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No DAM Is An Island

by Charles Russell on January 16, 2018

Customer Experience and Content Strategy guru Alan J. Porter has recently published an article on CMSWire entitled ‘Don’t Dismantle Data Silos, Build Bridges’.

The analogy he weaves – of castles representing data silos and drawbridges representing integration and interoperability is not an unfamiliar one to us here at DAM News.  My co-contributor, Ralph Windsor wrote a similarly themed article ‘The Rise and Fall of the Imperial Enterprise DAM’ back in 2014.

The idea of a monolithic, one-size-fits-all, enterprise solution has often been regarded as the holy grail, yet such an approach rarely considers the organic and complex nature of the various integrated systems (including external or third-party providers) it intends to replace, and more importantly, those using them:

People often build their careers around particular systems. They develop specific areas of knowledge related to ‘their’ system and ‘their data.’ The idea of letting others into their area of expertise can be seen as threatening. It’s a world of “what ifs” — What if they (the other departments) mess up my data? What if their findings contradict my own?” [Read More]

Another recent article by my colleague discusses the blockchain as a possible solution to the challenges faced when building such monolithic systems; the decentralised nature of the blockchain, to which independent third parties can append their own data (including files if we incorporate such evolving technologies as IPFS) can act as the ideal bridge between various proprietary systems.  Crucial silos can remain, as can existing repositories and workflows – the blockchain could simply act as shim to join them all together.

The essence of Alan’s article is the shifting of focus away from the futility of developing these behemothic, indivisible systems to one of interoperability (building bridges), allowing data to flow freely between multiple dedicated systems.  He also highlights the importance of periodically evaluating existing systems to check for obsolete or redundant features:

Over a period of time we will find out which systems are really needed and which data is central to delivering the customer experience. Some of those silos will gradually fall into disuse and fade away to be replaced by true systems of record. This was bought home to me recently when a VP at a large company told the story of their digital transformation project. Midway through the project, they realized that of the 30-plus systems they had in use, only nine were vital to the process of delivering customer service.” [Read More]

In the realm of Digital Asset Management, such bridge-building has been around for a while, with many systems offering ‘connectors’ or modules which push and pull data, via various APIs and channels, between independent silos.

Alan’s article comes as a refreshing blast of pragmatism in the current sea of anti-silo sentiment; it might not be perfect, but it represents a far more realistic and navigable route to integration and interoperability than the majority of articles we’ve read on the subject.

Whilst no DAM system is an island, the idea of a monolithic strategy may represent just that, leaving it stranded and without any open channels or scope for integration with existing or external systems.  There, perhaps, be dragons.

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