We have deployed many DAM systems for clients and these are used for many different purposes. They usually have some common facets to the systems like:
- They create content that they want to share.
- The content exists in multiple formats.
- They have information about the content (metadata) that they also want to share.
- They want to share the content over the web.
- They want to secure access to the content.
Our clients who deploy these systems are in a wide variety of industries: publishing, cosmetics, library/reference, museums, hospitals, manufacturing. They use the system to sell their digitall assets, to share sales and marketing collateral and to manage their brand collateral.
DAM systems are great at organizing a mess of files but there power can be extended to many other key systems throughout your organization. A natural fit is to integrate it with your CMS system for web publishing where the CMS manages the publishing process and the DAM serves up the assets like images and text. Add e-commerce to the CMS and you can have all the data related to a product available to the client at time of purchase. There are some great opportunities to improve your customer service too by making product collateral like manuals etc. available to clients over the web.
While these system integration exercises will yield some great benefits, they are the more obvious opportunities but there are other systems that can benefit from integration with DAM as well, some of which aren’t so obvious. Integration with a PIM System (product information management system) can merge the physical and promotional aspects of a product with the sizing, pricing and costing data. Integration with an ERP system can provide much of the same benefits as a PIM with added benefits of showing inventory levels and logistic data.
The benefits to these integrations are significant. So, why aren’t they done more often? The long standing issues surrounding any system integration initiative are no different when integrating DAM. There is only one right way to do do it and that involves normalizing all data to avoid duplication of data. Duplication is a common weakness of many integration projects because it undermines the benefits. Users lose faith in the system when:
- They access data that is out of date.
- They update data only to find that different data appears in other systems.
- They update data only to find that it never makes it into other systems.
Consequently, DAM is often deployed as an island. The issue here though is the same same: duplication. Unless everyone knows that the DAM system is the authoritative source to the data and they have access to it, they end up with a copy when they need it. The source can change in the mean time and the copy is then outdated. Regardless, the copy is usually reused relentlessly. This creates some significant branding issues for companies when the wrong message gets out.
Every integration project should be committed to doing it right. Otherwise they never deliver the results intended. This means you must examine the data first and do everything possible to have a single authority for all data. Once you do this, the project is really about turning the authoritative source into a service everyone can use.