A few weeks back I posed this question to the DAM Pros group on LinkedIn:
Would anyone like to provide clarity to the issue in defining digital asset management and/or position of DAM relative to ECM?
I asked this because the ABI Research press release from 9/3/2008 mentioned that there was a lingering confusion about the definition of digital asset management... often confused with ECM, however DAM is considered to be a subset of ECM.
One of the first responses to the discussion was this: We spend too much time talking about semantics in this subject. My experience has taught me that managing electronic content encompasses different needs and requirements in each situation... so what I call it doesn't mean as much as what I can accomplish.
More of the same with the next respondent in agreement that too much breadth and too many keystrokes are wasted over arguing about acronyms. Regardless of whether a solution professes to be DAM, or ECM or Document Management, etc. it is managing content.
The important things to consider are what organizational problems need to be solved. Some common considerations: In what channel(s) is the content to be delivered? What are workflow and approval needs? Will digital rights management be required? Will it need to be integrated with legacy information systems? Will the content be served as individual files, or will it require on-the-fly assembly of multiple files?
The last participant added: DAM is actually a subset of ECM with it's own special feature set, where assets in the DAM environment are much more dynamic, assets in the ECM environment are mostly combined with other assets and as such static. So basically DAM is feeding ECM where DAM takes care of those assets in it evaluation phase. Also DAM is better in managing assets like images, video, logos where ECM is better in managing text related assets.
I agree with much of the discussion in that acronyms only get us so far in defining a solution. Perhaps we can get more into the more common feature sets of DAM vs. ECM and also how DAM system can / should integrate with other systems in future discussions.