Should you use Adobe Experience Manager for DAM?

It’s a tale that’s as familiar in Digital & Marketing Asset Management as it is in politics these days — people sometimes get unwelcome things forced upon them. Instead of being able to make a decision on a candidate you can really stand behind, you are forced to stick with what the party establishment chose for you, even if you know it’s not the best choice for your enterprise. 

We often get contact by subscribers who lament, “I inherited this product when I came on board, and management is making me stick with it."  Or: "This product is being used by the web team, so I’m expected to use the DAM from the same vendor.” This complaint is most common with companies for whom OpenText and Adobe are incumbent vendors.

Not all incumbent vendor decisions are the same

But there’s a key difference with these two vendors. OpenText’s menu of WCM and DAM products were a series of acquisitions, and the multiple products in both categories remain distinct or are riding into the sunset, despite their being sold as a Customer Experience “suite”. Adobe, on the other hand, acquired their sole DAM product as an appendage to Day Software’s CQ / Communiqué, a WCM system which the company bought in 2010. Though Day said CQ included a DAM at the time, we considered it "DAM Lite" -- not a fully-featured DAM by our standards.

Early troubles with AEM Assets

For early adopters of AEM Assets, it became clear to DAM managers who inherited it that the system wasn’t a DAM at its core. Adobe marketed a DAM before it had evolved it into a fully functioning DAM.

In several customer interviews, DAM managers said, “Adobe doesn’t even really understand DAM,” and one organization we spoke with spent nearly $400,000 in custom development work to add proper metadata management, hot-folder functionality, transformation, proper thumbnailing, and to tune the search so the recall wasn’t so high. “All I had were traditional DAM needs, so AEM was useless for me — an uphill battle,” groaned one customer.

Adobe spent 2015 into early 2016 attempting to bridge these painful gaps, and with the release of Assets 6.2, we can safely say Adobe AEM Assets is finally a fully fledged DAM. But that doesn’t mean it should be your default choice if you’re already using Adobe products elsewhere in your company.

What’s the case against Adobe DAM?

Adobe can tell you up and down why they have such a great DAM. Here's a sampling of the counterarguments we make in our comparative DAM vendor reviews:

  • While Adobe now has more DAM focus, DAM is still an appendage — not the heart — of its marketing product suite. 
  • It’s comparatively expensive vs. other DAM products with similar capabilities (unless you're buying the whole Adobe Marketing Suite, which you may not need)
  • Though you could in theory buy AEM Assets on its own, no one does -- it doesn’t lend itself to running independently 
  • Adobe’s presence is global, but AEM Assets expertise outside of Europe is still thin, and implementers tend to be more conversant in AEM Sites than in Assets
  • Ironically, the product’s Creative Suite and Cloud integrations are relatively recent; buying your DAM from Adobe doesn’t ensure better experience. If you’re creating print assets, there are DAM vendors who’ve been offering CS connectors far longer, and who do it better
  • It’s comparatively weak in video management of any kind

I’m really just scratching the surface here. RSG's evaluation research and decision tools contain over 50 pages of research on AEM and the Adobe marketing suite, as well as a 10-page detailed review of AEM Assets. If you’re a DAM or marketing manager and aren’t being allowed a choice, let us help you make a case.


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