Why We Like Open Source Digital Asset Management Solutions
In “Digital Asset Management: Solution or Part of the CX Problem?” I discussed why an end-to-end customer experience management software solution that could serve marketing, operations, sales, customer service, human resources, accounting and more doesn’t exist – and perhaps shouldn’t:
“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.”
So, instead of looking for a nonexistent comprehensive solution, the answer is to build your own custom digital experience delivery (DXD) system out of the best solutions available.
Advantages of Open Source Software
Not all software solutions are designed to play well with others. Many are aggressively proprietary—purposely designed to work only with other solutions sold by the same vendor. There is a particular dearth of open solutions in the DAM space.
In my most recent article for CMSWire, “Overcoming Those DAM Customer Experience Obstacles," I explain why the DAM system is particularly important for customer communications management (CCM) and describe an alternative to waiting for DAM software vendors to offer the APIs necessary to act as the single repository for all the DXD software under one roof:
“You could always build the sharing functionality yourself. In theory, at least, you could start with the digital experience delivery tools that support something like the JSR 170 and JSR 283 Java Content Repository (JCR) specifications, like Apache Jackrabbit. Adobe and Hippo come to mind, but there are others. It would then be possible – again, in theory – to use pointers to some digital asset types in a single JCR, or in some cases to use the available APIs in order to get versioning, check in/out and other highly desirable functionality.”
Consequently, I urge business leaders to choose software – including a DAM system – that is designed to be open. That way, you have the freedom and flexibility to choose the best solution for each piece of your DXD system and can sew together your own custom platform that does everything you need it to do while easily sharing the data and assets you need in order to deliver a consistent and personalized customer experience across departments and channels. Open source solutions generally embrace this open philosophy.
Good News: Open Source DAM Systems Exist
Open source DAM systems are a little hard to find, but they do exist. Examples include Nuxeo and Alfresco. Other DAM solutions support the open philosophy as well. Whether looking for an open source or proprietary solution, focus your search on DAM vendors that support open standards such as CMIS, CMIS4DAM and Java Specification Requests JSR-170 and JSR-283.
CMIS is the OASIS specification for content management interoperability that allows client and servers to talk together in HTTP (REST with JSON, AtomPub or SOAP) using a unified domain model. CMIS4DAM is similar to CMIS, but supports more granular assets than just fully-formed documents. The JSRs are change requests for Java libraries, and they are part of the Java Community Process. Apache Jackrabbit is an open source Java content repository (JCR) based on JSR-170 and JSR-283.
Remember that a DAM is a repository of digital assets, and the point of having a digital repository is to share assets. From a design standpoint, if you have a single repository for everything from marketing automation to CCM, you won’t have to duplicate your resources and can store and manage them all in one place. If you make sure your DAM and other DXD tools support a philosophy of open architecture, you can avoid the costs and errors involved in maintaining multiple repositories for different systems.
Why Your DAM Is Important to CCM
While most people think of digital assets as graphics (e.g., logos, images, movies, etc.), documents (e.g., text files, presentations, spreadsheets, etc.), and the metadata about those files, we in CCM take a more holistic approach to digital assets that also includes:
- Layouts (e.g., Bootstrap or Freemarker templates)
- Style sheets (XSL, CSS, etc.)
- Reusable content fragments (HTML DIV elements in web pages, Reusable HTML in SharePoint, etc.)
Your CCM solution will, of course, need assets like logos and other branding elements from the DAM. If your DAM includes layouts, style sheets, and reusable content fragments, we can get it all from one place to increase your efficiency and keep your costs down.
The goal is to create a consistent customer experience across the entire customer lifecycle, at every touchpoint and every channel. If marketing is using one DAM and customer support is using a different one, there will be a noticeable disconnect in CX that customers can quite easily see. This disconnect creates unnecessary friction within critical customer journeys, and sharing digital assets is an obvious way to minimize the inconsistencies that can cast your brand in a negative light to potential and existing customers alike.
As CCM vendors who don’t make or sell a DAM solution, we care very much what kind of DAM you choose because we want to be able to integrate with it to easily pull down the assets you need in order to create personalized and automated communications while utilizing shared workflow features, versioning, etc. If we can do that, we can help make your customer experience management more efficient, easy and effective.
An Invitation for You
I’m in the process of gathering a variety of experts to help me explore these ideas about open source DAMs, asset sharing, and CXM further, so if you’re interested in this approach, you should request to join the CX Architects group on LinkedIn.
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.