Customization or Integration

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In a number of recent discussions with prospective DAM users I have been asked about customizing the digital asset management software to meet additional needs such as blogging, wikis, budgeting and resource workflows, or other capabilities.  The need to tie such functions into your media archiving and distribution engine has obvious advantages.  However, I question the idea of having your digital asset solutions vendor write custom code to build out solutions that they have little experience with when there are specialized vendors and platforms available on the market right now.  It seems to me that it makes more sense to integrate with an existing solution that’s already tested and offered as a proven product or service on the market.  A lot of DAM vendors seem to be surviving on professional services dollars lately and are expanding into arenas in which they just have no expertise.  I mean, why would you have a DAM vendor build out your blog site when a simple Google search brings back a host of solutions that I am sure offer much more cost effective solutions that will be far more successful.  

I believe customers should look at a solution’s abilities to integrate with outside applications and websites and a vendor’s experience in doing so before sitting through the customization pitch.  When asked if they meet a particular requirement, too many vendors use the “we can customize it” line as way to say yes.  Ask the vendor what kind of partnerships and relationships they have developed in the industry and what integration means to them.  DAM solutions should be built with integration in mind because they are only one part of a digital media file’s lifecycle.  The files reside in the DAM repository but are actually being used and referenced outside of it.  And while one vendor might mean one point of contact for support, I think you will find that customization often turns into a blank check that vendors will keep cashing in at the end of each quarter.  Look at integrating first. 

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