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2019 in Review: Did the DAM industry live up to 2019 predictions?

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Kristina Huddart

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What’s your favourite holiday? Although it is quite an unpopular choice, mine is New Year’s Eve. It’s not just because of the countdown, the glitter, or the bottomless fizz. It’s because, as any good Scrum Master, I enjoy a proper retrospective. Looking back at the year gives us perspective of what went well and what could be improved on next year. It gives us a chance to reflect on how we’ve grown. We can also consider our mistakes and failures. New Year’s Eve is a time for reflection, but also for closure on 2019 and a view on 2020 with all the hope of improvement.

So let’s take a moment to reflect on the year in DAM. How accurate were these five 2019 marketing technology trend predictions?

Trend #1: Omni-channel Aspirations Exposing Divide in the DAM Marketplace

This prediction from the Real Story Group has certainly come true! The DAM Marketplace now has a tangible gap between the mid-range DAM vendors and the omni-channel, full-featured DAM vendors (see their logo landscape for 2019 here). The price difference of bridging this gap is also a bit hard to swallow! If you don’t believe me, read this very interesting article by Jarrod Gingras. And coming into 2020, this new Omni-Channel Vendor Map by the Real Story Group clearly shows a shift in offerings!

However, in his 2019 predictions, Ralph Windsor, suggested that many DAM vendors are still not differentiating enough and he didn’t expect to see much change in 2019. His prediction seems to be relatively true for the mid-range and simpler DAM vendors, who still offer similar products and functionality. Let’s hope for improvement on the core DAM functionality as well as additional innovation from these vendors in 2020!

Trend #2: Tracking Rights More Critical Than Ever

Again, the Real Story Group predicted that delivering to more channels (how many social media channels does your marketing team have now?) would grow the use-case for managing rights within the DAM ecosystem. I couldn’t agree more, but I don’t think this use-case is new! All levels of clients I’ve worked with (from government and charities to large corporates) have been demanding functionality for rights management in their DAM for many years now. As ever, managing rights metadata in the DAM is possible (if your company doesn’t have a rights management system) and reporting/analytics in DAM systems is improving, but I really want to see a DAM vendor tackling this from a more educated, legal perspective. GDPR rules mean that all DAM customers are now required to manage personal data in their systems. Don’t think you have personal data in your system? Please contact me before you have a data breach!

Trend #3: DAM Market Bubble Emerging?

Has the DAM Market Bubble emerged or burst, as the Real Story Group suggested it might in 2019? Not quite. Compared to 2018’s (Bynder acquired Webdam and Sitecore acquired Stylelabs) or 2017’s consolidation (Aprimo acquired ADAM), we didn’t see much consolidation this year. I’m only aware of this one consolidation in the industry in 2019: CCI Europe bought Digital Collections. Did I miss any? Interestingly, the DAM Market Bubble may just be a small part of the wider MarTech Bubble that ChiefMartec is watching closely in 2020 for its “dot-com” moment.

Many DAM vendors are still maturing out of start-up mentality or finding their niche after offering redundant services. And of course, there are still many vendors out there who claim to have developed a DAM system, but wouldn’t successfully pass half of the 10 Core Characteristics of a DAM. Let’s keep an eye on how these companies fare in 2020 and what that will mean for their customers.

Trend #4: Artificial Intelligence will replace DAM Librarians

IO Integration predicted that artificial intelligence would become critical for DAM customers in 2019. While I agree that most clients see AI as a major future cost-savings tool, I would argue that the technology is not robust enough yet. Yes, you should expect your DAM vendor to automatically OCR text in assets. But beyond that step, most AI autotagging or speech transcription systems are not yet at the level of sophistication that customers demand. DAM users expect a high level of accuracy and efficiency from AI autotagging. Most DAM users even hope that they can improve their AI solutions through some element of machine learning. Sorry DAM customers, you still need to hire DAM librarians to manage and enrich metadata on all of your assets to improve searchability! Do you think this will change in 2020?

Trend #5: Campaign Level ROI Reporting

What’s the number one question your marketers want to know about their assets: How well did these assets perform against the value we spent on production and media?

And what better tool to report on your campaign assets’ effectiveness than your DAM!?

Both IO Integration and the Real Story Group predicted that this would be possible in 2019. Thank you Sitecore for stepping up your game and offering content performance metrics across integrated channels! All DAM managers and product owners, in all industries, are getting pressure to prove the ROI of their systems to their leadership teams using this level of reporting granularity. DAM vendors would be wise to put more effort into creating easy to use analysis tools for their DAM systems which could automatically generate ROI/KPI metrics. Your DAM customers will buy more if they can convince their leadership teams of the value and effectiveness of their DAM, one of many tools in the MarTech stack which needs funding! Please can this be my wish for all DAM vendors to deliver in 2020?

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