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Creative Cloud: Adobe Signal Their DAM Intentions But Is It Too Little, Too Late?

by Naresh Sarwan on March 22, 2012

At the Adobe Digital Marketing Summit which is taking place currently, Adobe have demonstrated their “Creative Cloud” solution:

Adobe Creative Cloud is a creative hub where you can explore, create, publish, and share your work using Adobe Creative Suite desktop applications, Adobe Touch Apps, and services together for a complete ideation-to-publishing experience. The vision of Adobe Creative Cloud is to turn previously difficult, disparate workflows into one intuitive, natural experience, allowing you to create freely and deliver ideas on any desktop, tablet, or handheld device.” [Read More]

Unlike a number of other larger vendors who are less directly moving in on the DAM field, Adobe make specific reference to “Digital Asset Management” in their marcomms material.  Based on the multiple approaches we’ve had from their PR company to cover their releases, it’s fairly clear they have DAM in their sights as a target area (unlike our discussions of Amazon or Box who have been content to merely provide the tools and let others do it for them).  This isn’t entirely surprising, much of the media content that gets stored in DAM systems has probably passed through Adobe applications of one type or another – certainly for images or print.  It’s no shocker that Adobe see themselves as being well placed to get a slice of this action either considering they own two separate DAM vendors in the form of Scene 7 and their more recent acquisition of Day in 2010. The more perplexing question is why it took them this long to properly get round to it?

That last point indicates an interesting issue with Adobe’s involvement in DAM.  It’s probably fair to say they’ve taken a ‘wait and see’ attitude in common with other larger vendors, but, in doing so they may have waited a little too long.  The key USP Adobe have in the DAM market is their opportunity to integrate their product range, allowing end users to move media direct from their asset manipulation application to their DAM seamlessly.  It’s now more a case of whether their end users will want to remain within an exclusively Adobe environment or not, however, especially considering that they might now also use a much wider platform ecosystem that supports many other functions that Adobe cannot (which Amazon, Box, Microsoft etc can all provide either directly or via partners).

It appears (to us) that this is potentially more of a defensive move partly designed to counter some of the challenges from those DAM vendors who package a basic asset manipulation capabilities in with their offer.  When I deal with clients as part of my consulting work, one point that has proven popular with DAM end users is the inclusion of rudimentary image manipulation capabilities because they allow budget holders to reduce the spend on licences for Adobe products, especially Photoshop (and also InDesign in some cases).  Evidently, Photoshop is vastly superior in capabilities to most of the pretty basic crop/resize type tasks you can do with a DAM system that supports these capabilities, but for the majority of end users, it is ‘good enough’.  As we have discussed before, that is likely to be a key theme over the next few years and this will almost certainly result in a hit to Adobe’s licence revenue unless they have an answer to it.

Our expectation is that the clue to the outcome of Creative Cloud is in its title: it will be used as a DAM a lot by creative types who already use their other apps, but less so by everyone else.  This could be less favourable news for those DAM vendors that target the design agency/marketing comms sector but whether Adobe will break out of that silo into a wider audience remains unlikely.  They may not wish to do that anyway (as Adobe are effectively a larger niche vendor anyway these days) but it seems that unless they are able to pull this trick off, their DAM system(s) won’t have sufficient momentum to be sustainable as the single ‘go to’ platform that they need to aspire to be in order to grow and maintain long-term market share.

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