I saw this thought provoking article by David Diamond in CMS Wire, “5 Reasons Why DAM is No Photoshop” (read it here) and wanted to share some of my thoughts. We both agree that DAM is no Photoshop, and I am sure even more reasons could be listed. However, I am curious as to why the comparison of DAM to PhotoShop? Is it to show how DAM has missed the mainstream boat, why DAM has not evolved into “SharePoint for the masses”? (although Microsoft would like to see it that way…)
I think there are many factors in play. PhotoShop is tool for creatives – highly flexible and complex, not intuitive, too many buried menus, hard to discover capabilities and a significant learning curve. And yet, as you point out it has become the leader. It also caters to a highly skilled professional market. Other Photoshop-like systems are out there to address the non-professionals, freeware like Paint.net, photo editing tools and even mobile apps. In the world of DAM there is not a professional community per se, few organizations have identified roles for DAM Managers and those who use DAM are frequently the casual user or consumer of content. And as you know DAM can mean anything and everything, the lack of or continually expanding definition has perplexed the industry for a while.
That said, your points are valid. There is a bit of schizophrenia in DAM. On one side we work with the creatives managing assets, workflow, work-in-progress all those things that are not part of the core competency of tools such as Photoshop. On the other side are business, marketing, operations and delivery departments all interacting with digital assets and DAM. Digital assets are aggregated from other sources such as stock photos and agencies, requring usage and rights management. Assets are repurposed, refreshed and reused as they move through their lifecycle, prepped, formatted and conformed to the for delivery and distribution to a myriad of destinations, platforms and devices.
How do vendors, even dinosaur vendors, drive innovation and communicate better? I think part of it is a focus on the core competency of what DAM offers with the added understanding that systems exist in an ecosystem. I see it as DAM providing that core infrastructure for an organization – multiple systems and people being able to securely access that body of well-organized, cataloged, indexed and findable content to serve any number of purposes.
Our experience has been that innovation is happening in the organization in partnership with vendors. Clever developers working with open API’s and flexible platforms interfacing with business, and creative systems; integrating with software to streamline and automate on-line, mobile, video, print and other delivery. The goal is not a complex, monolithic application geared only for professionals – like Photoshop – but a platform or infrastructure allowing controlled, secure access to the digital assets – the IP of the organization, integrating workflows and applications to connect people, processes and technology. This is what will help organizations be more successful as the digital world continues to saturate everything an organization does.