ENTERPRISE DIGITAL ASSETS
MANAGEMENT - PRODUCT SURVEY & SWOT ANALYSIS:
Every year, according to market research firm Gistics Inc ., companies jeopardize $300
billion worth of their brand-related digital content such as video, packaging,
print and audio because it is either lost, misplaced or duplicated. An average
of $8,200 per person per year is spent on file management activities, like
searching, organizing, backup, and
security; the average user in a media enterprise
looks for a media file 83 times a week and 35% of the time the item in not
found. This is the problem digital-asset-management systems address.
Digital Asset Management is a general term to
loosely describe the process of creating and managing a centralized repository
for all the digital contents of a company. In today’s corporate environment,
the production and management of new text, audio, and video material are
increasingly digital, and new medias like the Web are constantly raising the
question of whether existing assets should be digitized. This is especially
true for companies whose first business is communication, such as entertainment
companies, networks, and publishers, as well as any business with a growing
need to communicate with customers, employees, and other partners. This is
where the need for a Digital Asset Management system begins. Till lately often
companies threw away huge sums of money simply because digital assets were
lost, or not found at the moment of need. A company could spend 6 figure
dollars for a photo shoot and due to improper storage fail to find it at a
later point. This directly affects the company sales, marketing, public
relations, and investor relations. It can even cut directly to issues like the
length of the sales cycle and the ability of the company to promote shareholder
value. A digital Asset Management is the answer to this nightmare
Digital Asset Management is often discussed under a
number of sub headings. These groupings are often largely technical and in
theory serve very similar functions.
Most of them are variations of a
centralized repository for any and all of your digital content. Short
descriptions or thumbnails of your digital content, known as metadata, are
stored in a database for easy searching and management. This metadata is linked
to the actual image, file or video clip, normally stored on a server. When
you’ve found the description of the media you’re looking for, you can quickly
retrieve them. And you don’t necessarily have to be in the office—a good
digital asset manager will let you retrieve clips over the Internet.
Knowledge Management, DAM - Digital Asset Management, MAM – Media Asset
Management, DAW – Digital Asset Warehousing,
These are a few of the acronyms hanging around and
while there are lines of distinction between them they all answer to the
growing need for digital asset management
Knowledge management encompasses
all of what an organization generates, uses, and promulgates to the world and
to itself. This would include all of its reports, databases, Power Point
presentations, phone logs, visitor logs, transportation and shipping manifests,
photos, videos, and more.
Next in line is content
management. It is on a lower level than knowledge management as it need not
include reports, logs, or other informal kinds of information transfer in a
company. For our purposes, content management covers the creation, storage, and
printing or delivering of audio, video, or JPEG images, Power Point slides and
slide shows, scripts, brochures, or other printed ephemera.
Further under the skin of the
onion is the Media Asset Management sphere. The MAM sphere is a subset of
content management as it is focused on the audio and visual media generated
within a company
Finally, the Digital Asset Management sphere represents
the smallest of the spheres in the knowledge/content onion. DAM systems focus
on the repurposing and resale of digital assets-audio, video, slides, and the
like. As such, it may not cover all the media content generated for a firm, as
some assets would remain internal or for one-time external use.
There may be some argument regarding what is digital
asset and that may determine if DAM is a sub group under MAM or not and varying
opinions exist on that front.
To understand why or how DAM is useful to a company
let us for a moment look at the flow of data in the process of content
generation, retention, and distribution with and without DAM. This content can
be any media–digital or analog–as well as any sub-type, such as JPEGs, MPEGs,
Word documents, Power Point presentations, or spreadsheets. Typically, this
process consists of four stages, as follows:
Creation: In this first stage, an artist, writer,
editor, or filmmaker creates new content using existing material as a basis or
by generating entirely new content.
Storage: Next, the new content is stored on a file
server on the network or on a tape of some sort.
Delivery: In a few limited formats
Lost and forgotten: Sadly, the disposition of most
content is to be relegated to a hard drive and forgotten. When the content's
creator leaves the firm or is promoted, the content often becomes abandoned and
Creation - as before
Storage - For us, this content would typically
directed for storage on a hard drive on a RAID device, with an archive on tape,
or preferably on an optical jukebox.
Delivery - In this stage, the client (either
internal or external) will receive the requested content in the appropriate
form factor. This may require generating a CD, DVD, or VHS tape in many cases.
It can also easily be a streaming video using MPEG-1 or 2, RealVideo, or
another motion video format
Indexing: As content is generated and stored, it is
indexed according to various possible criteria called "metadata."
Metadata does not merely describe by whom, when, and how a piece of content was
created; it can also be used to interpret and catalog the content itself. One
common example of metadata used in a digital asset management implementation
would be a storyboard of key frames from a streaming MPEG-2 video.
Resale: Following indexing, an online user may
access the developer's content catalog to select existing images or videos.
Rights Management: At this stage, a new module,
handling rights to the content, now will filter or restrict the use of the
content by the purchaser/end-user. Rights management is not simply for external
use, however. It may be needed to restrict access or use internally as well.
This might occur, for example, with corporate information or licensed images
from a third party incorporated into the content.
Reuse: With a viable rights management structure for
digital media in place, the internal content developer can now research and
select appropriate content for reuse in new content. This represents
significant savings potential for users. It can also be a significant
"hassle"-reducer as well. Consider a corporate executive needing a
Power Point presentation. Rather than have to regenerate slide after slide, an
executive can now peruse the company catalog for video, animation, or simply
text content–all without having to regenerate the content.
Review: A final benefit of an online catalog with a
DAM system is the ability to review older content more easily. Outdated
materials can then either be archived off-line or otherwise removed from the
system. Needless to say, an optical library such as a CD or DVD jukebox would
provide a tailor-made integration with a DAM solution.
The North American Media Producer Industry employs 4.1 million media
producers and incorporates 207,000 media producing firms. The Media Asset Management (MAM) market
reached $654 million in 1998 and will to grow to $3.2 billion by the year 2002.
Enterprises that have already shifted to a interactive mode of digital asset
management have begun to manifest huge cost savings, increased customer
satisfaction, and expanded productivity by incorporating a systematic reuse of
their preexisting media assets. – this is a direct statement from the GISTICS
Media Asset Management Market Report, one of the few in depth research reports
available on this topic
The largest strength of the DAM market is that this technology directly
affects the bottom line figures. It reduces the per project overhead costs,
creates faster product cycles, reduces labor costs on complex projects, opens
up the possibility of additional licensing revenue streams, has been seen to
increase profit per employee and can increase company valuation 5 – 15 times.
It is no surprise that in spite of the high costs of DAM solution major
companies have begun to invest in this area with a long-term focus on growth.
Digital asset management (DAM) solutions have become essential products as a
federal mandate for conversion to digital format, revolutionizes this market
and propels product sales in coming years.
At the moment the media and the entertainment industry are the largest
clients for DAM. As for the other industries the challenge for DAM vendors is
to convince customers to purchase their products now rather than waiting until
they comply with the FCC mandate.
When we look at the
weaknesses of DAM industry we can very easily break them up into the following
The DAM vendor's scenario is
very volatile at this point. There are mergers and alliances and partnerships all
around which is a direct by product of the complexity of the solution. The need to interface with a number of
distribution channels requires the add-on features and functionality of a
number of 3rd party products. Very often in the IT world of specialization
one single vendor does not have the know-how to address this myriad of issues.
For example how to provide delivering content to literally hundreds of types of
devices that are popping up, like cell phones, Palm Pilots, ATMs, satellites,
broadcast cable, even video screens can be a challenge on its own
This poses a marketing
challenge. In such a scenario alliances
and partners become the norm. If we look at the major vendors – it seems for
every complete solution that they have implemented there is more than one
vendor involved. Whether it be on large a scale as CNN's implementation or a
relatively small print shop. Sony almost always leaned towards piggybacking
with some other vendor when it comes to providing asset management solution.
Artesia's TEAMS is however
a relatively complete solution but then again there is the issue of
customization needs. Unless a DAM product is customizable it is strongly
handicapped. This brings in the issues of maintenance, and the costs of
maintenance contracts and so forth.
As for the development
challenges, the questions really are how much?, how soon?, and how?
As the overview will reveal
this is an extremely complex solution and developing a package solution, will
pose a question as to which modules are absolutely necessary. Certain
customizations will of course be necessary and will widely vary from client to
client – however what should the basic functionalities be?
For a new vendor the
question becomes one of choosing a niche. It should be clear that an all
encompassing solution is beyond the scope of a start up vendor so what to
include, what not to include and the time frame of development are questions
that need to be answered.
The next problem for the
developers is the distribution problem – the sheer number of the interfaces,
which need to be able to use the solution, will naturally be a growing one. A
company may start with a basic desktop and web retrieval system and then over
time require other modes of distribution as well. Therefore the boundaries need to be clearly defined. Not so much as what can do with but more of
what we can do without.
Another area that may pose a
challenge is the intensive client interaction that is needed in the first phase
of development to do the needs analysis
- thus posing a problem for plans of off site development.
As for maintenance
challenges – this is hardly a solution that is sold in a box and walked away
from. Maintenance contracts will almost always be necessary thus increasing the
scope and time line of the project and the undertaking as a whole.
The icing to this piece of
cake for any new vendor is that there are plenty of areas untouched at this
point. Hence the possibility of finding a niche in this market and focusing on
that area may be a very good strategy. For example the small – mid sized
business arena is almost untouched by this industry. It is not that they do not
need the technology but that there are no existing solutions that quite meet
their budget and their needs. Available products are upwards of $50,000 if not
more and that is the plain vanilla type without any maintenance contracts or
customizations. There are some
individual graphic file management systems around but nothing that would in
anyway resemble a DAM solution. Hence there is the golden opportunity to create
a code product and develop separate modules and sell them as add on
Therefore the scope of DAM
solution, which maybe seen as a weakness can also be seen as an opportunity.
The other point to note is
that the general consensus about digital asset management industry is that it
is a growing market. Researchers estimate that the
paid digital content market will grow to $5.7 billion by 2005*. As a result of
the explosive growth of digital content, companies need to create, store,
manage and distribute their assets through multiple channels, while ensuring
appropriate levels of rights protection. This means the industry is still
riding the crest and is not at the top as yet – this makes it an ideal point of
entry for the new vendors as the industry still can accommodate new entries
without losing market share.
The complexity involved in
developing, marketing and maintaining a DAM solution brings in the requirement
of adequate technological know how. In order to handle distribution effectively
vendors often sense the need for alliances with other vendors. However this may
cause a loss of control over product as well as lowered profits.
The DAM industry is
relatively young and companies like Microsoft have not yet targeted small
industries and embarked on creating an out of the box product for them.
However that does not mean
that they will not do that in future. Large companies can come out with
products far quicker than small vendors. Naturally any new vendor product needs
to have a quick turn around time which means that the development time period
has to be an intense short period. However this is uncharted territory – a lot
of manpower, research and planning may be necessary before embarking on a
The general consensus is
that DAM is the need of the day, however it is not a $19.95 solution. Although
the smaller businesses need it the truth is it cannot often fit in their
budget. There is definite scope for new products in the arena but as most DAM
solutions go to show the development process can be a complex and ever
expanding sphere. This requires careful planning and clear cut boundaries for
any new vendors who seek to enter with their own product.
This being so, the question
now is – what should a DAM solution consist of at the minimum. Artesia’ has
given a fairly acceptable list: “import/ingest, index, search, modify, link,
export/distribute”. Along with these features another important feature is the
ability to customize. Since the asset management needs vary significantly from
client to client it is extremely important that the product be customizable. (A
look at Attachment 2 will give you the existing features offered by Artesia’s
TEAMS product – one of the few good end to end solutions offered in the
So the mood is one of
cautious optimism. There is much growth in this industry and the right product,
placed properly could definitely serve both client and vendor needs.