8 DAM Trends to Watch in 2018

2018 will be a big year for Digital Asset Management. We’ve reached a tipping point where all sectors have become media-dependent.  But how to manage all those assets?

8 DAM Trends to Watch

Here’s eight trends you should watch this year.

DAM Trend #1: Every Marketing Department Needs It

DAM is now essential to marketing. As visual story-telling becomes central to customer communications and experience, your marketing teams cannot live without a DAM. Particularly since great design, photography, and videography is resource-intensive, you can’t afford to treat these assets casually.

This means your assets have to be searchable, update-able, versionable, and above all extendable. Executed right, that’s what a DAM does. Vendors are responding by extending their platforms, understanding that teams need to manage assets from creation through production, publication, versioning, usage, reuse, and multi-channel derivation. But you have many options here, and will want to chose carefully to find the right fit.

DAM Trend #2: The Center of Your Digital Marketing Stack

The most sophisticated enterprises are positioning their DAM systems as the single source of truth for their media assets.

But this requires careful attention to integration, so that your DAM can assets to your customer experience environments, like WCM, Marketing Automation, and Social Media Engagement, and Journey Orchestration, tools.

DAM Trend #3: Vendors Extending Functionality

DAM vendors are trying to earn a larger spot within marketing departments by filling in the awkward areas between marketing technologies. In some cases this is good (e.g., creative workflow). In other cases this is bad (e.g., master data management).

Features like copy management, product information management (PIM), creative workflow, collaboration, and compound asset management are all showing up in marketing-focused DAM products. You may not need them all, but for simpler architectures it could be handy to have them around.

In other cases — particularly for larger enterprises — you won't want to overload your DAM with too many data types and decision layers that don’t belong there.

DAM Trend #4: Work-In-Progress Management

Traditionally, DAM systems have focused on finished assets. We’re now seeing vendors pay much more attention to creative workflows. Nearly anyone involved in the production of media and marketing knows that collaboration, review and approval cycles can be the most difficult part and take 50% or more of the time and effort.

Vendors realize that workflow is hard – especially for creative professionals who often have unique ways of working. A more general shift from structured, linear processes to more collaborative teamwork and means traditional workflows are a poor match for the task.

We have seen several approaches to this challenge. Some vendors are building their own collaboration and workflow tools. Some are embedding common workflows into their DAMs. Still others are partnering with workflow vendors to integrate their DAMs with best-of-breed services.

Some of these integrations are deeper and more cohesive than others.  Pay close attention (like RSG does in our research) to the difference between workflow and collaboration here.

DAM Trend #5: DAM as PIM?

Product companies need to manage heterogeneous types of information about their offerings, not the least because they have to distributed lots of data points to myriad third parties.

The likes of Amazon, Walmart, Kroger, Nordstrom, Macy’s, etc. want product images, data, and content in specific (often unique) formats. It can be a nightmare to keep everything straight.

Some DAM systems are trying to become the place where your data, copy, and media assets come together. As such, they are competing with PIM systems in a race to be the aggregation layer for many enterprises. We would tend to counsel a separate PIM platform, but for smaller to mid-sized enterprises, your DAM might suffice now.

DAM Trend #6: Managing Internal Knowledge

How do employees learn from one another and re-use intellectual property? As video and other media have exploded in online marketing and social media over the last decade, a similar shift was taking place inside the enterprise. Increasingly your colleagues reading and writing fewer documents and making and watching more videos, as well as creating more diagrams, charts, and PowerPoint presentations.

These are valuable assets and a smart enterprise will manage them as such. So while you invest in DAM for your marketing and media departments, don’t miss the potentially critical internal use case.

DAM Trend #7: Tracking Asset ROI

Good design and great communications are serious investments of time and talent, and that resource allocation needs to be justified. Savvy executives are starting to look more closely at the costs and benefits of their assets.

Executives want more insight into metrics like how long the creative process takes, and how much reuse is actually happening. Of course they want to invest in the right assets that move the needle.

Taking a cue from Marketing Resource Management (MRM) providers, some DAM vendors are now trying to track the time needed to produce assets and roll up these costs into marketing campaigns. Some are going further to track analytics on individual assets. Ideally they pull analytics from various engagement systems or data warehouses to track both use of, and engagement with, individual assets.

Not every vendor can embed these external reports, so try before you buy.

DAM Trend #8: Vendors Specializing More

Each industry sector brings its own media needs and they can vary widely. Entertainment companies require different DAM services than manufacturing firms. Vendors are evolving to suit specific industries.

Healthcare in particular is seeing a lot of attention these days, and we’ve seen several vendors add features including certification of HIPAA-compliance. Others have focused on retail or Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), with capabilities like PIM integration.

Still other DAM products are aiming at the scale and performance needs of Media and Entertainment companies. Others are building out use cases for Non-profits, and Education. Even advertising agencies are getting focused attention and can now find products designed to facilitate the needs of companies building assets for and with multiple clients.

If you’re trying to build the right shortlist of DAM vendors, you’ll want to look at how well they serving your particular industry’s use cases. (RSG’s RealQuadrant tool just does this…)

We’ll be tracking DAM developments all year. Join us.

In sum, DAM has finally reached a tipping point: not just in terms of product maturity catching up with use cases, but the level of amenities, features, and user experience rising at a time when customers of all stripes need them most.

DAM will remain a hot topic of conversation all year. We’ll be tracking developments and sharing our observations throughout. Check out our DAM 2018 resource post to find out about emerging research. You’ll love RSG's vendor selection tools.

If you have a specific question or have spotted a new or unusual DAM phenomenon in the field, let us know at info@realstorygroup.com.

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