How is DAM different from Cloud Content Management and Enterprise File Sync & Share?

Without a doubt, the most common question I get about Digital Asset Management solutions is:

How is a DAM different from something like OneDrive, Box, or Dropbox?

As I answer that question here, let’s agree on two basic assumptions:

  1. If you’re reading this, you’re drowning in content—either in making it or trying to use it! That’s because just about every business creates so much content, that it can be overwhelming to organize.
  2. You probably use some sort of corporate file/asset storing system like OneDrive, Sharepoint, Box, Dropbox, or a version of Google Drive, and you’re wondering if adding yet another technology tool is going to be worth the effort.

OK, so what’s the difference you ask? Let’s start by describing the markets and you’ll immediately see how content collaboration platforms and digital asset management systems diverge.

 Content Collaboration Platform or Cloud Content Platform or EFSS?

A couple years ago, the solutions mentioned were all considered Enterprise File Sync and Share (EFSS) solutions. But that market has modernized and now encompasses new tech trends (the cloud) and a broader mandate (collaboration).  Today, you may hear them described as Content Collaboration Platform or Cloud Content Platforms. All of those titles are pretty descriptive, suggesting that the solution’s primary purpose is to create a central place for users to upload files and share out to an audience.

Collaboration is a hot topic for many businesses, so the market rebrand was probably a smart move, but if you hear any of the above terms, they are referring to the same group of companies and their solutions.

Digital Asset Management

I think it’s fair to say that a couple years ago, there probably wasn’t much of a difference between a leading DAM and a leading CCP solution. But the markets are diverging, the main driver of which is based on one simple question you should ask yourself today:

How is the content being used?

If the answer is focused on outbound, end-customer consumption, you’re talking about managing the content lifecycle of final assets—like web content, product content, social media and digital channels content—versus managing the day-to-day content being created to run your company—like presentations, contracts, and more. DAM technology has evolved into a critical piece of the customer experience technology stack where CCP solutions have become integral to the employee experience technology stack. In other words, DAM streamlines customer experiences, CCP helps the employee experience.

Do you have a DAM Problem? Here are 6 Questions to Help 

  1. Are you storing customer-focused content or internal company content?If you’re focused on customer content, you’re likely thinking about how to get that content into the hands of your customers. That means integrating with your execution channels and making it easy for the channel owners to find the right content with minimal effort. DAMs are highly customizable and allow for integration right into the UI of the tool you’re using, such as your WebCMS, eCommerce, or Digital Marketing Hub.
  2. Do you need to publish the content to multiple systems?A concept of “store once, send to many” really applies to a DAM. This is where you want a single source of truth with controlled entry and exit points of content. Advanced DAM solutions have content production workflows where reviews and approvals have to happen for content to be added at all. Then there’s a separate workflow to keep content fresh or to retire it before it becomes dated, avoiding the common problem that plagues every organization: when users go to a central place (usually a CCP) and download an asset to their desktop to then send on to a channel owner. Perfect recipe for errors.
  3. Are you supporting rich media (hi-res video) or even emerging forms of content like 3D models?There are two things to keep in mind about emerging forms of content:
  1. They’re usually huge files, so you need a system that is specifically designed to manage the workload of moving this kind of file around.
  2. Most end users don’t have the specialized applications on their device to work with those media, so you need in-app functionality to help a user determine if it’s the right asset for them.Leading DAM vendors excel at both things! While CCP solutions are certainly capable of storing rich media assets, performance lags in a corporate environment. They also often lack the preview capabilities inherent to leading DAM solutions.
  3. Do you need to create personalized user experiences by a set of factors such as region, product, or function… or all three (or more) at once?This question is all about creating a personalized user experience and being able to change that experience as the business changes. Leading DAM vendors allow you to make changes on-the-fly to how you organize your assets (taxonomy) and how you give access to said assets via robust security capabilities.
  4. Are your content production processes complex (lots of steps, parallel paths, multiple reviews and approvals) or simple?The term ‘workflow’ can mean many things but I’m really talking about the process required to create your content in the first place. DAM solutions go beyond the capabilities of CCP vendors by offering advanced capabilities such as AI-powered task routing, the ability to have parallel processes with dependent step logic, and, most crucially, the ability to visually mark-up content as part of a review and approval process in the app itself.
  5. Does your company have legal exposure to the usage of certain content?Do you work with models/premium talent where there are very specific contractual terms? Or do you work in a highly regulated environment like financial services or life sciences? Either way, a DAM ensures that the only content that makes it into market is the content that has been approved and is still valid. A commitment to a DAM solution makes it easy for employees to know “if it’s in the DAM and it says it’s valid, it’s good; if it’s not in the DAM, ask questions.”

If you answered ‘Yes’ to at least two of these questions, you probably have a content problem that a DAM solution can help you solve.

If this sounds like you and you’re new to the space, check out the The Forrester Wave™: Digital Asset Management for Customer Experience to get a better sense of DAM capabilities and the DAM technology landscape.

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