Digital Asset Management Implementation: Complex or Simple

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Guest blog post from Sean Banahan, Widen Area Sales Director

Coming back from the Henry Stewart Digital Asset Management Conference in LA I got to thinking about how complex a DAM implementation can become.  In many cases it just doesn’t need to be that big of a deal.  Really.  Most vendors make money off of the illusionary complexity of a DAM system.  I am not saying that managing and distributing your media files isn’t extremely important.  It is.  I just see a lot of vendors telling customers that they need to invest months and months in planning and preparation for a DAM solution.  You need to define very complex processes and then spend tens of thousands on RFP development, vendor shootouts and then risk analysis.  They partner with consultants who in turn make money on the preparation and afterwards, the implementation and integration.  If all that worked then why are so many companies looking to migrate to a second or even a third DAM system.
I believe there is a common theme within the industry of failed implementations and unhappy customers because people try to make DAM into something its not.  Your DAM system is not ever going to be a good Direct Mailing application or morph into the perfect tool to plan marketing budgets, no matter what the smiling guy in front of the PowerPoint says.  It should connect and feed the appropriate resources to those tools just like it should be sending images, graphics, videos, logos and marketing materials to your web portals.  Let vendors do what they do best and you will reap the benefits.  Don’t try to fit the square peg into the round hole. 

A hosted or on-demand model works well because it’s up and running relatively quickly and doesn’t support the waves of preparation and implementation happy consultants.  Up front costs tend to be much lower and monthly subscription fees give you room to grow as needed.  Best of all you can try it out without getting locked in.  Most hosted digital asset management software systems worth their weight should have some kind of mechanism for integrating into your existing or future application environments so fitting in at school shouldn’t be all that tough either.  Of course, the licensed software vendors and hosts of consultants are already hijacking the on-demand/ASP/SaaS model.  Software vendors that make killings off their professional services engagements and consultants that sell year long planning engagements see DAM SaaS offerings as an easy way in the door and a route to getting you on heavy licensed software products down the road.  Nowadays, with the economic turmoil you see on CNN each morning, everyone has to say they have a SaaS offering.  That’s great in that it helps justify the SaaS model but then they go and pitch you on excessively long term contracts and heavy customization again.  I have to wonder if those same consultants and software vendors would rent an economy car from Hertz and then take it down to the body shop to add a sunroof.  Are they selling you a service to fit your needs or are they building you a ladder into the monster truck of a software solution they are just dying to tie you to?

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