Where We’re Going with Digital Asset Management
At Topdown, we don’t make a digital asset management (DAM) solution. But since we do make customer communications management (CCM) solutions, and CCM software needs access to digital assets to function, we spend a lot of time thinking about DAM-related issues. As we develop our next generation of CCM software, we see the need to address DAM in three categories: classic enterprise content management (ECM), traditional DAM, and parts of documents. This article looks at those three categories, and at how to get the most out of them today and in the future.
ECM uses repositories for storing and sharing documents, forms and other content. For CCM, ECM is important because it is where we would find attachments or enclosures that need to be sent out with customer communications.
DAM systems store fully-formed assets – including logos, photos, videos, and other elements meant to be shared throughout the organization – that are typically used as part of something else. In CCM, we need these assets to help us create brand-consistent communications.
Parts of Documents
In CCM, we need even more granular assets to create personalized communications that are relevant to each individual customer. These component parts include templates, styles and reusable objects (most often content blocks). Currently, we store these parts of documents in our own (i.e., separate) CCM repository.
Sharing assets among systems that publish content to customer touchpoints just makes sense. Sharing assets would, in theory, cut down on the number of copies of the same asset floating around. These copies not only take up drive space, but they are also a management nightmare: How many copies are there? Where are they? Are there different versions? Who knows?
Sharing also increases the consistency of your brand. When everyone in your organization is using the same version of the same asset across all touchpoints, your content looks familiar to your customers. Familiarity does not breed contempt; rather, familiarity engenders trust and removes unconscious emotional barriers.
Sharing is different from integration. We can integrate our CCM software with just about any content management system. But our system is (currently) designed to import content. We don’t (yet) provide visibility into our system or externally share content in our repository. That’s about to change. But one vendor is not enough. All CCM vendors should take this approach. And frankly, so should all ECM and DAM vendors.
Working with DAM Vendors Who Get It
Going forward, we hope not to store any documents or “content assets” in our repository, in order to simplify asset management and storage. Our upcoming CCM solution will support CMIS. Because of this, there’s a whole list of DAM and ECM solutions that our product will be able to connect with right out of the box. These include (but aren’t limited to):
Until CMIS4DAM is available, sharing assets on a more granular level will have to be done on a case-by-case basis. Currently, we would only be able to integrate to share granular assets if an organization’s digital experience delivery platform has the same concept of granularity and if it has a proprietary API for sharing at that granular level. When that’s the case, we could do integration work for individual customers to tie systems together. But because there is no standard interface (yet), each integration will have to be a custom integration.
We suspect that if a vendor has already adopted CMIS and is participating in CMIS4DAM, the integration process could be easier than with vendors who don’t. Whether that suspicion turns out to be true or not remains to be seen.
If you’re a representative of any company that supports CMIS and/or CMIS4DAM, we’d love to hear from you! We invite you to contact us and work with us on simplifying the integration for sharing these more granular assets (layouts, styles, reusable objects) among software solutions throughout organizations.
And if you’re a representative of a business struggling with digital asset integration, please point your DAM and/or ECM vendor here as well. We want to work together to make CCM and DAM experiences much smoother and more productive for everyone.
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.