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CXM – The Future Of DAM Or Another Jargon Dustbin To Dump End User Requirements Into?

by Naresh Sarwan on May 11, 2012

Anjali Yakkundi, writing a guest post for Stephen Powers’ Forrester blog discusses the increasing role of CXM in DAM:

DAM is moving away from traditional ECM towards CXM. DAM has long been thought of as a niche component of ECM suites that supports heavy production-oriented needs. However, as DAM breaks out of its niche status, it is also breaking away from traditional ECM concerns. The profile of new DAM buyers is different than the profile of traditional ECM suite buyers. The DAM buyers we speak with are rarely also ECM buyers, because the fastest growing DAM use cases are those that support online rich media content and cross-channel rich media marketing content. Therefore, DAM buyers tend to be marketing departments or IT groups specifically supporting marketing teams instead of traditional IT departments. As this shift occurs, DAM is moving away from its ECM past into a CXM future.” [Read More]

I can’t say I’m over-impressed by the increasing use of the ‘Customer Experience Management’ term, despite its nascent popularity amongst the analyst community – many of whom seem to prefer to stay as far away as possible from anything ‘hands dirty’ when it comes to actual implementation (although, to be fair to Forrester, I do not know the individual backgrounds of any of the people in their Content & Collaboration practise to say whether this applies or not in their case).

As I have discussed before, CXM has all the hallmarks of a vacuous and nebulous classification, into which vendors, analysts and anyone on the sell-side of DAM (plus WCM, MRM etc) can drop in anything they think sounds plausible to deflect the need to explain in concrete terms exactly what an end user will get for their money.

I would agree with parts of the the premise of the quote given above: DAM is generally moving away from being part of a wider ECM purchase (although that is far from clear cut as I will discuss).  As little as few years ago, IT managers in particular were keen to avoid the need to budget for a separate DAM on the basis that something like Documentum (or SharePoint more recently) ‘supports uploading photos, so what else do we need’?  Fortunately, those days are mostly over and corporate users understand that they need to manage their rich media assets in a more specialised manner, which implies a dedicated DAM strategy, even if not necessarily a DAM system.

I’m not sure it is all going to CXM instead now though.  The Digital Asset Management market is fragmenting because in itself it is too diverse and all encompassing for everything to be able to handle the multiplying range of end user needs.  In some instances, it is actually getting closer to ECM at the same time as being drawn away.  To illustrate this, look at the number of DAM vendors who have Sharepoint connectors.  However, for contrary evidence, observe those ECM vendors who offer dedicated DAM solution, presumably because an ECM über-system doesn’t help them deal with the more specialised requirements of marketing department and others in organisations who have to deal with rich media.

This seems to simultaneously suggest that the affinity with ECM is both rising and falling – you need it in your ECM but outside too; ‘the same, but different’ to quote that famous phrase technology folks will often hear when talking to end users.

There is no properly definable trend regarding DAM’s relationship with ECM (or CXM by implication) that can be extrapolated.  I think the premise of the thinking behind this is wrong.  There is an implicit assumption that DAM is still some composite technology that must be an indentation under another heading.  That might help analysts to organise their practise into neat divisions to help them sell consulting services and reports, but many of the problems in this market over the years I have been involved in it relate to stakeholders trying to bundle the problems into some non-specific technology strategy rather than dealing with them on a case by case basis.  Replacing ECM with CXM won’t help avoid those, it will just swap one set of issues with another.

The definition of DAM is already stretched to breaking point and bolting it on to something else that appears to lack precision or clarity will soon become ineffective  when users need to work out exactly how to derive a strategy for managing their digital media that allow is to be used across multiple points of interaction.  I believe DAM is in the process of fragmentation into specialised sub-divisions: the two biggest are what one might refer to as the interface (front-end) and the infrastructure (back-end).  I don’t believe there is a single vendor that can now properly cover all these bases, as evidenced by two of the bigger ones (ADAM and OpenText) buying into a third party technology to deliver a front-end requirements they both knew they would not be able to economically reproduce in-house.

It’s my contention that CXM is a ‘dustbin’ concept and end users would do better to not try to place their DAM strategies inside it nor should vendors waste time by getting distracted by it as compared with the multitude of problems that end users already have with existing DAM solutions.  The DAM market seems likely to  grow exponentially as people aren’t going to stop producing digital media any time soon and DAM itself will become too big on its own to sustain a single definition before one has even begun to try to shoehorn it into something else (whether you agree with my analysis of CXM or not).

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Ralph Windsor May 12, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Naresh, I think you’ve taken a sledgehammer to this argument, whereas a pair of sensible shoes might have been more suitable. I can agree with both your perspective and the Forrester one, here’s why:

I’d agree that CXM is probably another one of these jargon expressions that doesn’t bear up to much intellectual scrutiny, but I can see how it has come about. From my limited understanding of the term, it’s an attempt to move on from the train wreck that CRM implementations have turned into. I suspect that CXM “über-systems” (as you describe them) are doomed to suffer the same fate because like CRM, the scope is too wide for a clear range of objectives to be defined, implemented and tested.

Having said that, I can see the need for a CXM strategy and also the decision to procure and implement systems like DAM or WCM etc has to fit into that (as well as all the day-to-day operational stuff like people not being able to find media they need to use for marcomms campaigns etc). As you have said yourself quite a few times, there is a degree of convergence between DAM and WCM going on right now – and CXM strategies are helping to drive that trend.

You make the distinction between the front and back-end elements of DAM and highlight how these are fragmenting the DAM market. I would agree with that analysis too. I think the front end element of DAM (and possibly what the folks from Forrester are referring to) is maybe moving towards CXM because of this strategic focus.

If you’re working on DAM systems with end users like marketing departments, they tend not to care too much about the back-end, that’s a maintenance feature that they only notice when the system doesn’t work properly. I note the reference to the increased interest in DAM from those type of users referred to in the Forrester article, which certainly concurs with my experience.

Based on your previous posts, I think you’re actually in agreement with Forrester if your proposition that the DAM market is fragmenting is an accurate one (which I believe it is). Those DAM solutions that are focussed on usability, interfaces and generally providing people with functionality that end users will see and touch will gravitate towards CXM. For the more platform/integration back-end of the market, however, it doesn’t really mean very much and will have limited impact upon them, apart from maybe guiding the development priorities in terms of utility functionality like asset manipulation capabilities.

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