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DAM takes on many roles

This article appears in the issue October 2009, [Vol 18, Issue 9]
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The market for digital asset management (DAM) solutions remains robust, driven by increasing demand for rich media on Web sites, for marketing materials and in technical documentation. Ideally, assets for those purposes are managed centrally and published as needed to different destinations. "DAM solutions are extending both upstream and downstream," says Melissa Webster, program VP for content and digital media technologies at IDC. "It’s less and less about the repository and more about the workflow."

The annual market stands at about $600 million, and historically has posted double-digit growth. GSD&M Idea City is a full-service advertising agency with such high-profile clients such as AARP, American Red Cross, BMW, John Deere and L.L. Bean. Based in Austin, Texas, the company’s staff of 450 includes a large creative and studio art department.

The company used a cumbersome, paper-based photography tracking system listing the photographer, customer and other information about the asset. Employees had to leave their desks to retrieve the CD or other medium on which the archived working file was stored. If a piece of artwork could not be found, it might have to be recreated, adding more agency costs and time to the project.

After deciding to move to a digital asset management system, GSD&M Idea City formed a search team consisting of heads of several departments, including creative services departments and IT. "This was not an IT initiative," says Lisa McIntyre, digital asset management librarian at GSD&M Idea City. "We wanted buy-in from other potential users of the system." The company then narrowed down the choices to three vendors that included both pure-play DAM products and enterprise content management (ECM) systems.

Site visits

Each of the finalists made on-site visits as the last stage of the search process. "We worked through several scenarios to make sure the software could do what we wanted," McIntyre says. "We did not want to change our work processes, just the means through which we accomplished the work." At the completion of the evaluation, GSD&M Idea City chose EMC Documentum Digital Asset Management solution from EMC.

Attractive features

An important capability was EMC’s extensibility. "We were able to put DAM into play right away, but we can also broaden into content management and records management if we want," McIntyre explains.

Integration with other products was also a major consideration. "The software has tools that allow users to work in their native environment, which for our studio artists is generally Adobe Creative Suite," McIntyre explains. "The DAM system shows as a file share on the desktop, and users can continue working as they always have." Business users can search for assets from a browser interface.

Now that the system is in place, users can find their assets much more quickly, and search criteria can

be used to locate files instantly. "Archiving used to take two days and now has been reduced to just one afternoon," McIntyre adds.

GSD&M Idea City is also working on an integration with SharePoint to allow a job jacket to be created in the DAM system when a JobSite collaborative workspace is created. "Eventually we hope for a seamless environment that draws from multiple repositories through a single interface," McIntyre adds.

For companies that anticipate needing an ECM system along with their DAM repository, a platform such as EMC’s offers a good path. "We can provide a unified system from day one," says David Mennie, senior product marketing manager at EMC. "Customers can have one system for the rich media, Web content management and enterprise content management, rather than silos."

In addition, EMC’s platform has some unique capabilities, adds Mennie. For example, a 3-D image solution provided by an EMC partner and incorporated into the platform can unlock computer-aided design (CAD) files in 80 different formats. That ability is helpful for creating marketing collateral, technical publications and maintenance manuals that need to include 3-D interactive models, animations or views of consumer products, as well as more complex structures such as airplane landing gear.

Rich media assets

UNICEF was founded by the United Nations in 1946 to help save, protect and improve the lives of children through immunization, education, healthcare, nutrition, clean water and sanitation. It delivers those services and material resources on a regular basis, and responds to emergencies throughout the world.

The UNICEF Web site is the primary means of conveying information about activities in which the organization is involved. With nearly 200 offices operating in 156 countries, and fundraising partner organizations in 36 industrialized countries, UNICEF has deployed a Web content management (WCM) system that allows distributed editing and publishing of content, and localization of field office Web sites.

As rich media, particularly video, became more prevalent, UNICEF also saw a need for a DAM system that could help staff members deal more effectively with the increasing number of digital assets.

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