerged as dual Web content management (WCM) / DAM providers — consider NStein and Day Software, for example.

The field is much wider than this short list, though. Other vendors include the likes of Canto, Xinet, Widen, WAVE, North Plains, ADAM, dmp Flo, MediaBeacon, Kodak, ClearStory Systems (recently acquired by FeedRoom), and several others.

Although from a platform standpoint, these vendors have similar APIs for managing, transforming, and rendering digital assets; many of these vendors have niche specialties and pre-built applications as well. Print application experience, video expertise, rich internet application capabilities, and multimedia analytics are just a few differentiating capabilities. Industrial Color Software’s GlobalEDIT offering is targeted toward the creative/photography side of the market with an uber-fast transfer mechanism and an impressive user interface.

What are some trends in the DAM market today?

As other firms have also noted, the move to Adobe Flex-based applications is quickly gaining ground. Although there are certainly limitations to this (or any) platform, exhibitors at Henry Stewart this year indicated that user-friendly interfaces and portability across operating systems are major factors for this trend. Open Text’s acquisition of Vizible notably makes several new, exciting interface opportunities possible as well. Chuckwalla and Mediabeacon, in turn, have also “modernized” their interfaces this year.

Video and 3D rendering capabilities continue to develop, as do analytics of rich-media itself. Vignette, should its acquisition by Open Text go through, could provide additional DAM capabilities in rich-media to the ECM vendor, including some interesting video analytics from the Vidavee acquisition last year.

Finally, we see a lot of traction between management of digital assets in context of marketing campaigns. Kodak’s partnership with Marketing Campaign Management (MCM) vendor Aprimo is one example. At the show, EMC demoed a “lighter” MCM solution with SI partner FlatIrons Solutions as well.

Final Thoughts

As the explosion in digital assets continues and their use intersects with new communication channels and business processes, the need to manage these assets more judiciously will become critical. In the publishing space, the accelerating need to reduce workflow costs demands this.

Multimedia use represents a differentiating way of engaging your customers, but simultaneously, a new opportunity to accelerate business processes — from video e-learning initiatives to “visual documentation” for business-critical workflows (e.g., a picture of damage on your car for the insurance company). If you’re still not convinced, I’d pick up Bob Goldstein’s Going Visual for specific examples of how everyone from small businesses to global corporations is starting to use multimedia in new ways. Hopefully, we won’t get the chance to say “I told you so.”

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