Is DAM Still Necessary?

End of last year, CMSWire published several articles discussing whether there is still a need for dedicated, “full-featured” digital asset management systems. In case you missed some or all of these articles, below are the links (with apologies in case I inadvertently omitted any):

Given the backgrounds of the authors, it isn’t surprising that this “debate” was very one-sided. Of these ten articles, only three raised any real questions about the continuing need for a robust DAM system.

Laurence Hart argued that a good content management system (as opposed to a “pure-play” DAM system) can provide the asset management capabilities that many enterprises require.

Narwesh Sarwan and Ralph Windsor acknowledge that there is still a strong and growing need for “digital asset management” capabilities. However, they both argue that the DAM solutions currently available are vulnerable to attack from a range of competitors who may decide to add selected DAM functionality to their solutions.

As most readers of this blog probably know, digital asset management is one of the core marketing technologies that ADAM Software provides. Therefore, we spend a considerable amount of time thinking about how digital asset management is evolving.

We agree with many of the points made in the articles listed above. For example, the volume and variety of digital content assets that enterprises must create and manage is exploding, largely because of the proliferation of digital marketing communications channels and the growing need to customize marketing messages in order to make them relevant to customers and prospects. With the number of digital content assets growing dramatically, the need for effective digital asset management has never been greater.

We also believe that DAM systems will only provide maximum value if they are integrated with other marketing technology tools such as web content management systems, product information management systems, and campaign management systems. Therefore, DAM systems are best seen as a foundational component of an enterprise’s overall marketing technology ecosystem.

Forrester Names ADAM Software a “Strong Performer” in Product Information Management

Forrester Research, Inc. recently identified ADAM Software as a “strong performer” in the product information management (PIM) category of marketing technology solutions. The Forrester Wave™:  Product Information Management (PIM), Q2 2014 report is based on an in-depth, multi-faceted evaluation of ten providers of product information management software solutions.

To be included in the Forrester PIM report, solution providers had to meet five core criteria:

  • They must have an established enterprise PIM offering.
  • They must provide a standalone PIM offering.
  • They must have a focused roadmap for PIM.
  • They must have current mindshare in the Forrester client base.
  • They must focus on retail, distribution, CPG, and manufacturing verticals.

Forrester noted that detailed product content is now a critical “differentiator” when it comes to providing outstanding customer experiences. The Forrester report states:

“As consumers spend more time researching product purchases online, the importance of high-quality product content becomes paramount for retailers, manufacturers, CPG firms, and distributors alike. In fact, retailers are prioritizing the enhancement of online product content above other merchandising initiatives including personalization, product recommendations, and A/B testing.”

Forrester identified five factors that are driving an increased interest in robust product information management solutions:

  • The need to have a single view of trusted customer-facing product information
  • The need to reduce time-to-market for new product launches
  • The need to support expanded product offerings
  • The need to support demanding channel distribution partners
  • The need to provide rich and consistent omni-channel customer experiences

In designating ADAM as a strong performer in PIM, Forrester noted that ADAM builds on its history as a provider of digital asset management software and leverages that strength to support catalog and e-commerce objectives. Forrester also observed that according to its customers, ADAM provides a superior user interface to move back and forth between PIM and DAM. The Forrester report concluded by saying:

“Overall, ADAM Software’s PIM strength is the ability to support the preparation of product information at the point of engagement with customers with little to no support from technology management, making it a true business solution, not just a data management solution.”

At ADAM, we’re gratified that Forrester has recognized the strength of our commitment to effective product content management and the quality of our PCM solution.

DAM or MRM – Which Solution is Right for Your Business?

Over the past two decades, the number and variety of marketing software applications have exploded. The proliferation of marketing applications has created a complex marketing technology landscape that can be confusing to enterprise marketing and IT leaders. Each software vendor determines what specific features and capabilities will be included in its applications and how those applications will be categorized. Therefore, the boundaries between application categories are often blurred, and as a result, several types of marketing applications can appear to provide the same (or very similar) capabilities.

Digital asset management (DAM) applications and marketing resource management (MRM) applications illustrate the lack of clear boundaries between software categories because they provide several capabilities that can appear to be quite similar. For example, both DAM and MRM applications typically provide a repository for digital content assets and enable enterprises to automate some content-related workflows.

To determine whether your company needs a DAM solution or an MRM solution (or both), the first step is to understand what capabilities each of these applications typically provide and how they differ. Two respected industry authorities have given us a good starting point for this analysis.

Digital Asset Management

Elizabeth Keathley, author of Digital Asset Management:  Content Architectures, Project Management, and Creating Order Out of Media Chaos, recently wrote an article for the DAM Foundation identifying ten characteristics that define a true digital asset management solution.

  1. The ability to generate a unique identification code for each ingested content asset
  2. The ability to design, execute, and monitor workflows pertaining to digital content assets
  3. The ability to store, track, and recall multiple versions of the same content asset
  4. The ability to create metadata fields or categories describing digital content assets
  5. The ability to define and use a robust taxonomy for digital content assets
  6. The ability to index content assets and search for assets using metadata fields
  7. Methods by which content assets can be shared and/or linked
  8. The ability to perform actions (such as uploading, downloading, etc.) on groups or “batches” of content assets
  9. The ability to ingest, store, and render a broad range of digital file formats
  10. The ability to have different user types with differing access rights and permissions

Marketing Resource Management

Research firm Gartner Inc. publishes a “Magic Quadrant for Marketing Resource Management” in which the firm evaluates MRM vendors based on their ability to support five MRM capabilities. By Gartner’s criteria, MRM applications will enable companies to:

  1. Plan and allocate resources for marketing activities and programs
  2. Create and develop marketing programs and content (including creative production and project management)
  3. Collect and manage content and knowledge (including digital asset and knowledge management)
  4. Fulfill and distribute marketing assets and collateral documents
  5. Measure, analyze, and optimize marketing resources


Why You Probably Need Both

As these criteria indicate, MRM solutions are, in some respects at least, “broader” than DAM solutions. For example, MRM solutions typically include capabilities that support planning and budgeting for marketing activities and programs. MRM solutions also typically include some capabilities for managing digital content assets, but it’s important to understand that the digital asset management component of an MRM solution may lack some of the robust features and capabilities that are found in a true enterprise-class DAM solution.

In our experience, most large enterprises need both an MRM solution and an enterprise-class DAM solution to fully meet their needs.


Survey Shows Content Localization Needs More Attention

In a 2011 survey by the Chief Marketing Officer Council, 86% of marketers said they intend to look for ways to better localize their marketing content. The driving force behind this commitment to improved local marketing is the need to make marketing messages more relevant and to deliver an outstanding customer experience.

For enterprises that compete internationally, one critical component of localization is delivering content in the primary languages of multiple target audiences. Several research studies have confirmed the importance of providing marketing content in the primary language of prospects and customers.

For example, in a 2011 survey conducted by The Gallup Organization, nine out of ten European Internet users said that, when given a choice of languages, they always visited a website in their own language. In the same survey, 42% of Internet users said they never purchase products or services in any language but their own.

Global enterprises have been localizing some marketing content for decades, but several factors now make content localization a more complex and formidable challenge.

  • Faster globalizationThe constant need for growth has accelerated the pace of globalization. For many enterprises, the most attractive growth opportunities are found in new and emerging markets. As companies enter new international markets more frequently, content localization becomes more complex.
  • Channel proliferation Digital technologies have created marketing channels that didn’t exist only a few years ago, and companies must be prepared to deliver marketing content via numerous communication channels. This dramatically increases the amount of marketing content that must be localized.
  • Heightened buyer expectations A growing number of both consumers and business buyers now expect to find fresh and current marketing content in their primary language. The need to keep marketing content current requires shorter localization cycle times and places additional demands on the people and processes responsible for localization.

Given the increased focus on content localization, the findings of a recent survey by Cloudwords were somewhat surprising. For this survey, Cloudwords polled nearly 500 participants at the recent Content Marketing World event. Here are some of the more interesting findings.

  • 60% of respondents said they lack a strategy for multilingual content marketing.
  • 69% of respondents said they don’t have an accurate picture of how much they are currently spending on content translation.
  • According to survey respondents, the top three challenges to more content localization are (a) the high cost of translation and other localization services, (b) the time required for translation and localization, and (c) the need for consistent global brand messaging.

If nothing else, the Cloudwords survey demonstrates that content localization needs more attention in many enterprises.

ComScore Data Shows the Growing Importance of Mobile Content

In several earlier posts, I’ve discussed the impact that mobile computing/communication devices are having on the marketing activities of large enterprises. The explosive proliferation of mobile devices is fueling what Forrester Research is calling the mobile mind shift. Forrester defines the mobile mind shift as: “A set of behaviors and mindsets in which people go forward with confidence that any desired information or service is available, on any appropriate device, in context, at their moment of need.(Emphasis added)

In a recent presentation at the MMA Forum in London, Hesham Al-Jehani with comScore provided additional evidence for the growing importance of mobile-enabled content in the marketing mix.

Al-Jehani began by noting that smartphone penetration in the EU5 (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK) has now reached 64%. More significantly, Al-Jehani stated that the smartphone has become the ultimate shopping companion. ComScore data reveals that in the EU5:

  • 40% of smartphone owners use their devices to access mobile retail and m-commerce sites.
  • 41% of smartphone owners use their devices to perform shopping activities.
  • 15% of smartphone owners have used their devices to make online payments.

The comScore data also reveals that finding a store location and comparing prices are the most popular shopping activities performed on smartphones.

Al-Jehani also noted that companies are deriving significant benefits from making their content accessible via mobile devices. For example, in the UK, retail sites enjoy an average 15% lift in audience reach through mobile-accessed content.

As I observed in my earlier posts, the mobile mind shift creates a new set of challenges for enterprise marketers. The most significant challenge is the need to create and manage much more marketing content.

The need for more content is driven by two factors:

  • First, content assets must be developed for more communication devices with differing technical and formatting requirements.
  • Second, potential buyers want access to detailed product information such as pricing and available colors, sizes, and features.

Therefore, the content challenge created by the mobile mind shift has two dimensions. The first is breadth (the need to have content that is optimized for numerous devices and platforms), and the second is depth (the need to provide detailed information regarding individual products and services).

As with many other marketing challenges, enterprises will need the right mix of technologies to deliver the broad and deep content demanded by the mobile mind shift. While the specific mix of technology tools will vary somewhat, companies that sell tangible products will almost certainly need robust digital asset management and product content management solutions.

Why Marketing Needs to be Better at Sales Enablement

It’s no secret that marketers in large enterprises are facing increasingly complex challenges relating to the creation, management, and distribution of marketing content. The proliferation of communication channels and devices has multiplied the number of content formats that marketers must use. More importantly, prospects and customers now expect marketing messages and materials to be relevant to their immediate interests and concerns, which greatly increases the level of personalization and customization that marketers must provide.

These challenges exist for marketers in all types of companies, but marketers in enterprises that provide expensive or complex products or services to other companies face an additional challenge. They must also develop content resources that are specifically designed to help their sales teams sell more effectively.

For decades, many B2B companies have been “sales driven,” and the primary role of marketing in these organizations was to support sales efforts. Today, marketing is playing a broader and more significant role in the demand generation process in many B2B companies. Notwithstanding these changes, person-to-person selling is still a critical part of the demand generation process, and therefore sales enablement is still a critical marketing responsibility.

Sales enablement is important for three reasons.

  • Sales support is expensiveAccording to Forrester Research, companies are spending, on average, about $135,000 per year per sales rep on sales support people, activities, and programs.
  • In most companies, the selling process needs improvement In research by IDC, 26% of business buyers said their sales reps were unprepared for the initial sales meeting, and 31% of buyers described the sales reps as only somewhat prepared.
  • Poor sales enablement is costly According to IDC, a lack of good sales enablement results in $14 million of wasted sales and marketing expenses and $100 million in lost sales opportunities in a “typical” $1 billion company.

Marketing’s primary sales enablement responsibilities are to develop effective sales enablement content resources and then make those resources easily accessible to salespeople. Recent research indicates that marketing needs to improve performance on both these fronts.

In a survey of more than 400 sales representatives and sales managers by Richardson, a sales training firm:

  • Only 52% of sales reps and 43% of managers said the content their company publishes helps improve sales effectiveness.
  • When asked how their company’s content could be improved to better support sales efforts, 59% of sales reps and 57% of managers said “improve content relevance to our customers.”

In a survey of sales professionals (sales reps and managers) by Brainshark:

  • 33% of sales reps said they’re “often” or “always (on a daily basis)” frustrated by their inability to quickly locate sales materials.
  • 41% of sales reps said they must deal with out-of-date materials, 28% said that materials are often not relevant to prospects, and 51% said they must devote time to modifying existing materials.

Gartner Names ADAM a “Cool Vendor”

Most of my blog posts are designed to be educational or informative, or to convey my perspective on marketing or technology issues that I think are important. I’ve always believed that blog content should be primarily non-promotional, so I don’t write frequently about ADAM or our products.

In this post, however, I want to make an exception. I am proud and excited to let you know that research firm Gartner, Inc. recently named ADAM Software as a “cool vendor” in the CRM marketing applications space. The other companies named as cool vendors in 2014 were DataSource, HubSpot, MindMixer, and Provenir.

The cool vendor research is not designed to be an exhaustive review of companies in any given technology area, but rather, as Gartner puts it, “to highlight interesting, new and innovative vendors, products and services.”

Here are a few of the reasons Gartner thinks ADAM is “cool”:

  • “Adam Software is a Cool Vendor for its innovative, creative life cycle management solution that enables companies to manage the brand experience.”
  • “Although a growing number of DAM vendors are targeting the MRM [marketing resource management] market, few have gained the attention from customers and partners that Adam Software has received over the past year.”
  • “Its robust set of marketing asset management capabilities to manage the creative life cycle from idea to fulfillment sets Adam Software apart from other DAM vendors that focus on marketing fulfillment.”

This probably won’t surprise you, but I’ve thought for a long time that ADAM is a “cool” company. It’s nice, though, when one’s opinion is supported by an objective third party.

One of the more gratifying aspects of being designated as a cool vendor was that Gartner chose to emphasize the strength of ADAM’s solution in enabling enterprises to effectively manage the entire creative life cycle. Over the past few years, the volume and variety of content that enterprise marketers must develop and manage have grown dramatically. At ADAM, we have always believed that digital asset management software must provide more than basic archiving and “library” functions for digital content assets. It must also provide capabilities that help marketers to streamline and optimize the activities and processes relating to the creation, review, approval, and distribution of content resources. This is what managing the creative life cycle really means.

Thanks to Gartner for highlighting these capabilities and for naming ADAM a cool vendor.