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One thing that DAM vendors all agree on is the fact that we work in a crowded space. The digital realm, which boasts over 5,000 vendors , many of which cross into different functionalities, is a difficult place to differentiate yourself in. DAM vendors already have a head start from most digital vendors for two reasons; first, the digital space begins with digital assets, because an asset, rather it be a photo, a video, a piece of written content or even the people who create and disseminate materials, prospects, readers, and many other examples, are what the digital world is based on, and second, because good DAM technology is second to none. Last week in New York, Henry Stewart hosted a DAM conference which boasted some of the best minds in DAM, both from vendors and buyers alike. Breakout sessions, networking time and workshops provided an insight into DAM that, due to intensity and compactness of the event, was rather overwhelming. A couple of days removed I’m able to gather my notes and my thoughts and share a few of many takeaways from an amazing event.
IT vs Marketing
The question of which department owns the technology allowed for several spirited debates. Most people agree that the technology is vital to an organization, but which department actually does the legwork? Marketing tends to get frustrated with the meticulous and therefore slow nature of IT because marketers fall behind if they sleep in too late, let alone not have the best technology. While IT is frustrated with marketing for implementing the latest and greatest technology to not only have it go obsolete in five minutes but also work around security concerns. The key to this problem is to have IT and marketing work together to make sure that the security needs of the company are being met and that marketing is able to stay relevant.
Single Source Solutions?
How many solutions are too many? One thing software buyers are certain of is that that they are in need of a robust digital platform that does much more than just store assets. The best way of devising such a strategy is up for debate though. While cross functionality is essential to be a player in the DAM space it’s rare to find a vendor who does several things well. As a result, often several vendors are sought that can integrate with one another. At the end of the day the functionality will be the same, but is the extra effort worth it?
Patience, My Friend
One thing is clear, the importance of implementing a DAM system correctly is of utmost importance to most companies. I listened with great interest on how several companies went through the process of implementation. Fewer than half of the presenters had fully finished their implementation by the time of their presentation and there wasn’t a clear cut answer as to the best approach. While the basics were the same for every company, how to actually do the basics was anything but agreed on. One of the biggest challenges is getting users to buy in to the new system. From my point of view, you can buy in or find another place to work, but it seems that many people are nicer than me. The strategies to convince and train users varied widely. Metadata was another challenge . As Anthony Marshall of The Kraft Heinz Company explained most eloquently, it’s very unlikely that your data is anywhere close to being good enough to ingest into a new DAM right away, so be prepared for a bit of work. Or, in his actual words, “Your data sucks. Repeat after me, your data sucks.”
The Rise of Metadata
And speaking of metadata, it was a rather hot topic. While I never considered sitting through an hour and a half presentation on metadata, the subject proved to be most relevant and decidedly interesting. Metadata seems easy at first, it’s simply the data behind the asset. When you have thousands or hundreds of thousands of assets that have been uploaded over years with no convention, the data that defines each asset becomes quite complex. The best DAM in the world is not going to fix and organize poor metadata, that’s going to have to be a manual process that has to begin with a solid strategy. Companies at Henry Stewart ranged from using just a few bits of metadata per asset to into the hundreds. What’s important for one company is not going to be for another. What is important to everyone though is for a holistic metadata schema that is supported by technology, people and processes. Metadata is, as was explained in a session called “Metadata Matters” the foundation for your digital strategy.
Those are the key takeaways that I have from the event. I will circle back to each topic and write a more detailed analysis of each one. Being successful in such a crowded space isn’t impossible. With the right combination of unparalleled technology, industry insight and forward thinking mentality a path will continue to clear for the right technology vendors. Just don’t expect for any DAM vendors to get out of your way.
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