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What does self service DAM and stores with self checkout have in common?


I was reading Web Self Service -trend in 2009? from CMS Watch and it reminded me of stores with self checkout counters.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of self checkout, you have the choice at some grocery store and hardware stores to ring up your purchases yourself with a computer instead of clerk where you do the scanning, paying and bagging. Some people go to this counter thinking “I can do this faster than the clerk” or “I don’t have to wait in that long line” because you are the clerk doing most of the work for your own purchases. Did I mention it ultimately costs you the same price? Meanwhile, the store gets to employ less staff to monitor four to six of these self checkout counters. This is a smart business idea for the vendor because they save money (but you don’t save money nor time trying to figure out how to use their system). The store only needs one person to monitor and trouble shoot the checkout process for customers. Do you see where I am going with this?

Self service DAM vendors get to do the same thing. Particularly, the open source solutions. Wow, I hope you like coding.

They have less people to give you any form of customer service. You got a problem? Take a number and go to the back of the line again. Slower or non-existent customer service is available for your self service DAM solution too. Where do we sign up for this awesome solution as a client or user?

If you are thinking “Who needs help with technology nowadays?” or “This is easy to implement from scratch without assistance”, you may want to re-evaluate what you are doing and who is going to use this ‘solution’.

This is why many stores with self checkout counters still have full service counters available and many people go to full service with the expectation that the store will do their part and ring up your purchases for you (and maybe even answer a few questions). Customer service sounds like a fascinating concept which still happens in some parts of the world. DAM vendors offer full service contracts for this reason where you get what you pay for. One way or another, you pay for customer service. If you can’t find any customer service, that is because you are not paying for it and neither is the vendor.

If you think you can go with a DAM solution alone (without customer service), go ahead and try. But when you have a problem, get a bottle of  aspirin before beginning to kick yourself. Did I mention you will end up paying the same (or more than full service DAM) in the time spent trying to implement and update the solution for your needs?  Consider revisiting the vendors that do offer customer service. You have a choice and be careful what you ask for.

Author: Henrik de Gyor

Consultant. Podcaster. Writer.

4 thoughts on “What does self service DAM and stores with self checkout have in common?

  1. Pingback: Digital Asset Management Blog » Open Source Digital Asset Management Software: Why Freedom Doesn’t Mean Free

  2. I disagree. You still have to pay for the assets (what it brought to the checkout), regardless of whether you pay for the ‘freedom’ of the (checkout) system or not. Either way, it is your time (with support) or MORE of your time (without support). However, I do agree with Richard Stallman that open source is closer to “…free speech, not as in free beer.”

  3. Henrik,

    Yes, but we’re talking about the software that manages the assets here, not the assets themselves (i.e. photos, documents, video etc.) which could be subject to all manner of licences and may or may not involve cost (e.g. an internal company DAM where users often don’t have to pay to use assets).

    The premise of your article is that open source DAM solutions don’t include support options. I’m not sure how you arrive at this conclusion, do you have some examples? I certainly know it’s not the case with us – the service element is an essential element of what we offer. If you are thinking about the lower end of the market where a customer is taking the view they can download some free (as in beer) software and put together a customised system themselves without any personal investment then that I accept that’s a fair point and anyone taking this route has to trade cash for their own time and potentially be prepared to get their hands dirty (depending on how much they want to customise the core app). In this sense though, the metaphor is more like DIY home improvements vs paying for a professional to do the job for you – whether it’s the right or wrong option depends on many factors that are unique to each individual’s circumstances.

    The point I was trying to make is that the free cost (as in beer) and the freedom (as in free speech) shouldn’t be conjoined in the way that they seem to have. For an enterprise implementation, the licence cost (if there is one) will be a small element of the overall expenditure and the key point is whether it’s possible to get access to the code and protect the investment made by the business in the event the vendor ends support or refuses to carry out an essential modification. An open source licence permits that, whereas with a closed source one it is necessary to construct complex legal frameworks like escrow agreements which are also expensive to draft.

    This article perhaps makes this point better than my post:

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