19 Jan 2014

Enterprise Marcom and DAM

Most of the questions we get from Enterprise Marketing Communication departments is around how to use a Digital Asset Management system to serve their internal customers. There are several stakeholders here that needs to benefit from a DAM system and all need to somehow work with the same assets.

These stakeholders include:

Creative Marketing Staff Members: Need to work with work-in-progress files and leverage tools such as Adobe Creative Suite and research existing content, stock images, etc.

Creative Director and Managers: Need to have visibility into the work being done and provide feedback, give approvals and promote assets.

Other Marketing Teams: Need to leverage the collateral to create content centric marketing campaigns and create and enhance brand awareness.

Sales Staff: Need to use the latest and greatest branding and message across the board, leverage the most effective collateral for increased revenue.

Partners: Need to access the approved content for use in their own sales and marketing efforts.

When all these players try to access the same system for content, it starts to get challenging to accommodate their needs in a single system. The challenge is not just with the tools but it is also with the processes and the identification of assets.

For example, a creative director would like to work on projects and each creative staff would like to access their content with respect to a project. This typically means, all assets should be organized in a project centric way so that access to this content is very easy. In addition, previously completed projects become a good reference material for these teams to re-purpose content. Meanwhile, sales would like to see the assets organized in categories that are based on products, target industries, company size and many other factors that are very specific to that company.

In order for all these stakeholders to play nicely in the same system, a good metadata and taxonomy structure is needed. Most DAM systems offer many ways to tag and categorize assets to allow multiple ways of getting to the assets. These different mechanisms may include:

Keywords: This is the easiest to assign and search on. There is no hierarchy and there may be some controlled list of keywords. These keywords are typically seen as tags and most people starting to look for a DAM system  believe that keywords will be sufficient for all type of organization and discovery needs for their users.

Business Metadata: This metadata is very specific to the industry. A company selling electronics would like to specify details such as the materials used in the product, the voltage requirements, c0lor and many more attributes of their products as part of metadata, where as a book publisher will define their assets with metadata such as ISBN, author name, publication date, etc. This metadata is key for future growth of the system and typically the more the better. On the other hand, this is the most difficult metadata to make your users populate on the assets as the process of putting these in is very length.

Categorization (Taxonomy): This is almost like a tree structure of keywords where the taxonomy is based on product types, industries, target market segments, type of assets, etc. There are also standardized taxonomies available but typically a company specific taxonomy needs to be built.

Folders: This is how people typically visualize files and work with them. Since everyone who has worked with a PC is already familiar with this structure, this is the easiest way to structure assets and to present them. However, the limitations of folders are quite significant as users tend to place assets at a single location based on how they per sieve what that asset is. If you ask a creative staff about a Photoshop file, they will say that it is for Project X and if you ask the same question to a marketing person, they will indicate that it is for campaign Y and finally if you ask the sales staff, they will say that it is for Z type of customers.

Facets: Facets are a search concept where search results are grouped based on pre-determined groupings for quick identification and classification of content. The best example to this is the Amazon’s seach feature where the right side of the screen shows you a breakdown of your search results based on price, average customer rating, color, etc. Facets are almost a dynamic categorization but it is driven by business metadata.

The above are what we typically see in the DAM industry as the mainstream features and functions of the DAM systems. Some systems have all of the above features and some have a subset. As the technology changes and systems adopt, we will see additions to the above.

Now, here is the problem. How do you leverage the discovery and identification features of DAM systems to meet the needs of all stakeholders? This is the big question and answering this correctly impacts the success of your DAM initiative.

Our experience has shown us that the choice of the strategy and the answer to the above question is not an exact science and there is always room to improve and tweak things as the systems evolve and people adopt.

We will provide examples and suggestions in the upcoming Blog post to answer the question we have posed here.