In my last post, I shared seven common historical assumptions in the DAM community that are worth reevaluating as we look ahead. The first was that functional, business unit, and agency/brand/channel partner silos are just too hard to bust through, so Enterprise DAM is a hopeless idea that never has–and never will–work. This is a totally understandable point of view, gained through hard-won, Sisyphean experience. So many of us have personal war stories of working hard to gain alignment on goals, standardizing taxonomies and vocabularies of content, and doing training after training and outreach after outreach to gain adoption across organizational boundaries. Some of us–a smaller number, but many, to be sure–have stories of some successes, too. But usually these are only partial or short-lived wins, our successes arrested, watered down, or reversed by the next reorg, leadership change, acquisition or divestiture. So it's completely understandable that many have abandoned or downsized their ambitions for true, end-to-end, enterprise digital asset management.

But there are forces now helping make the imperative of silo-busting more and more critical, and more realistic as well.

The first, which has been building for the last several years, is the primacy of customer experience. We've all heard over and over that customer experience has become the most important differentiator for all kinds of businesses. McKinsey, Gartner, Forrester, and the rest of the analyst community all say it. In order to realize a vision of seamless customer experience, the whole organization has to play as a team. Every department–from creative, to marketing, sales, finance, logistics, and support–must be able to access and use consistent content.

Customer Experience is a Team Sport

The second force supporting a growing scope for DAM is the increasing emphasis on DAM use cases beyond marketing. This is highlighted by Forrester's Digital Asset Management Vendor Landscape, which includes a Venn diagram showing DAM use cases across media & production, enterprise, and marketing that they've been using for the last couple years (you can access a complimentary copy here). So the need and use cases are in place–and more crucial than ever–to support enterprise DAM. But how viable is it to actually pull off?

The good news is that the most modern and advanced DAMs on the market today allow companies to benefit from content across the enterprise – being able to search, find, work with, and publish content – without having to migrate all the content into one system. That last sentence is crucial, because it's where every historical effort has stalled.

Today, the most enlightened enterprises often start with a goal of consolidation and migration, but discover along the way that the 3, 10, or 100 different content repositories across their organization all have unique data models, integrations into specific business processes and other applications, and users invested in them, which makes actually shutting those systems down very, very, challenging. But the pain is much, much lower with a global system that lets those systems continue to run as long as the organization requires, alongside a global DAM that provides a great user experience and full access to all the content.

DAM accessing all systems

The new capabilities that make this possible are being developed primarily through APIs. APIs are the means by which different applications talk to one another, and they're pretty much like a rocket-powered unicorn that lets content jump over silos. :-)

Unicorn

This spring, ChiefMartech reported that the number of marketing technology vendors had grown to nearly 5,000 from just 150 in 2011. You can take this as a rough indication of the vastly increasing complexity of companies' marketing stacks. This means that the idea of solving your content challenges with monolithic suites is increasingly implausible.

Luckily, the availability and maturity of "unicorn" APIs across the points of integration that need to tie into DAMs is improving all the time, making it increasingly viable and indeed easy to connect all those applications together.

According to the 2017 State of API Integration Report, the number of APIs has grown 758% since 2010.

So between new DAM capabilities that make it easier to meet multiple use cases in the same system, and better and better connectivity through APIs, the enterprise DAM vision of content free of departmental constraints is finally becoming a reality.

In part 3 of this series, I'll talk about how content production is changing, with an decreasing emphasis on every piece of content being individually created and edited.

If you're enjoying this series, I’d love to chat with you about DAM trends, and what you can do about them, at the DAM LA 2017 conference in mid-November. You can register at a discounted rate by using the code URI100. I will be speaking on the panel "Tools & Solutions: How are Vendors Approaching DAM's Challenges?", as well as another talk to be announced, and I look forward to seeing you there!