Where DAM vendors still fail in enterprise readiness

Every vendor likes to say they sell "enterprise-ready" technology, which -- when uttered by a vendor product marketing or salesperson -- is of course pretty much meaningless.

What about that Big Recognizable Corporate Logo up on the screen to demonstrate major enterprise experience, while buzzwords drip from the salesguy's mouth? Rest assured, almost every DAM vendor can post a Fortune 50 logo. Even though they only support one small department with a few thousand assets in a giant company, it gives them the apparent right to say they sell an "enterprise" system.

Don't Let Yourself Be Fooled

We've written before about scalability challenges in DAM implementations, and how factors such as concurrent users, number of assets, bulk tagging and editing, and the heavy lifting of simultaneous transformations and transcoding are big differentiators when it comes to DAM "fit" for large versus small enterprises.

Eighteen months later these are remain big factors in large enterprise readiness.

Scalability Getting Better

Vendors today are somewhat better equipped to handle these issues. Not because they've changed their tools, but because they've partnered with specialized providers of hosting, transcoding, and other particular services, rather than expect their customers to do so. In short, the industry has learned that enterprise readiness represents a much bigger picture than the inherent features of the DAM product, itself.

Cloud is finally making more of a mark on DAM: hybrid cloud-based systems are the new normal, and with large hosting providers like Amazon serving as the backbone to what may be an immature vendor tool with a slick user interface, the gap between traditional enterprise vendors and the mid-market is closing.

You might choose a less mature tool and a riskier company in order to put your trust in Amazon for hosting and embrace SaaS as a concept, rather than have to turn to your IT department and deploy a user interface that feels so 2004.

Interoperability Is the Next Frontier

Eighteen months after my initial comments on DAM scalability, I'll add another key factor in enterprise readiness that I've been discussing with several RSG subscribers in recent weeks: interoperability.

Interoperability has become a key issue in the mid-market, and an almost decisive factor in large enterprise DAM scenarios, as more systems need to talk and work well together. A marketing asset lifecycle can encompass three to five systems or more, with growing volumes of information getting employed and exchanged among those systems.

The challenge I hear about today from so many of our subscribers is that most DAM vendor APIs fall into one of three categories:

  1. Absent
  2. Brand New (literally only months old)
  3. Not New But Utterly Abysmal

You will hear every DAM vendor talk about their "robust" API. But then they obfuscate when you ask very specific questions about how you might be able to interact with it, or what kinds of calls you can make. Vendors tend to shy away from allowing you to test their API, or they have shoddy documentation that describes it. That's because in many cases, they're making it up as they go along, and collecting requirements as they try to sell you a half-million dollar license.

Interop and You

So I would caution you to test necessary integration points carefully before selecting any DAM supplier, and do not trust the broad promises of a salesperson.

Just last week I sat through a demo for a Digital Asset Management (DAM) where I counted one vendor representative say 11 times, "we can integrate with just about anything." This is a meaningless phrase when there's no understanding of what the other system actually is, or the profile of the data or content in that system, or the nature of the processes at work.

Ironically, some newer and mid-market DAM vendors have begun to focus API enrichment and documentation, while the larger, historically "enterprise" vendors still simply don't.

This is another factor in the blurring of the "enterprise" line in DAM. We rate the integration and interoperability capabilities of all the 40+ Digital & Media Asset Management vendors we evaluate at Real Story Group.

Subscribers can access the details here.

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