Are DAM vendors really innovating by selling Product Content Management?

The short answer is, no.

Technology vendors like to use the words “innovative” and “unique value proposition” when in reality, what they are offering is a generic product with very little differentiation vs. their competitors.

The Holy Grail Challenge

Lately it’s struck me that all the new features I see from DAM vendors aren’t really innovations at all. They’re more opportunistic, exploiting immediate needs and circumstances without reference to a broader, more strategic plan. Even when you see reference to a broader plan, it typically just entails a laundry list of related marketing services that the vendor doesn't offer.

That broader world beyond DAM is the “holy grail” challenge of strategic and personalized digital marketing: where customer data, digital assets, product data, and environmental factors come together to magically deliver the right marketing package at the right time, resulting in action on the part of the customer (ideally, a purchase).

We’re currently working with several of our subscribers to strategically plan how these disparate systems and data might optimally interoperate. To be sure, this is one of the biggest challenges we all face as content and marketing technologists in the decade to come.

PCM As An Add-On

The most recent opportunistic feature from DAM vendors is PCM, or Product Content Management. As the line between asset data and product data has increasingly blurred, vendors such as ADAM, celum, WAVE, and Bynder have all come to offer their own flavor of PCM. Other vendors, such as Chuckwalla, sell a PIM connector, which pulls content from a commercial PIM into the DAM. In the Web Content Management world, CoreMedia has a similar component.

Because it’s inevitable that companies will want to manage product data and digital assets in tandem, or manage asset workflows based on product data, these components have been introduced to allow for the scheduled delivery of assets and consumer-facing product data to users and systems that need to consume that information.

Note however that PCM components offered by DAM vendors are mostly just pulling and pushing data. Unlike PIM (product information management) and PLM (product lifecycle management), these modules will not manage your regulatory approvals or product development lifecycle. PCM is just a logical extension of the DAM metadata schema, something necessary for DAM to remain relevant and useful in the much grander digital marketing lifecycle.

Of course for you, the DAM manager or marketer trying to solve everyday creative and marketing workflow challenges, such “I need them now” features are often quite welcome. The complication is when they’re priced as separate components, touted as “innovative,” and then you are expected to shell out another $50k for such “future proofing.” Be cautious here, as often these components are high in price, but low in functionality.

Innovation Lite

In the bigger industry picture, what this really means is that DAM “innovation” (such as it is) is being driven by incremental improvements on existing use-cases, rather than offering major new solutions for digital marketers.

I find this a bit dismaying for the industry, but by the same token, it serves as a reminder that you should be pushing your vendors on their roadmaps, or they will continue to think small...

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