On Choosing a DAM Consultant

by Kai Strieder

I’ve been working in the DAM space since around 1996 – long before the term DAM or even MAM was coined. I loved and still love to help clients to make a sense of the technical, organisational and legal challenges of handling media assets, creating value and ensuring that content, stories, emotions can be shared, communicated, and set in place.

DAM has come a long way – databases for media content have started as pure systems for media companies.

News, agencies, editors, the occasional photographer. At that time even FileMaker solutions were prevalent – as were simple catalogs with a pure text-based slide catalogue: some keywords, a slide number, the drawer or cabinet where the slide resides.

What part of DAM – Digital Asset Management has come a long way?

Digital Media has come a long way. Remember drum scanners? Slide scanners? Waiting up to 90 seconds for a slide to scan in a Nikon desktop slide scanner with automatic feed? Remember the batch of 50 files named up to “Unnamed File (#49)”?
Remember the first digital SLR being a really big deal? The IBM micro-drive — a thick CF card with a spinning hard drive inside it? (I still have the 1 Gig version sitting on my desk).

Digital media has evolved in a infuriating speed: 22 years where resolutions have exponentially grown on a regular basis. Doubling the resolution of a screen, CMOS or CCD sensor isn’t even big news now.

How has the management part evolved?

The output of assets — files — over enormously over time, mostly because the availability of devices that now can take a photo or video is now ubiquitous. “The Best Camera Is The One That’s With You” is the title of a book from Chase Jarvis, containing photos taken only with his iPhone. It perfectly illustrates how prevalent today cameras are and that’s one of the points why the amount of “available media” has skyrocketed.

Available media – photos, videos, audio recordings that can be shared, referenced, used, curated – that is why the Management in DAM is really challenged. Making media available was a significant effort 10 years ago. You chose which photos to upload into a dedicated database, creating a scan, retouched it, compressing the file, uploaded it – that was a major project. Think before you shoot, be selective in what you scan, check what you upload.

Today, every shot is synched into the cloud, apps help to curate stories – a timeline of media assets made available in seconds.

Mature DAM vendors have evolved their solution or suites along. Alongside clients they accompanied for ten or even 20 years, they have stayed focused. The purpose of DAM for any organisation is to create the most value from a digital asset and then stay out of the way.

While individual users might argue that an approval process isn’t exactly “staying out of the way” – for the organisation it is a necessity to ensure that value is sustainable.

Same goes for tediously crafted mandatory metadata, where on might argue that’s way over the top for just the web page illustration. Again, the purpose is to create most value over the lifetime of the asset and reduce single-use cases. These DAM solutions have matured to a point where sharing, enabling, integrating, fitting, transcoding, have evolved up to the point where a DAM itself provides CDN capabilities.

So is it all ponies and rainbows now?

Unfortunately, in a lot of conversations with enterprise clients, I have learned that there is a huge maturity gap. And it’s neither the vault of vendors and the capabilities of their products, nor a lack of interest (read: budget) of clients to get beyond the obvious.

It’s a lack of maturity in DAM consultants.

DAM Consultants can mostly be divided into two categories:

The experienced old dogs whose rinse-repeat approaches that have been successful the first gigs. Old dogs, new tricks – you get the point.

The fresh domain-driven consultants that usually are coming to DAM from an adjacent angle, be it SEO, product and e-commerce, social media, apps — and are more or less ignorant to the whole rest of the DAM potential or the value cycle of a digital asset.

Both types are either implementation-driven (read: rinse-and-repeat a specific integration), or vendor-selection process, helping their clients navigate the path to the best tool.

When you chose a consultant, or a consultant choses you, decide wether you are perfectly clear on what your immediate goals and criteria for success are, and what your asset roadmap is – before you decide who should help you along the way.

Kai Strieder

Articles on Widen sunsetting Orbit – why no migration path from ‘DAMLite’?

Digital Asset News has a good article on Widen Collectives Sunsetting their free DAM solution, SmartImage, which serves the “free” DAM Market – free not considering adoption, development, training, implementation, training, and other corporate adoption costs.

Personally, I feel a vendor might be better off developing a free or open source DAM “lite” system that offers an easy migration path, and a usefully similar UI, with basic functionality. I thought that was kind of the purpose of such an acquisition. DAM News wisely cites Bynder’s closure of Orbit, equally ill-considered, IMHO.

Bynder cites  “focus,” which they say is a good thing, but things take time to come into focus, and a good free solution that is similar or offers a relatively smooth migration path to your product allows the kid of test bed that can be idea for small-to-medium-sized companies considering and cutting their teeth on DAM, arguably their largest market. Yes, it would cost money and time, but it could also provide a feature test-bed, be monitored for user-interface improvements using things like Clicktale’s UI monitoring tools that track mouse movements and interface confusion without freaking out the paying customer base. Short-sighted, short-term profit focused, I’d think as an IT buyer of expensive systems.

Widen Close SmartImage: More Proof That The Current DAM Software Market Does Not Scale

Sunday DAM Update, Sept. 30, 2018: C-CAM on metadata, DAM San Diego Discount

This seems like an interesting learning Webinar:

C-CAM Webinar Series
MOST COMMON MISTAKES WHEN DESIGNING METADATA SCHEMAS
Wednesday, October 10, 2018
1:00 pm to 2:00 pm EST

Also of note: Sign up now for a $100 discount to…

Henry Stewart Team’s DAM San Diego 2018 – Agenda Announced
Nov 15-16, 2018
Don’t miss the Early Bird Discount at this link.
Bookings made by Friday October 5 save $100.

 

DAM/EAM News Summary, September 18, 2018

Widen Collective

The Widen Collective’s blog site, https://digitalassetmanagement.com has a decent article on “What to look for in a DAM/EAM Administrator“. Nothing shocking, but well thought-out and a good baseline for a job description for your Execs and HR department.

They also released a downloadable paper called “Understanding RFIs and RFPs” (PDF) which has a good template/baseline of FRP questions (Registration required). It is not actually quite so much about understanding RFIs and RFPs, but one does come to an understanding of them based on the categories and excellent questions under each, including some clever ones you might not have thought of

They are experienced enough to factually point out that “[t]he most helpful DAM system evaluation tools are a good internal assessment, development of user scenarios, and a prioritized list of requirements from a DAM system.” This is the hardest work that goes into giving your DAM/EAM project, vendor and team the best chance of success, and that’s all on you and your teammates… or, probably, available for a price. There’s an argument to be made that a potential vendor has more experience building these with the energetic participation of your company, if that’s part of what you need. But, you will have to pay for their time, and it may not help you as much with an RFP that goes to several vendors.

PicturePark

Like Widen, PicturePark has a community service, a bit different, called the DAM Guru Project, “A DAM Community of 1,000+ Members from Around the World: DAM Guru Program connects DAM experts with people who need their help – for free” Their Twitter account is here.

Their site has calls for volunteers, a job registration database and member profiles, some thoughtful articles specific to our industry, webinars, and a related LinkedIn discussion group.

There is apparently a blizzard of market analysis reports, which you can get weekly via Google Alerts for ‘Digital Asset Management’ and ‘Enterprise Asset Management’, which you likely have already set up.

This week in Digital Asset Management — Wed. September 12

Among Digital Assets, documents count. DM Magazine has awards-voting out, where you can vote for Doc Management solutions: DM Magazine Doc Management Awards voting

Here is the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management.

In an update released by DALIM, they state: DALIM SOFTWARE Takes an Active Role as a Primary Sponsor at the Henry Stewart DAM Chicago 2018

And a different version of a GLOBAL DIGITAL ASSET MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE MARKET BY MANUFACTURERS, REGIONS, TYPES AND APPLICATIONS, FORECAST TO 2025