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Make a DAM Decision


Digital asset management (DAM) systems are becoming a key part of marketing operations infrastructure. As marketing organizations work to keep pace with digital lifestyles, their communication programs have to move faster and connect to more and more channels. The typical marketing organization is now churning out assets at an unprecedented pace. DAMs are the central hub around which distributed marketing teams – as well as their agencies and partners – operate.

Evaluating DAM solutions has gotten tricky for a number of reasons.

  • There are more choices as the category grows up.
  • Boundaries separating DAM from adjacent categories are blurring.
  • Deployment options now include on-premise, private cloud and Software as a Service.

This guide will help you sort through the alternatives to find your best solution.


DAM: The Early Years

Flatbed scanners found their way into mainstream business use in the late 1980s. And, as with any new technology, when you solve one problem you often create a new one. What do you do with all those digital files you create when you scan images? Digital asset management systems soon emerged as the solution.

Early solutions from companies like Canto and ADAM provided a central repository for digital image files. Since DIM (digital image management) wouldn’t make a very good acronym, they settled on DAM (digital asset management), and a new software category was born. It took off quickly.

Based on the ruling architecture of that time, DAM systems were client-server solutions managed on-premise. DAMs were largely viewed as middleware that provided a place to put all the files that came first from scanners and later from design solutions like InDesign and Photoshop. DAMs were purchased and managed by IT.

DAM in the Cloud

The emergence of cloud computing ushered in a new era of DAM. Enterprise systems no longer had to be managed on proprietary hardware. You could buy software and computing infrastructure as a service. Marketers, no longer dependent on IT, could take a more decisive role in buying solutions.

As a result, DAM split into two categories of solutions: on-premise software and SaaS offerings. Traditional on-premise providers trying to provide some of the benefits of SaaS have created a third option – private cloud – by offering their single-tenant software in a cloud environment.

So how do you choose? Our four-step process can help you determine the best solution for you and your team:

  1. Uncover critical requirements.
  2. Set measurable objectives.
  3. Select appropriate deployment option.
  4. Evaluate the best solutions.

Read the rest of this article to get more details on these four steps AND access our requirements checklist to see how your preferred DAM vendors measure up in an apples-to-apples comparison.

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