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DAM vs CXM: Time For New Terminology?

by Naresh Sarwan on April 19, 2012

Over on this month they are running a series of articles about Digital Asset Management.  This one was of some interest to me (after the post a few weeks ago about the lack of formalisation of the term: “Digital Asset Management”).  Anjali Yakkundi discusses why CXM (Customer Experience Management) would be a better term than DAM:

In reality, the term “Digital Asset Management” does little to describe what DAM solutions actually provide. It is both imprecise, and often misleading. A large healthcare organization Forrester recently spoke with was using a DAM solution to house mostly word documents, and housed almost no rich media content. Since vendors often have varying definitions for DAM, they sometimes sell anything and everything under the DAM moniker. The DAM term clearly hasn’t quite caught up to how DAM has evolved in the current marketplace.” [Read More]

This is a discussion article, so clearly it’s opinion based, however, I find myself agreeing with some parts but not with others.

On the latter first.  I find the term ‘Customer Experience Management’ to be even less satisfactory than Digital Asset Management as it is one of these nebulous, non-specific catch-all phrases that contributes to the needless jargon inflation that characterises the IT/tech sector.  I confess I know little about CXM, but it has the odour of something that has been manufactured deliberately to side-step a thorny problem like telling clients what you’re actually going to deliver for them by wrapping it up in something generic that can be expanded/contracted at will without losing semantic integrity.  Also, I’m not sure “Customer Experience Management” is universally applicable for the problem domain that many DAM solutions occupy.  For example, if you’re a preservation/heritage organisation with a remit to photograph and record metadata about historical artefacts in a digital form then you probably should have more than a passing interest in DAM, but would a “Customer Experience Management” solution be one you might add to your evaluation list?

I guess supporters of CXM might highlight that anyone from the hypothetical organisation I described might be better served by a preservation-specific solution; this is where I would begin to agree with select parts of the article.  It is true that the term “Digital Asset Management” has been misused many times either by buyers who don’t know what they really need, or vendors eager to transform themselves into whatever their sales prospect is telling them they need.  I would also agree that DAM is starting to become too large for a single description, I note that Anjali  refers to four example use cases, which sounds like a good summary of many corporate DAM requirements that I encounter also.

To me, however, this necessary fragmentation of the solutions to meet differing requirements suggests that rather than endeavouring to develop ever more vague and vacuous terminology (like “Customer Experience Management”) we should be encouraging industry stakeholders to define more accurately and precisely what exactly we should  expect their product or service will offer.

I acknowledge that companies need to market their products and a certain amount of ‘poetic licence’ will often be required with that activity, however, I don’t believe it does anyone in our industry sector any good to invent descriptions and acronyms which the majority of potential end users cannot easily understand either the meaning of or relevance to their circumstances.

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