On Choosing Your DAM Consultant

I’ve worked 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 Pro solutions were prevalent – as were simple catalogs with a pure, text-based slide catalogue: some keywords, a slide number, which drawer or cabinet the slides resides in.

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 microdrive – 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, twenty-two 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) per time created has exploded, mostly because the availability of devices that now can take a photo or video is now ubiquitous. <i>The Best Camera Is The One That’s With You</i> – the title of a book from Chase Jarvis, containing photos taken only with his iPhone – perfectly illustrates how prevalent cameras are today, and that’s one reason 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, retouching it, compressing the file, uploading it – that was a major project. Think before you shoot, be selective in what you scan, check what you upload.

Today, every image is synched to the cloud, apps help curate stories – a timeline of media assets made available in seconds. Mature DAM vendors have evolved their solution or suites along. Along sometimes clients they accompanied for ten or in some cases 20 years, they have stayed purpose driven. The purpose of DAM for any organisation is to create the most value of digital asset as possible 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 not single-use. 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 their product’s capabilities of their products, nor a lack of interest or budget of clients to get beyond the obvious. I offer that it’s a lack of maturity in DAM consultants.

Consultants divide mainly in two categories: The experienced old dog who use wash-rinse-repeat approaches that have been successful in their first gigs. Old dog, same trick.

The other is the fresh, domain-driven consultant that is, too often, 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, repeating a specific integration, or help their clients with a vendor selection process. When you chose a consultant, or a consultant choses you, decide wether you are perfectly clear on what your immediate goals are and what your asset roadmap is – before you decide who should help you along the way.

Kai Strieder

It’s Basic, Man!

When the time comes to select a new product – either to replace your current solution or augment your landscape to a new level – features get uttermost of attention. Every vendor knows that of course – and to dress up the bride just common sense before you go on the pitch.

And, of course, every vendor communicates the unique and revolutionary new features of their product as bold, loud and aggressively as possible… .hat’s marketing 101. In product development, this also follows a specific pattern which is described in the Kano Model.

Kano knows three classes of product features: excitement, performance and basic.

Excitement features are usually perceived as the innovation differentiator – which is not a correct attribution. As the name indicates, these features create excitement but might not be directly applicable to a practical problem domain or business challenge. However, they are shiny, new, exciting, super cool, and nobody else has them.

See, that’s the point. Some features are so cool, that nobody else will ever have them – and that’s not a problem of innovation, code quality or a “blockchain based cloud AI in the augmented reality deep learning quantum computer.”

Of course, the 2% of excitement features mature, prove useful and applicable, and will move to performance features. Performance features aren’t exciting any more – they are not unique. But they can be either fast or cheap, or have a better user interface – they differentiate one product from the other. Both have the capability – but on the same level. Excitement features are not on your requirements list, but a vendor answering your RFP will put them there.

Performance features are more likely to be on your requirements list, and that’s where you rate it with points.

What doesn’t get enough attention are basic features. It is often assumed that every solution in a specific domain has them – that’s why a product is in a specific domain. See, for example, a new phone – nobody would put the requirement “can it actually dial a phone number and connect me to any other user of a public phone system?” which may call to mind the unreliability of the first voice-over-ip phones. There’s a disclaimer stating that you might not use them for emergency calls, right? But that’s pretty basic…

In a product space, new vendors tend to give basic features or requirements less attention, and concentrate on excitement and performance features. Mature vendors are in a slightly better position. Basic features are their legacy, performance features have once been excitement features and excitement features live in the roadmap. When selecting a product, make sure that you put your shortlisted potential solution providers to a test on basic domain specific capabilities. I will continue with a drill down on basic domain specific capability sets for enterprise class DAM systems in the next days and weeks – stay tuned.

Kai Strieder

Why DAM Implementation and Run is Not a Project

John Horodyski, an Executive with Optimity Advisors, has written a thoughtful article for CMSWire on why DAM implementation and run is an ongoing process, not a project. He states cogently:

One of the most common questions I receive is how to manage a digital asset management system. This details everything from how to create the business case, to securing executive buy-in and financial support, to building the right team, deployment, roadmap and more. There is much to do, and it takes time. Many foundational layers will clamor for your attention as you prepare the roadmap of work.

More importantly, most of these structures need to be reviewed and discussed well before any technology has been purchased, let alone considered.

Technology should never lead the decision-making process for DAM demands — the business sets the foundation for the strategy first. Technology is incredibly important, and the vendor review and selection process are a critical step in all this, but that step must follow the business requirements and digital strategy. You need to know what you want to do: the purpose.

Once you know what you want to do, then everything else is spent working towards that goal because you know what you want to achieve. Never lose sight of that goal.

Well worth reading, at: https://www.cmswire.com/digital-asset-management/how-do-you-manage-your-dam/

“Navigating the DAM Divide” by Real Story Group

Way back on Oct. 29, Real Story Group, a vendor evaluations company, published an interesting article and graphic on the various DAM landscape forms, dividing vendors up into four categories;

Complex, Legacy Complex, Mid-Range and Simpler.

Real Story Group Vendor Logo Landscape

It is a useful framework for input on which DAM vendors might be most suitable for consideration in your initial DAM discovery process for your enterprise.  More at:

https://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/3287-Navigating-the-DAM-Divide

 

The Journal of Digital Media Management

Here’s a goodie you should get, by the estimable Henry Stewart Publications division:

The Journal of Digital Media Management:

The Journal of Digital Media Management is the essential peer-reviewed, professional journal for all those involved in the capture, storage and effective application of digital media assets.

Each quarterly 100-page issue publishes in-depth articles, real world case studies and reviews written by some of the leading experts in the field

OpenText Has a Good Day – Gartner, Enabler for Microsoft Dynamics 365

OpenText, the global leader in Enterprise Information Management (EIM), announced that it has been positioned as a Leader in Gartner’s 2018 Magic Quadrant for Content Services Platforms. Gartner can be pretty thorough, and their research is practical and generally available, always a good thing:

OpenText Named as a Leader in Gartner Magic Quadrant for Content Services Platforms

They also announced “the availability of OpenText Extended ECM Enabler for Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Customer Service. The new solution, developed in partnership with Contesto, integrates OpenText’s leading Enterprise Content Management (ECM) portfolio with Dynamics 365 for Customer Service to deliver a complete set of content services to enrich business processes flows, and enable seamless customer engagement,”:

https://www.newswiretoday.com/news/168349/OpenText-Announces-Extended-ECM-for-Microsoft-Dynamics-365/

Are you a DAM pro in London on Nov 27? Meetup!

London DAM Social

Tuesday, Nov 27, 2018, 6:00 PM

The Cittie of Yorke
22 High Holborn, WC1V 6BS London, GB

11 Digital Asset Managers Attending

We are holding a London DAM Social on Tuesday 27th November from 6pm onwards in the cellar bar of The Cittie of Yorke pub on High Holborn. The event is informal and will be an opportunity for newcomers and DAM veterans alike to share experiences, advice and tips about implementing Digital Asset Management initiatives (and related topics). This meet…

Check out this Meetup →

Not a sales event! Even better!

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

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.

Conferences, more research reports

Conferences:

If you want to attend a conference on Digital or Enterprise Content Management, here are the major ones coming up. Of course, this late in the yearly budget, unless you’ve planned for it, getting approval from your CFO may be tough, so make sure to plan for the May 2-3 DAM NY Conference while putting in next year’s budget! It comes from that 300-pound Gorilla* of DAM symposia, Henry Stewart Conferences, and it comes early in the year, before all the C-levels are worried about end-of-year numbers.

We search so you don’t have to:

DAM Chicago – Henry Stewart Conferences

September 12, 2018, Chicago, Illinois, USA

“As the Midwest’s largest conference dedicated to Digital Asset Management, we provide a unique environment to exchange knowledge, experiences and build long lasting professional networks. We examine through real world case studies, interactive panels, workshops, roundtables and tutorials, the latest thinking and new developments in the world of DAM – all from the user’s perspective.”

DAM San Diego – Henry Stewart Conferences

November 15-16, 2018 – San Diego, California, USA

“As the West Coast’s leading conference dedicated to Digital Asset Management, we provide a unique environment to exchange knowledge, experiences and build long lasting professional networks. We examine through real world case studies, interactive panels, workshops, roundtables and tutorials, the latest thinking and new developments in the world of DAM – all from the user’s perspective.”

CANADIAN CONTENT ASSET MANAGEMENT

November 28, 2018, Probably in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

“A group for Canadian professionals in the content management community involved in DAM, MAM, Brand, Production and Creative Asset Management, Rights Managers, MLIS and Archive professionals, and the allied business operations. Canadian Content and Asset Management (C-CAM) is dedicated to build and promote the practice of Digital Asset Management (broadly defined) across all industries in Canada. The C-CAM group offers the experienced, and the new, an opportunity to be part of a community, develop relationships and promote learning / education, as we all face the challenges of growing libraries of digital images and video assets.”

AMIA 2018 (Association of Moving Image Archivists)

November 28 – December 1, 2018

Portland… Probably Oregon. (No, really, if you poke around for a few minutes, they finally indicate which Portland on the Hilton Hotel page.) #amia18

“As the world’s largest international association of professional media archivists, the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) is uniquely poised to bring together a broad range of experts. Members represent corporate and national archives, media companies, libraries, historical societies, labs, post production, universities, and more. Because of this diverse membership, AMIA provides an opportunity to interact with every facet of the field and a single forum to address the best ways to preserve and provide access to our media heritage in digital and analog formats.

“For further information, visit www.AMIAnet.org and follow AMIA on Facebook, Twitter (@AMIAnet) and Instagram (@AMIArchivists).”

DAM NY – Henry Stewart Conferences

May 2-3, 2019

“The Art & Practice of Managing Digital Media – all from the user’s perspective.

“As the world’s largest conference dedicated to Digital Asset Management, DAM New York is a unique environment to exchange knowledge, share experiences and build long lasting professional networks. Join 100+ speakers across 60+ sessions covering Metadata, Integration, AI, Automation, Creative Operations, Corporate Archives, Video Workflow, Rights Management, Semantics, Governance and more.”

More Research and Reports:

Here are some interesting older and ewer work that seem useful to the DAM/EAM shopper:

The Forrester Wave™: Digital Asset Management For Customer Experience, Q2 2018

“In our 30-criteria evaluation of digital asset management (DAM) providers, we identified the 13 most significant ones — Adobe, Aprimo, Bynder, Canto, CELUM, Cognizant, MediaBeacon, Northplains, Nuxeo, OpenText, Stylelabs, Webdam, and Widen — and researched, analyzed, and scored them. This report shows how each provider measures up and helps application development and delivery (AD&D) professionals make the right choice.”

Market Guide for Digital Asset Management Published: 16 November 2016

“Digital asset management is undergoing a renaissance as marketing leaders face new challenges in managing the growing volume, variety and velocity of content assets. This Market Guide will help marketing leaders make sense of a very fragmented landscape.”

Representative Vendors:
Adam Software, Adobe, Brandmuscle, Bynder, Canto, Celum, censhare, Digizuite, Elateral, MediaValet, North Plains, OpenText, Percolate, Pica9, SAS, WebDAM, Wedia, Widen, Workfront

Digital Asset Management – Research, Decision Tools, & Custom Advice

“Digital Asset Management Research, Decision Tools, & Custom Advice

  • Learn how much these tools really cost
  • Learn how to negotiate a better deal
  • Learn about hidden costs and gotchas”

* Fun fact: Adult male Gorillas weigh from 136 to 195 kg (300 to 430 pounds). Adult females Gorillas weigh from 68 to 113 kg (150 to 250 pounds).