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A couple of weeks ago, a representative from a DAM vendor contacted me about a DAM software review site that had requested a trial edition of their solution.  They were somewhat suspicious about the motives of the operators and shared their concerns with me.  The site appears to be French in origin.  One application which receives a glowing write-up that puts it well ahead of all the others is developed by a firm who are also French.  The vendor who emailed me originally pointed out that the whois data for the domain name reveals that both the review site and the company who develop the DAM system which get the highest rating were, in fact, the same firm (quelle surprise).  I must make it clear that none of the French vendors listed on our directory are involved with any of this.

As well as this example, I have heard reports about other DAM system review sites where the operators (while less obviously biased) are sometimes partial to weighting the prominence afforded to certain products over and above the others.  It is not unreasonable for industry sites to include commercial advertising (we do to a limited extent on DAM News, as does CMSWire and various other similar publications) but there needs to be a clear line drawn between editorial copy and advertising.

User-supplied reviews also provide an opportunity for the unscrupulous to gain an edge over their more honest competitors.  For smaller items like books, films or consumer electronics where relatively modest sums are involved, this might not be too significant.  For a big ticket purchase like DAM software, however, placing any real trust in the reliability of them could be a perilous undertaking.  Just because there are positive reviews for some products (and highly negative ones for others) does not mean they are all rigged, but distinguishing the real from the bogus might not always be straightforward.

Essentially, it is the model employed by these sites which is most deserving of criticism, rather than their attempts to apply it to DAM software.  I don’t think it is feasible to reduce DAM applications to an n out of five star rating (as many of these sites seem to) since there are just too many different variables.  What is a selling point for one organisation is the complete opposite for another.  As we announced recently, we are currently in the process of setting up a DAM News software pricing survey and based on the responses from a small sample of vendors who have agreed to review the proposed questions, there is a lot of diversity in terms of the implementation styles and delivery methods used by different providers (to the extent that the questions have needed to be revised several times).  Anyone who has had to prepare RFPs for DAM solutions will be aware that they are complex documents to author because although there are a number of common factors to most DAM solutions, vendors each address them differently and in ways that can substantially influence the final cost and ultimate value obtained.

To properly investigate most DAM solutions takes a lot of time and effort.  I would assess that one day of solid work per product is probably only just about sufficient for many solutions (with a longer period required to give the task the attention it really deserves).  Given the business models employed by many of these sites, I do not believe they can economically carry out the exercise in sufficient depth to write a satisfactory review (I notice that most also cover hundreds of different software markets, which must be to compensate for this limitation).  As a way to gather a list of possible options they may offer some potential, but don’t expect to get anything useful out of them in terms of credible product feedback and opinions as to the suitability of them for your own individual Digital Asset Management requirements.

Apart from the trust issues with some on-line sources, an opposite (but related) problem is a lack of willingness by users to share feedback in a format that is open and will persist for an indefinite period (e.g an on-line forum).  This subject was discussed last year on one of the LinkedIn DAM groups; many end users might not be willing to share less than wholly positive feedback because they usually still have to liaise with the firm who supplied the product for support etc and deal with the fall-out from any negative remarks.  I have seen a few instances where unfavourable comments about a product emerge, but only several years after the supplier has left the scene and are not involved with the organisation any longer.  An additional problem with that kind of feedback is that the vendor in question might have since become aware of the issues and fixed them in the intervening period.

Although there are various other more in-depth sources of information about DAM solutions such as analyst reports or hiring consultants to review the options for you, one low-cost and simple approach is to go and meet with some actual users of the product you are interested in and talk to them, live (i.e in the flesh) where it is a little easier for users of a product to be a little more open about their experience with it.  There are a few Meet Up groups dedicated to DAM and trade shows do have the benefit of providing a focal point for larger gatherings that will include some users (although a cost is usually involved).  I have discussed this issue with a few other people in DAM and as yet, I can’t see any practical alternative to the methods described, although I do remain open to listening to any proposed ideas.

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DAM Vendors Pricing Survey – Last Call For Participation

January 27, 2016 Industry News

DAM News is in the process of setting up a vendor pricing survey to get a better idea of the range of fees being applied for DAM software (and associated services).  We have already contacted those firms who are registered on damvendors.com and currently around 30 have expressed an interest. A detailed report using the data resulting from […]

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Enterprise Digital Asset Management In 2016

January 27, 2016 Special Features

Hassan Kotob, CEO of North Plains, has contributed a feature article for DAM News, What Does 2016 Hold For DAM?  The item is relatively short (compared to some of our feature pieces) but contains a number of well-argued points, for example: “Successful adoption of DAM requires consultancy and training, so the vendor community needs to take […]

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Social Media Sites Still Stripping Embedded Metadata

January 25, 2016 Social Media and DAM

As reported on David Riecks’ Controlled Vocabulary group (and elsewhere) the IPTC’s Embedded Metadata Manifesto Initiative has repeated a test it carried out of popular social media sites three years ago and found that many are still stripping embedded metadata from images uploaded to them.  The Social Media Sites Photo Metadata Test Results are on their website.  There is […]

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Digital Provenance Protocols And Other Emerging Blockchain Trends

January 15, 2016 Emerging DAM Technologies

As described in my Appreciating The Value Of Your Digital Assets post earlier this week, this year we’re going to be investigating far more of the metadata and infrastructure side of digital assets, because that is where I believe the more important (and therefore, interesting) activity is taking place. With that in mind, there was an article this week […]

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ADAM Update To Version 5.5

January 14, 2016 Vendors

DAM vendor, ADAM Software, have released version 5.5 of their flagship DAM solution.  Here is the obligatory press quote from their boss, Pieter Casneuf: “ADAM 5.5 is our most significant, far-reaching and game-changing software release to date.  It combines product information and rich media management to help enterprises build their brand and the digital identity […]

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Feature Article: Appreciating The Value Of Digital Assets

January 12, 2016 Opinion

To get proceedings started off for 2016 on DAM News in terms of comment and analysis, I have written an article for our features section: Appreciating The Value Of Digital Assets: Understanding The Potential Of DAM In 2016.  The item describes the current state of the DAM market (which I don’t believe is as favourable as it is often […]

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Updated Edition Of “Digital Asset Management: Content Architectures, Project Management, and Creating Order Out of Media Chaos”

January 4, 2016 Digital Asset Management Books

Elizabeth Keathley from Atlanta Metadata Authority has published a new edition of her textbook: Digital Asset Management: Content Architectures, Project Management, and Creating Order Out of Media Chaos.  In addition to over 30% of the material being re-written by Elizabeth, the update includes a preface by Henrik De Gyor and also an additional chapter on managing […]

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Balancing The Pros and Cons Of Cloud-Based DAM

December 11, 2015 Cloud Computing

Jon Hornstein, from DAM reseller, Modula4 has recently posted an article: Should Your DAM be in the Cloud? 3 Reasons Why It Should, 3 Reasons Why It Shouldn’t.  In the piece, Jon gives a balanced view of the pros and cons: “Everyone’s looking to the cloud these days, and those interested in getting a DAM (Digital […]

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Enhancing Marketing Creativity By Analysing Asset Usage Data

December 3, 2015 DAM For Marketing

Libby Maurer, product manager at Widen has contributed a feature article to DAM News: DAM Analytics: A Smarter Approach to Creative Marketing.  The item considers the benefits of using insights gleaned from usage data about digital assets.  Libby uses a few example scenarios to illustrate the thesis of her piece, which is that analytics can be used to enhance […]

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Webinar: How the Semantic Web Will Affect DAM, 9th December 2015, 10am PT

November 27, 2015 Industry News

DAM Guru Program (DGP) are hosting a webinar about DAM and The Semantic Web on 9th December at 10am PT.  The event will feature three speakers: Demian Hess (Director of DAM & Publishing Systems for Avalon Consulting), Margaret Warren (Owner of Metadata Authoring Systems) and Tim Strehle (Software Architect for Digital Collections Verlagsgesellschaft) “Join Demian, Margaret […]

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