DAM Guru Members React to What’s Holding DAM Back

In a 3-part series entitled, “What’s Holding DAM Back,” DAM News contributors discuss why they think the Digital Asset Management industry has fallen into an innovation standstill in the past few years. We took the question to DAM Guru Program members, whose responses are below.


Doug Mullin:

“I think the challenges of moving from a departmental application to being an Enterprise application is holding us up, because we haven’t quite figured out how to make that leap from an organizational point of view. Who does own DAM? Shouldn’t be IT, in my opinion, although they need to be deeply involved. Marketing is a better bet, but Sales is also touched, as are other departments.”

Doug Mullin is the Digital Assets Manager for Oakley. He has been a DAM Guru Program member since 2014.


Lisa Grimm:

These are two excerpts from a longer response by Ms. Grimm. Read Lisa Grimm’s full response here.

“Jeff Lawrence’s article – customers aren’t demanding clarity, much less innovation. It’s almost depressingly common in our field to discover that the only person in an organization who truly understands how DAM works (or, perhaps, how it should work) wasn’t involved in the purchasing decision; they’ve often inherited something that wasn’t truly fit for purpose, and they don’t have the budget to do much about it. But if the customer does not budget for enhancements or new systems, vendors can’t be expected to pay particular attention; understandably, they’ve moved on to selling their existing solution to a new client. Yes, new features may roll out if a bigger client demands more attention during the implementation phase, but after that, the feedback loop goes quiet.”

“Ralph Windsor’s piece on the role of the media; his points about the truly alarming lack of metadata knowledge give one pause, and the difficulty in measuring ROI certainly takes time away from crafting the perfect taxonomy model. Some DAM vendors have clearly given careful thought to the role of taxonomy and metadata, and considered how users, both administrative and end-user, might interact with that metadata (even if they don’t know they are doing it). But that’s not true across the board, and if DAM enhancements have fallen to someone who lacks experience in that space, it’s difficult to move forward true functionality improvements, since all real DAM functionality flows from useful, well-managed, metadata.”

Lisa Grimm is the Content Librarian for GlaxoSmithKline. She has been a DAM Guru Program member since 2013.


Julie Shean:

Why do I need to invest in one of these plus so many other things?
“It takes more than a year to choose one, more than a year to implement one… Enter enterprise IT software fatigue. We have web content management systems, in the museum world we also have collections management systems, library catalog systems, constituent relationship management systems, and on and on. Oh, and then there’s Sharepoint, so how many of these are we planning on connecting the DAMS to? I’m sure you’ve noticed that many of these other systems are encroaching on your turf.”

What is it?
“I agree with David and Ralph when they point out that vendor sales teams are stretched thin trying to appeal to possible every use-case in every possible sector. Meanwhile, you might be losing touch with your core customer bases. DAMS resist being classified as online media archives or media libraries (too boring, not dynamic enough)… Too bad, personally I think digital media library sounds a lot better than “DAMS”. And if you’re honest with yourselves, the online library catalog is functionally a close analogue. It’s a back-end business system with a public access web interface– and yet many DAMS lack an easy-to-customize public portal.”

Please don’t blame your customers
“Having just put some vendors through a very long RFP process, I can sympathize with a lot of what Jeff says in his “customers” piece, but some of us have been here since the beginning (I’m on my fourth DAM software). I have to say, the constant re-positioning and Digital Marketing management suite-speak is incredibly off-putting to those of us not in that (evidently lucrative) sector. We don’t need to hire the librarians, you do. It’s all so DIY. Can I make a suggestion? Why not come up with a best practices example taxonomy and metadata fieldset for each of the market sectors you cater to? And implement it. Too much work?”

Julie Shean is the Technical Architect at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. She has been a DAM Guru Program member since 2013.


David Nguyen:

“Digital Asset Management has made few improvements in the last few years in how well it actually manages digital assets. DAM solutions all seem to suffer from a lack of vision in how digital assets will be used and how to make that process better. Businesses are hungry for systems that provide processes that solve real problems. Often features and new user interfaces only seek to solve individual problems instead of providing intuitive solutions.”

“The lack of innovation in digital asset management is due to many factors. DAM know that they had a problem but don’t know that they need a solution. DAM vendors know how to solve problems but rarely ask about what solutions are needed. The creation of digital assets themselves does not make it easy to attach the right metadata to make any solution work. Finally, education of best practices and handling assets and consistency in metadata is not provided until well after there is a problem.”

“Industry does not need more bells and whistles but instead needs to focus on producing results. In all honesty DAM software should really only be about 10% of a solution and the other 90% should be about integrating business processes that improves results.”

David Nguyen is the Digital Asset Manager (contract) at The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company. He has been a DAM Guru Program member since 2013.


Tracy Wolfe:

“In order for DAM to move forward, it must provide an imperceptible level of service, not feel like a roadblock. Simplicity, streamlining and standardization are far more important than flashy and sometimes useless features that superficially address the latest trends.”

“Every DAM needs an evangelist to get users excited about and keep them informed of the features and future possibilities of whatever DAM product they are employing and of digital asset management in general.”

“Vendors should stop grandstanding and making up silly buzzwords and devote that energy and fervor to really investigating user needs and ideas, becoming true partners.”

“I agree with something in each article of What’s Holding DAM Back – from the fact that there is no Steve Jobs of DAM, that there are people in the industry that can be trusted, and that ultimately “ the more substantial opportunity for DAM is when digital assets can be integrated with concepts like Linked Data and the Semantic Web.”

“Most importantly, DAM administrators and users should continue to take advantage of every opportunity to learn what others are doing. There are informative and high-quality conferences, blogs, discussion groups and educational opportunities available. Knowledge is power. There is strength in numbers. Choose your battles wisely.”

Tracy Wolfe is the Search Editor at Getty Images. She has been a DAM Guru Program member since 2013.

Have you read the DAM News 3-part series entitled, “What’s Holding DAM Back?” What’s your take? Share with us your thoughts in the comments.

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