Digital Asset Management: Solution or Part of the CX Problem?
As software vendors, we at Topdown are keenly aware that our customer communications management (CCM) solutions do not exist in a vacuum. Every one of our customers has integrated our CCM software into a unique ecosystem made up of other software and systems, all serving different departments and purposes, all fighting for resources (bandwidth, access to databases, etc.), and all with varying levels of ability to integrate with other software in the ecosystem.
We see firsthand the struggle IT staff go through every time they have to install or upgrade software and have to juggle budgets and competing business interests to make sure everyone gets what they need. That’s why we don’t just hand our software over to customers and tell them they’re on their own. We go on-site to help with installation and training to make sure our software works well for our customers in their unique environment. When there’s a problem with a customer’s IT infrastructure that interferes with our software, we help solve it – even when it’s not our fault. That’s just good customer service and a great customer experience.
How to Minimize IT Costs and Frustration
It seems like the ideal solution would be for someone to build a tool that could do everything for everyone, using resources such as databases and bandwidth seamlessly and without logjams or delays, accessible by any department at any time, and easily upgradeable over the long term – a comprehensive solution that could serve marketing, operations, sales, customer service, human resources, accounting and more. Unfortunately, such a solution doesn’t exist, and it may never exist. More importantly, you may not actually want it to exist.
Why not? Because tools made to serve a very specific purpose, created by people who specialize in that purpose and are passionate about really doing a limited number of things very well, are always better at solving a particular problem than a tool set meant to be everything to everyone. Invariably, tool sets that try to be everything to everyone have severe weaknesses in one or more functions that are outside the core competencies of the original core business problem(s) the software set out to solve.
The key isn’t having one giant software suite that does everything; the key is to have specialized software solutions that are all designed to play well together.
Example: The DAM System
For example, one software system that affects almost every part of an organization is the digital asset management (DAM) system. At Topdown, we don’t make DAM software. But we do have to make sure our CCM solutions work with our customers’ DAM software. Therefore, we care very much which DAM software you choose.
What Is DAM Software?
A DAM software system is exactly what it sounds like – it’s a repository for digital assets such as images, videos, animations, podcasts, music, copy, marketing collateral, and any other media an organization needs to store, track, recall and reuse. It’s a digital library, and ideally there would be just one DAM software solution within an enterprise so that digital assets are not being redundantly stored and/or propagating inconsistently throughout the organization.
Why Do You Need DAM Software?
Often, the need for a DAM system originates in marketing, where there is a strong need to keep track of brand assets such as logos, trademarks, approved images, repeating campaign elements, and so on, as well as marketing collateral, licensed photos, animated product demonstrations, podcasts, slide decks, etc. In a large organization, such media objects proliferate rapidly, and without a strong system for storing and recalling these items, they frequently get lost and must be recreated or repurchased, causing increased costs and decreased productivity and efficiency for the company. On top of that, there is the problem of version control and inconsistencies that end customers can certainly see as elements like the company’s logo change in appearance from channel to channel or even page to page.
But marketing isn’t the only department that needs regular access to digital assets. We need them all the time for CCM as well. Over on the operations side, we generate millions of pieces of digital and print correspondence every month using templates and business logic that draw on reusable objects like logos, letterheads, text blocks and graphics to present a consistent and professional brand image for existing customers as well. In many organizations, all those assets get replicated and stored again and again, in different databases, where versions quickly diverge and variations become a major issue. That’s why you need a DAM and a CCM solution that can play well with each other, and with other systems, to avoid such costly redundancies and embarrassing inconsistencies.
How Do You Choose the Best DAM Software?
Choose software that is designed to be open. Whether it’s open source digital asset management software that supports open standards, a customer communications management solution with robust support for web services, a web content management system that’s friendly to third-party plugins and APIs, etc., the best way to keep IT and business users happy (and costs down) is to choose software that is made with the philosophy of working well with the rest of an organization’s systems pretty much out of the box.
Software that is too proprietary and locked down – suites that are designed to work only with solutions produced by one company, within their own systems and no one else’s – can cause serious problems when you want to add on a tool from someone else. And when it comes time to upgrade that proprietary system, it can be tremendously costly to have to upgrade everything at the same time just to get that one feature you needed from one piece of that system.
No, we think the future of enterprise software lies in solutions that are designed to interoperate – not just integrate – with other software. Every organization has an absolutely unique architecture that demands the ability to sew pieces of technology together to form a cohesive and functional system. Your DAM is just one example of the many software components you’ll be choosing, replacing or upgrading in the near future. Choose one that plays well with others for the best long-term outcome for your organization’s digital experience delivery infrastructure and the best possible experience for your customers.
Download our free eBook (see below) to learn more about why and how to integrate digital experience delivery and customer communications management technologies to close gaps in customer experience.
About John Zimmerer
John Zimmerer is the senior director of marketing at Topdown, where he leads market research and outreach efforts for the company's customer communications and customer experience products. Most recently, John has been researching and writing about the future direction of the technologies that power customer experience, and is regarded as a thought leader in this area. John has nearly 20 years of software product marketing experience. His areas of expertise include market research, analyst relations, public relations and digital marketing.