DAM Advisors, Customer Confidants, Clairvoyants
Where is the DAM conversation headed?
If you’ve ever contacted Widen, you’ve probably had the pleasure of interacting with one of our DAM Advisors, including Chris. They’re the best of the best, with a knack for making people feel comfortable and confident in conversations about a topic that is complex and sometimes even scary: digital asset management (DAM). They’re smart, good listeners, and well, just plain nice.
In Widen’s efforts to stay at the forefront of DAM, we’re always talking with people outside our company about the world of marketing technologies. Our customers, partners, and potential customers have great stories about their marketing and creative challenges, innovations, and outcomes. Now we’re bringing the conversation 360 by going inside and talking with these three awesome Widen employees. After all, they’re the key touchpoint to those outside organizations who need DAM today, and in the future.
Here’s what they had to say about the changing DAM climate and where they see DAM going in the future.
1. What are the most common questions you’re asked today by organizations looking for a DAM solution?
How much does it cost? How does Widen differ from the competitors? What other technologies do you integrate with?
Many people want to know about features sets – what’s included with our solution and what’s optional. There also seems to be a lot of mystery around system implementation – what happens and what all is involved? And again, in comparison to competitors, is our implementation process the same or different?
2. How do those questions differ from one or two years ago? Or are they the same?
Organizations are asking essentially the same questions, but the conversation is different today because DAM doesn’t seem to be such a new concept. There is a lot of overlap with people referring to a DAM solution as a CRM tool or PIM tool depending on the organization and their professional background. They understand it plays a role with these tools, which is great because they now have some context for what it is and what it can do to help them.
Most of the people we hear from have heard the term DAM at this point. The market is very focused on integration points, so conversations about how integrated we are, and with what solutions, are coming up earlier in the Q and A process.
DAM is an investment that comes with a change in workflows and, many times, a change in culture. Organizations need to be honest with themselves about how far they can really push their people in accepting a solution like DAM. So when questions are asked, we’re not just saying “yes or no” because organizations want the use cases, they want to know more about what other companies like themselves are doing with DAM and what kinds of outcomes they get. So, there’s a lot more to explain.
A couple of years back, it took longer to advance the product and develop features. Now, things go fast and people want to know more sooner. Another difference is that we have a lot more resources to share today than we used to. We’re working hard to segment out which resources are best for which questions and help people learn in different ways. Some people want to read a use case in a blog post or white paper, others want a training video, and still others like webinars.
We also spend more time understanding an organization’s specific situations because we have so many more features than we did two years ago and can solve issues we couldn’t touch before.
3. What feelings are people experiencing when they reach out to Widen? What's weighing heaviest on their minds?
It spans from skeptical to excited. If someone is reaching out because they have a real project defined and the resources to support it, then they’re excited to learn if we’re a fit. But those who just ask about pricing or want us to respond to an RFP are more skeptical. They haven’t thought through the business problem they’re trying to solve, so they don’t really know what they’re looking for. In turn, we can’t really get to the bottom of things and talk through any use cases.
The position someone has in the company really affects how they feel coming into the conversation. IT often feels pressure internally. They know they have to solve a technical problem, but are often already overloaded managing multiple systems. Many times they’re skeptical going in, but end up feeling relieved by the end of our conversation because we can spend time speaking to their specific situation.
The marketing perspective is usually a mix of exhaustion and curiosity. Many times they’ve been struggling with their content and assets for a long time and they’re tired, but genuinely inquisitive about a solution like DAM that will make their life so much easier. But if they’re just tasked with just getting price comparisons, you can hear the panic in their voice.
Those people looking at us who are more experienced with DAM or marketing solutions are most excited because chances are they’ve had success with another marketing technology in the past and they know we can help. Those who are newer to the game are often overwhelmed and confused. There have been an explosion of new DAM providers in the past two years, ranging from very lightweight image libraries to hybrid DAM. Some appear to have a great feature set simply because their website is slick, but when you drill down you discover they really don’t. Lots of providers are looking and sounding the same, so that’s hard if you’re out there looking around. You need to spend time talking with providers and understanding who’s been around. You can’t treat DAM like a band aid. You can’t just cover the wound, you need to stop the bleeding.
4. What topics are up for discussion these days? What's your POV on those topics?
I think the topics have shifted quite a bit since we started focusing on integration partners. We moved away from needing to fulfill the one-stop shop DAM to the marketplace of an ecosystem and that we can fit into that ecosystem by integrating with other best-in-breed technologies. We don’t have to master it all ourselves. It’s exciting because we can focus on what we do best and align with others who are best at what they do. It’s a win-win for all of our customers.
Cloud is always a topic, but there’s a lot more trust for cloud now. That offering has become so much more prominent and common. The expectation is that you’re almost always using Amazon Web Services. I remember when people didn’t know what cloud was and we had to address all the negative assumptions about cloud and SaaS before we could talk about anything else.
We also have a more capable API today than we did two years ago. So many customers are using our REST API and we have more documentation about this topic than ever. We’re always creating more documentation about who we are and what we do.
5. Where do you see DAM going in the next two years? What kinds of questions do you anticipate organizations asking you in the future as a result of things happening in the marketplace?
DAM as a whole, the platform, will be more specialized on core DAM and we’ll see more opportunities for plugins. The expectation will be application-based and then being able to push a button to download the other tools you need.
The conversation about the API will also be more important, as a result. There will be recipes for making use of the API for plugins that don’t exist yet. We’ll be sharing more customer stories about the API in use and development.
I think, even this last year, we’re having a different conversations in a different way because the RFP conversation is failing certain organizations. The problem is that RFPs tend to ask if we have these features versus how we're going to them solve their problems. That doesn’t let them talk about whether something is going to be a good fit. And every solution truly is about fitting an organization’s needs. When they don’t take a good look and define what they really need, they end up with a system that doesn’t do what they need it to do, and then it isn’t used. Which is a huge waste of everyone’s time and money. We’re following scenarios more for an RFD - Request for Demo - so we can show how we’re solving problems. It’s a better way to see if a solution will fit, just short of the sandbox testing and trial options.
DAM is not a stand alone piece of software. It may have been treated that way a few years back. In the future, it will become more invisible. People may interact with assets, but they won’t necessarily login to a DAM solution to have that interaction. Seeing, consuming, and sharing of the assets will come from any number of other places.
I think we’ll see more integration and user experience questions. People will continue to build on the quest to integrate with the systems they’re already using.
6. What advice do you have for organizations who realize they need a DAM solution?
“Open up and trust somebody. Tell them what your workflow problems are. Don’t be shy about it. If you don’t reveal the real problems, you’re not going to find a provider who can really help you.”
To talk more about your DAM needs or where DAM is going, get in touch anytime!