Zombie DAM Vendors Lying In Packs

My co-contributor has dealt more than I have with the subject of DAM ROI illustrations that sections of the industry insist on pedalling to end-users.  When vendors reach a certain size, they get new marketing people involved who (unless they are from a DAM background) often don’t understand the issues of this market and want to use off-the-peg techniques which appeared to work successfully for their other employers, clients etc.  They convince them that producing these infographics is a great idea.  Well, I’m going to tell you – it isn’t.

The latest to try their hand at this marketing conjuring trick are UK based Asset Bank (aka Bright Interactive)

The infographic also looks at how DAM software can save your company time, and how to calculate the ROI on time saved for small, medium and large businesses. For example, a medium-sized business with 15 staff members involved in manual processes could save 3,000 hours per year, resulting in a saving of £50,000 per year. This translates into a £7 return on investment for every £1 spent on digital asset management software.” [Read More]

As we have pointed out, the ROI fiction starts with the dubious nature of the calculations.  Here are a few:

  • Staff involved in DAM: 5 (small) 15 (medium) and 30 (large).
  • Annual hours saved by the introduction of DAM: 1000, 3000, 6000.
  • Annual value of the hours saved*: 17,000, 50,000, 100,000.
  • Annual investment in DAM: 4,000, 7,000, 12,000.

* The ‘value’ is quoted in GB pounds since Bright are a British firm.

You can read the ROI numbers on the graphic, but my co-contributors description of these as being like a ‘Ponzi Scheme’ is valid here also.

How exactly is 1000 hours saved?  Based on what?  How have those very neat round number been discovered?  Where is the proof?  The hourly rate per employee is £17 (GBP) and is identical without variations for each business – which is obviously completely unrealistic.  The investment in DAM coincidentally happens to the cost of Asset Bank for one of those three model packages (if such a thing exists).

When end users read these, one of two things happen.  Either they are a more experienced manager, have seen many of these illustrations before and just ignore them, or those who really do believe them use the numbers for internal ROI justifications.  If/when they don’t deliver, the DAM implementation gets deemed either a failure or not as effective as it was billed to be.  The result is damaged reputation for the vendor involved and the wider DAM market by degrees also.

The vendors who use these marketing tactics all seem to copy each other in a ‘zombie’ like fashion.  A few months ago, Infosys produced a similar ROI inforgraphic.  They at least made a vague attempt to justify the numbers using figures from analysts (which we at DAM News don’t believe either).  Producing these made up graphics is a waste of time; it makes those involved look like either fools or knaves.

A far better approach is to write some believable and useful information that tells your target users how to get the most from DAM.  As most vendors must be painfully aware, dealing with failed implementations is a highly unpleasant experience.  For their own sanity (as well as their bottom line) they would be better ensuring that did not happen by educating their existing and prospective users to ensure they have realistic expectations.

Unfortunately, this last few weeks has already seen a number of DAM vendors doing themselves no favours with overblown marketing puffery and unsubstantiated claims about their products.  We have found it necessary to have a private conversation with several different firms on our DAM Vendors site for the following reasons:

  • Asserted user volumes or claims of downloads etc without any proof to back it up.
  • Proprietary vendors wanting to state they offer open source products simply because they use some open source tools.
  • Copyright infringement where the vendor has used graphics and/or copy which they have blatantly stolen from elsewhere – including DAM News in one case.
  • Invalid technical claims about support for technologies such as databases, search tools or architecture.
  • Feature options they have ticked but clearly do not yet possess (along with the “it’s coming in the next version” excuse)
  • Agencies wanting to pass off open source DAM solutions as their own (then arguing that because they have modified the logo their product is unique)

Vendors: be aware that anything you claim, whether invented ROI justifications or disingenuous assertions about your product stands a high likelihood of being called to account, if not here by DAM News, at the hand of your own prospective and existing clients.  You place at risk the integrity and plausibility which is most likely to secure you business now and in the future.  Most DAM vendors are not large firms, their integrity is one of the few differentiators that prospective customers will actively seek out.  It’s very easy to take it for granted and very difficult to win it back once lost.

For prospective end users reading this, the advice is self-evident, do not take anything proposed by the vendor solely on trust.  Check all the details and ask for proof of anything claimed – anyone who has nothing to hide will have few problems getting you the answers you require.  Do not accept fudged or evasive responses, when assessing products or companies, you need clear facts which can be fully supported with either demonstrations or detailed documentation and never accept anything less.

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  • I love this article like it was my child. I was recently ask why I “bother” with Digital Asset Management. It was suggested to me that I take a job directing marketing at a marketing automation or CRM vendor. You know, “something with a future.”

    My reply was simply that DAM is what I know.

    I immediately recognized the absurdity of my response. After all, if a marketing professional can go from selling soft drinks to running a computer company, why couldn’t I just start selling something else too?

    But the fact is that I feel like I need to actually know what I’m talking about before I start talking about it. Particularly when I’m “talking” to a market full of people who are genuinely looking for some help and guidance. But as Naresh has pointed out in this article (that I love like a child), most marketers don’t feel this way. Perhaps “once you know the proven marketing basics that everyone uses, you can sell anything” is something they teach in marketing school. I never went to marketing school, so maybe that’s why I don’t get it.

    But what I do get is that by kicking the DAM industry in the gut each time we do or say something stupid, the DAM News team forces us to do better. They might also force a few of us marketroids out of the business entirely, which is also fine by me.

    I believe that if you *can* do better, you *will* to better. So, to marketing professionals that think they can get by on downloading a copy of DAM Survival Guide and spending a weekend (or less) figuring out how it all works, I say this:

    Please go away. Some of us are trying to build an industry here and you’re making it much more difficult than it needs to be.

    David Diamond
    Director of Global Marketing
    Picturepark DAM

  • Not a bad article at all there Naresh, you’re really getting the hang of this writing game now ;-) [/private joke]

    Just one point to make clear, the “Ponzi Scheme” reference was in regard to Ed Smith’s article for DAM Coalition and I don’t know if the same can be read across to this item. I haven’t checked the Asset Bank illustration, although from a cursory glance, I might not be comfortable betting my house on their ROI figures either.

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