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Digital asset management turns the corner

This article appears in the issue October 2016, [Volume 25 Issue 9]
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For quite a few years, digital asset management (DAM) has been a technology about to take off. Many pieces of the puzzle were there, but they did not quite fit together, whether it was workflow that was not robust enough for end-to-end creation and distribution, limitations in managing metadata or the ability to handle video proficiently. On the user side, many potential customers tried to make do with basic content management systems or more rudimentary approaches such as file shares, rather than recognizing that their multimedia assets were a strategic resource and managing them accordingly.

Now it’s finally happening. The convergence of multiple trends, both technology-related and market-driven, is producing the kind of demand that is expected to result in growth of 20 to 30 percent per year over the next five years or more. Much wider availability of cloud-based solutions will bring organizations into the market that could not afford on-premise solutions or do not have the IT resources to manage them. The functionality of DAM systems has improved. But perhaps most important are the highly competitive marketing environment and the need for engaging and informative content, delivered consistently across multiple channels.

According to Research and Markets, the DAM market will grow from $1.42 billion in to $5.36 billion by 2020, which cites digital marketing and enterprise applications as well as the need to track digital rights. Frost & Sullivan also anticipates high growth, specifying that it will come not from freestanding DAMs but from systems that are integrated with other applications. That view is consistent with the concept that DAM system usage has expanded well beyond the earlier static repository or archival models to be an enabler for other applications.

Forrester Research defines three scenarios for DAM applications: an enterprisewide approach in which DAM supports multiple functions including sales, partners and e-commerce; marketing and brand management; and high-end production for entertainment, broadcasting and publishing (“Vendor Landscape, Digital Asset Management 2016”). The report also cites cloud deployment as a disruptive technology and notes that customers are demanding DAM systems that are not just hosted in the cloud but fully managed there. The field is extremely crowded and has shown little consolidation, although some leading software producers have acquired DAM technology to add to their product lines.

Inspiring customers

Homebase is a leading home improvement company that operates in Great Britain and Ireland. To improve the online shopping experience and make its site more engaging, the company developed “product inspiration centers” that present information and creative ideas about how to use the products sold by Homebase. However, managing the centers was difficult with the existing web content management (WCM) system; for example, the marketing team needed intervention by IT to make changes.

The company looked into some options and selected LiveContext 2.0, a DAM solution from CoreMedia as a way to improve both the customer experience and the processes used to manage images on the Homebase website. The CoreMedia solution replaced the existing WCM system. It is integrated with the IBM (ibm.com) WebSphere Commerce platform and the Homebase product catalog.

New inspiration centers were launched quickly once LiveContext was in place. The marketing team uses templates to post product and promotional information to the site, eliminating the time previously required for the IT department to process it. “Customers can click on an interactive image map to get further information on each item in the product grouping, with a ‘buy now’ button available so the customer does not need to leave the page,” says Doug Heise, VP of global marketing at CoreMedia.

The new solution makes it easier for Homebase to support its in-store brand partners with sponsored landing pages to promote their products, which brings increased visibility and another source of revenue. CoreMedia LiveContext can display product detail pages with additional information such as articles, videos, images and technical documentation. “When customers can do their research on the website,” Heise explains, “they are more likely to buy there.”

Positive results

Results have been dramatic, including a 36 percent increase in website traffic and a 70 percent decrease in the time required by Homebase staff to get new information posted to the site. Average order values have increased by 8 percent, and multichannel sales (the number of customers who used more than one channel) increased 60 percent. “CoreMedia’s technology processes images on the fly for every device, which improved the performance on mobile devices, an important channel for sales growth,” Heise says.

CoreMedia LiveContext’s integrated DAM manages images in full resolution and renders them for multiple channels, including print and online. Editors can access the entire product catalog directly from the CoreMedia user interface. Product information such as pricing and availability are accessed in real time, so no data needs to be copied, and it is always up to date. The DAM system contains image editing tools so that developers do not have to go back and forth between the DAM and a separate image editing program. In addition, it provides access to Adobe Drive, which allows users to place and revise editable text on images. “If a company is doing a product promotion, they can personalize it on the fly for different audience segments, regions and languages,” says Heise.

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