The Future of Digital Asset Management
Due to popular demand, I’m reposting and summarizing my presentation from Henry Stewart DAM NY. Below are the slides, a recording of my presentation, and a written summary. Hope they are helpful!
To See the Future, You Have to Look to the Past
The original premise of DAM, which hasn’t changed much for many years, was that you could unlock the value of your assets by having one place to collect them, from where everyone could find, transform, and distribute them.
DAM vendors promised four benefits from doing so:
- Control over your assets so people only used the right ones.
- Consolidation and simplification of your creative process.
- Cost reduction by making it easy to find and reuse what you already have.
- Improved collaboration across the organization.
The reality of DAM hasn’t quite lived up to the promise. It looks more like the picture below, the DAM landscape for one of the top food companies in the world:
For many large organizations, the DAM universe remains a mess. Assets are everywhere, multiple systems are connected in a spaghetti diagram they can’t untangle, keeping everything running is expensive, and change is really hard.
So What Happened?
Most enterprise DAM systems on the market today were architected 10 or even 20 years ago, and solved the problems of that time well. But a lot has changed. Three key shifts are:
- The digital channels, formats, codecs, and resolutions every business needs to support have grown exponentially (and continue to do so).
- DAM isn’t just about marketing anymore. The new competitive playing field is customer experience, and it’s a team sport – from creative, to marketing, sales, finance, logistics, and support.
- The marketing technology toolbox has exploded. Just last week, Chief Martec released their 2017 marketing technology landscape that shows the number of marketing technology vendors has grown more than 30-fold since 2011, from 150 vendors to over 4,800!
Every business needs to respond to these changes, but DAM vendors haven’t kept up, leaving you with limited choices.
On the one hand, the legacy systems can’t meet today’s needs. They:
- Have poor search experiences.
- Make it really hard to add content sources or distribution points.
- Require slow and expensive implementations and upgrades.
- They aren’t designed to leverage cloud innovation.
There are some new vendors who have emerged with solid SaaS offerings that help specific departments. But these give up on the larger organization’s needs of managing complexity and the needs of different business units or functions.
The Future of DAM is about new options that aren’t as limiting as the legacy enterprise vendors and the departmental SaaS offerings.
The Future of DAM
We believe the DAM of the future must meet the following 6 principles:
- It’s feature complete – covering the full content lifecycle, on a strong foundation of security and analytics, and capable of managing any asset from any source and for any destination.
- It can manage all your assets, regardless of where they live.
- It’s cloud native and connected so it’s easy to connect with other cloud services and scale smartly.
- It’s got powerful native workflows and automation that's easy to use.
- It’s fully configurable, so it’s easy to create exactly the experience you need, without getting trapped by expensive customizations you can’t upgrade.
- It’s API-first, so it’s easy to connect to anything.
For an enterprise DAM to be considered feature complete, it must include all of these:
- Ability to manage the full content lifecycle – from ingest to tagging, search, creative, and distribution.
- Solid Foundations of military-grade permissions and security, analytics, multilingual support for metadata and the UI, editing in native applications.
- Ability to consume it your way – PaaS, SaaS, on premise, or a hybrid mix of models.
- Support for managing anything
- Any type of asset: all kinds of rich media, of course, but also PDFs, 3D models, software code, and any other assets you want to manage.
- Any source: creative departments, agencies, corporate communications, archives, packaging designs, retail collateral, signage, and more.
- Any channel: mobile apps, brand, product, or content marketing websites, mobile apps, sales and CRM systems, eCommerce, social, marketing automation and campaign systems, coupons, print publishing workflows, ads, TV, packaging manufacturing, and intranets.
The DAM of the future gives you visibility everywhere, connecting to every source of content in your organization, without disturbing what’s already working, so every departments can go on doing what they have always done — using the systems, tools, and integrations they have always used, AND gain access to assets from across the entire organization.
It’s powered by super-fast search that lets you cast a broad net, then hone in quickly on exactly what you want, without waiting for 5 or 10 seconds to get results. And it’s protected by a rich security and permissions system that ensures the right people have access to the right assets at the right time.
Third, the DAM of the future is cloud native and cloud powered, giving your business two tremendous advantages. First, you can connect to and benefit from the latest cloud innovations to accelerate your business and reduce costs. For example, if you’re tagging all your content manually, you’re limited by resources. With automatic tagging based on artificial intelligence, your content is easily labelled with keywords that extract text, emotions, landmarks, logos, and more.
Second, is the ability to scale tremendously in an efficient way. Many other systems start to fall over if you have more than a few million assets, complex metadata models, high throughput requirements backstopping mobile apps or websites, or heavy compute requirements like video transcoding.
Beyond just the raw ability to scale, it’s essential for your budget that you only scale the parts you need. For example, if you are nanaging a work-in-progress 4K video workflow, you need a lot of compute, but limited storage as assets flow out of the DAM right away. If you’ve got a huge archive but limited transformations, storage will be your top scaling priority.
Many enterprise-class DAMs provide workflow and automation capabilities today. So why is it that for many of us, the reality of working with digital content in most organizations today is very manual, through email and instant messaging. Why do many teams feel like every heroics are needed just to keep the lights on?
The truth is that the workflow tools that exist today aren't native or well-integrated to DAM systems, they’re really hard to use, and they often require a lot of customization, making changes a nightmare. As soon as you get one running, it’s out of date. The DAM of the future makes it possible – and easy – to create workflows that simplify and speed up every step of your content factory.
Even the most advanced packaged DAM products will only meet 80% of your needs. You could spend thousands – or millions – on customizations that will be hard to maintain as your business changes. We think that's unacceptable. You should be able to configure a powerful DAM in just days with no coding, and continue to adjust it to match the twists and turns of your business.
For example, your DAM should let you start with the out of the box experience, add your data model and permissions, and start working right away.
Over time, you can adjust the default workflows if you like, add some automation and autotagging, to accelerate your content lifecycle.
When you’re ready to expand, you can add content sources and distribution points like brand portals, and easily adjust the data model to accommodate that.
Inevitably, your workflows will need to change as your business does, so you can change workflows and connect enterprise systems without breaking a sweat.
The future of DAM is agile enough so that none of the decisions you make up front – on data model, on infrastructure, on user types – constrain you later, so you can take an agile approach that gets you up and running quickly and matches the twists and turns of your business.
Given the Martech explosion I mentioned earlier and the speed of change, you’ve got to choose systems that start from a position of openness, rather than adding it as an afterthought.
So don’t let yourself be wooed by particular integrations like this commerce engine or that WCM. Even if those integrations are important, you have many other important systems today that should tie to the DAM. And beyond that, consider what you may need to integrate next year and the year after that. How easily will you integrate a system that doesn’t even exist yet?
The Future of DAM at the center of a content technology ecosystem requires an API-first approach, so you can connect any service it provides to any other system – from managing data and documents to workflows, search, access controls, and distribution. You’ll know the API isn’t an afterthought if the UI is built on that API.
Almost as important as technology is a culture of openness that allows vendors, customers, integrators, and consultants to define the future together. That means vendors who provide full transparency to roadmap, source code, and documentation for everyone: customers, partners, and the public.
We believe the DAM of the future is already here, and that we’ve built it at Nuxeo. With the Nuxeo Marketing DAM Accelerator, you can bring all the benefits of the future of DAM to your organization:
- An out of the box application that’s easy to use for marketing and business users, ensuring immediate adoption and rapid time to value.
- A modern, modular enterprise platform with a comprehensive, micro-services API and limitless scalability, enabling rapid deployment and continuous innovation.
- A universal data fabric to manage all your assets regardless of where they live, so you can find and reuse assets easily without replatforming.