How do CM and DAM Differ?
Many companieshave a content management infrastructure in place today, but is thatenough to handle the needs of rich media content management? The answerdepends on whom you ask. Bock thinks for brand management purposes, ECMvendors may provide what you need. "I think the issue is what you aretrying to accomplish by managing rich media. What is the solution modelyou are trying to implement? The ECM vendors have some importantcapabilities and by the same token, independent DAM vendors have partsof the story. If you are only worried about stuff inside your company,then my take is if you have adopted ECM, then it will have most of whatyou need to do brand management," he says.
Steve Sauder, CTO andco-founder of DAM vendor North Plains Systems, thinks the two systemsare complimentary, not competing. "It revolves around [the] idea oflooking at rich media as a special purpose data type that doesn’t fitin the same mold as text data. On the other hand, there are otherthings that an ECM can do that digital asset management can’t do, likerecords management or email management. That whole thing is much moreoriented toward the general-purpose knowledge management space," hesays.
One of the major differences between the two systems,according to Sauder, is the way a DAM integrates with creativeapplications during the asset creation process, and once these assetsare in the system, the way the DAM handles large media files. "When I’mworking with very large images, something that would be used in amagazine, a CMS—or a DAM that is part of the CMS and integrated intothe CMS space—would give you a thumbnail and allow you to manage somedata about it and that’s sufficient." Sauder says that North Plains’customers don’t find this sufficient; they want more than a thumbnail."In the same way that Google Maps does, they need to [be] able to zoominto high resolution content in real time without downloading the whole60MB file," he says.
This becomes even more important whendealing with video files. He says a DAM such as his company’s productcan take high-resolution video and present it as a low-resolutionproxy. This enables customers to work with video files and extractkeyframes without moving huge files across the network.
Exposing Rich Media Content
To a largeextent, choosing an appropriate solution depends on whether you intendto work primarily with internal users or expose the content to theoutside world, for sales purposes or to share with partners orsuppliers.
Bowen says digital asset management covers the gamut,from creation all the way through storage and distribution. In fact, helikens the DAM process to a physical supply chain with analogmanufacturing on the left side of the chain akin to content creation."On the far right hand side, you have the store front. This is theplace where manufactured content will get consumed. In between, youhave a warehouse. This is a place logically where inventory beingmanufactured needs to be stored and organized to be made available justin time to the downstream storefront."
Bill Sheeran, director ofproduct management at DAM vendor ClearStory Systems, Inc., emphasizesthe need for DAM vendors to remember the consumer constituency when itcomes to retrieving and using rich media content. He says, "DAM isimportant to a small number of people—marketing, creativeservices—those folks who manage assets are a relatively small number ofusers compared to the number of users who consume content." He adds,"That consumer constituency has gone largely ignored. There has been alot of focus in our application about ability to manage asset. Most ofthat is meaningless to users. If I’m running a bike shop and I need toget digital media, I don’t care about permissions or extra metadata. Icare about whether I can find the content I need and how quickly can Iget it in the condition I need to publish it."
Find it with Metadata
Infact, the way the bike shop owner or the enterprise user finds thatrich media digital asset and makes use of it is related to the metadatathat was attached to the asset. Sauder from North Plains points outthat rich media assets are trickier because they don’t carry anyobvious contextual data outside of what gets added by the contentcreator. "It’s one thing to manage Word documents where you can searchon the actual content inside of the file, but there is nothing reallyhumanly readable inside of a tiff file," says Sauder.
Accordingto Bock, companies deal with this by adding metadata. "My take on thetechnology right now is that most of rich media management systemsrequire us to come up with ways to tag and categorize rich media beforehand," he says. "This whole notion of defining rich media in terms ofdifferent types of metadata … these descriptions of assets help us toorganize and find information."
ClearStory’s Sheeran believesthat the ability to categorize assets in this fashion and buildmeaningful taxonomies is one of the DAM technology’s strengths. "Thefact that rich media is visually-oriented requires that you need toprovide different renditions that make the asset visible to the user,"he says. This enables the user to access a taxonomy, which helps locatethe rich media assets and make logical connections.
Some tools aregetting better at automating the metadata creation process. Instead ofrelying on human key entry, Sauder says his company’s Telescope productlooks for information about the asset as it moves through the creativedevelopment cycle. "We found if you took digital asset management andinstead of making it purely an archive, an end of life tool, youintegrated it into the creative process at the beginning, each useronly had to add a little information and as it was going through reviewor approval, as those things are happening, the metadata gets picked uparound the asset and makes the asset more searchable. So by the timeyou are done, the [metadata] information is already there," he says.
Itseems clear that as more rich media content enters the enterprisecontent repository, it takes a specialized tool to deal with the uniquenature of this type of content. By their nature, these assets tend tobe large files, lacking a natural context. Digital asset managementtools can help deal with the unique quality of this content and keepcontent moving, regardless of the file size or type, inside and outsidethe enterprise.