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When buying DAM software, don't gorge at the feature buffet

In digital asset management purchasing, vendors overpromise and customers overbuy. Companies should focus on the best technology fit.

BOSTON -- As companies consider their technology roadmap to manage content and multimedia, skepticism is warranted, experts say. Vendors often promise more than they can deliver, and wide-eyed companies often get roped into buying more costly software than they need.

Experts say the syndrome of overbuying is rife in enterprise content management and digital asset management (DAM), where companies may believe they need best-in-class features to handle new capabilities like managing video. But in fact, they often need only "good-enough software" that they can expand on, said experts at the Gilbane Content and Digital Experience conference in Boston last week.

"There is a 'reality spectrum,'" said Tony Byrne, president and founder of The Real Story Group, an IT research and consulting firm in Olney, Md., during a keynote session. "There are vendors who say what their products can do, then there is what the products can really do, and then there is customers' ability to exploit the capabilities of that technology to get business value."

Companies should focus on how to extract that value, he said, instead of looking for the richest feature set they can find. Rich feature sets often spell cost and complexity, which can send executives approving these purchases -- and users who have to contend with complex interfaces and non-intuitive features -- running for the hills.

DAM software vs. WCM software

Part of the confusion in purchasing appropriate technology has to do with the fact that the digital asset management and the Web content management (WCM) software markets overlap. Although DAM software manages rich-text media -- audio files, video, photos -- Web content management surrounds the various capabilities that enable companies to manage digital information and publish content to the Web. Digital asset management can also encompass capabilities like video editing and digital rights management, enabling companies to remain compliant with licensing and get the most out of the content they pay for.

Dig Deeper on Enterprise Web content management software

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It’s refreshing to read your viewpoint, I work for Asset Bank - one of newest DAM vendors reviewed by The Real Story Group, who you reference here. Their analysis can be tough to take but as their name suggests they do a thorough job so their clients can trust their views. In our case they judged us as offering a great price and service but maybe lacking in features, going on to clarify that may be a plus as they ‘often see some vendors confusing buyers with over-complicated feature lists’. This is a good reflection of our approach, we aim to provide a reliable, easy to use system with excellent service. We’re interested in long-term client satisfaction so if we find our system does n’t match a client needs, we’re the first to say so.
One would think that idea of "good enough" DAM software might also extend to saving even more with just good enough consultants. As for RSG, consultants are also at a wide spectrum; but they don't know what they don't know so can only help from usually a narrow frame of reference. It's easy to consult and tell people what to do but rarely are there any published analytics on the efficacy of what happens after.