Recently I was talking with an IT executive who was explaining to me a very complex diagram containing lots of boxes that summed up the companies system architecture. I immediately spotted a glaring omission in the diagram, in that DAM was missing from it completely.
I pointed this out to him and he looked at me with confidence saying the following fateful words, “we don’t need a DAM as we can have that capability in our new PIM (product information management) tool, it has a DAM module in it”.
My heart sank at the words, ‘it has a DAM module’, as it appears recently this terminology has appeared with alarming frequency at vendor demos or in IT team talks. And I have to wonder why anyone thinks this is a good idea.
In the business world where money is tight and systems are expensive one has to ask, if you have the money to buy only one system, a PIM or a DAM, then which would you choose? A PIM that can do DAM, or a DAM that might do some of the functionality of a PIM? And I find the answer lies within tangible and intangible benefits. It seems it is much easier to put a figure next to the value a PIM brings to the company, it directly contributes to the revenue stream. However with DAM its much more difficult to give hard numbers to the benefits it gives; the man hours saved finding things, the cost saving in reducing duplication and recreation of existing assets, the storage costs in centrally storing assets, the ease of sharing content throughout the business. How do you put a pound or dollar sign against that?
Back to our beloved IT exec. I questioned further on the reasoning behind no DAM and found that it was all down to a lack of education and good selling by the vendor. With a PIM, or even a CMS, the clue is in the name. They manage a certain set of assets and the workflow those assets need to go through. However what about the rest of the business that is not product focused? What about the HR department producing assets for posters or communications within a company? How about the UX department who are producing audio and video as part of their research? What about content marketing and the press and pr teams all producing campaigns to drive people to the product? Are those teams expected to stick their assets on an unmanaged server and spend hours looking for them and the pain of not being able to share easily?
All companies run the risk of this tunnel vision when it comes to DAM, especially if vendors who are not traditionally experts in DAM are just bolting on a vanilla module into their larger monolithic offering which will perhaps not be suitable for the business as a whole. Then are traditional DAM vendors who have always offered pure play DAMs now feeling like they need to bolt on more and more modules that are not DAM specific in order to compete. All of this then dilutes the value of a DAM and we end up back in the dark ages where companies feel they don’t need a DAM and therefore don’t need a DAM specialist team.
But we do need DAM specialists. We do need people who can take the intangible and make it into hard facts and numbers. We need the ones who can educate the C level within a company and push back on vendors who are offering lazy solutions just to get more and more of their systems into a companies architecture. The reality is that yes, having a DAM will cost money, but not having one will cost more.
So where did we leave our IT exec. He listened, he allowed himself to be educated, and now they have a DAM. To quote Galaxy Quest, ‘never give up, never surrender’.