Reasons To Avoid Digital Asset Management Systems

David Diamond, author of the DAM Survival Guide, Marketing Director at Picture Park and contributor to DAM News has written an article for CMSWire, provocatively titled: 5 Good Reasons to Avoid DAM Software.  The item is partly tongue-in-cheek and uses a mix of Luddite arguments and deliberate reduction of DAM to its file storage basics (see the Google Drive point).  The areas covered are:

  • DAM Software is unnecessary
  • It is too expensive
  • Digital Asset Management systems are too complicated
  • We don’t have anyone to manage a DAM
  • Dropbox and Google Drive will replace DAM

This from the fourth point:

If you don’t have someone who will “own” the DAM at your organization, then stop your DAM software purchase process right now. It makes no difference whether a DAM is located in your server room or in the Cloud, someone needs to manage it. Someone needs to be its advocate, too, because there will be plenty of critics. More importantly, someone needs to be the militant visionary willing to bitch-slap your DAM vendor into fixing what’s wrong and doing what’s right. Without an owner, your DAM software will rarely be used, and your DAM initiative as a whole will fail. Not having someone to own your DAM is a great reason to avoid having a DAM.” [Read More]

I’ve heard many of the other arguments from smaller businesses especially, but this specific objection is often raised in larger organisations also.

Usually not long after end users have come to the realisation that the shared folder and ‘drive-by’ large file upload web services won’t cut it and they need a DAM system, the next concern is who is going to administer it.  In many B2B sectors where the product or service is fairly dry (especially those that mainly obtain new business through public sector tenders and similar), the marketing department tends to be highly under-staffed.  The prospect of another job being added to employee’s daily stack of tasks isn’t appealing for many and there is scepticism about solutions that claim to be able to help, especially if you need to put in work up-front before they pay off.  At the same stroke, however, marketing people in this type of business often get proposal preparation tasks dumped on them by sales colleagues such as requests to find case studies, copies of insurance documents etc.  These are where having a self-service DAM system can help out – if those requiring the assets can be persuaded to take this task on themselves and not send in ‘research requests’ for someone else to do it for them all the time.

As with any business investment decision, some realistic ROI assessments need to be made to determine if DAM really is worthwhile.  As David’s article implies, it’s not a 100% given that buying DAM is going to result in an overall gain (especially if the implementation project is not handled skilfully).  That said, the number of digital files (not assets) that businesses will need to manage is only going up and my own personal view is that DAM systems are becoming a lot like accountancy packages – while you can manage without one using spreadsheets or handwritten ledgers etc before long you’re going to deal with the problem more comprehensively and get something that can handle the task in a scalable and flexible fashion.

If you are considering investments in DAM right now, it’s probably worth using some of David’s pseudo-arguments on a prospective supplier.  Those who know what they are doing should have good answers for all of them that directly relate to your own specific needs as an end user.

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  • Ralph, you hit the nail right on the head when you wrote, “it’s not a 100% given that buying DAM is going to result in an overall gain.” This is just a fact. In a sense, DAM software is like a gym membership: It’s gets you into the building, but it doesn’t do the heavy lifting for you.

    I was asked earlier today why I wrote this article. Being a marketing director for a DAM vendor, this person supposed that I would only say things that promoted DAM. I told her that unhappy people yell louder than happy ones. So I had no interest in trying to sell software to people who don’t need it, or who aren’t ready for it. As an industry, the more “bad” or inappropriate DAMs we sell, the less popular DAM will become.

    And let’s face it, DAM ain’t Photoshop. (Where have I heard that before?) :)

    Thank you for the wonderful (and accurate) write-up!

  • Thanks for the great article Dave. Another really good one, I must say.

    As you imply if the ROI case isn’t rock solid, there’s no point in doing DAM (or any other technology investment).

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