I saw a lot of what the vendor calls a DAM which were simply an image viewer for individual use. Sure, an image viewer may help to manage your digital assets such as your family photographs. Once you really scratch the surface, image viewers have little or no ability to:
- Handle multiple users at the same time
- Create light boxes of assets separate from multiple collections of assets
- Collaborate over assets or light boxes with multiple users
- Handle remote access for users with full functionality off-site
- Handle versioning of assets
- Generate reports on assets and activity in the DAM
- Support metadata and different metadata schemas
- Handle parent/child relationships for assets
- Handle transformations (mostly preset functionality to reformat assets) or renditions of assets
- Be secure
- Be fully scalable
A DAM for business should be able to do all of the above plus a lot more. A DAM meant for business will need to be much more robust and cost more than a simple image viewer. You get what you pay for (most of the time). You may even need use an image viewer before uploading assets to a DAM or to help collect metadata in the interim.
Each DAM has its purposes and intended end user(s).
There is no one-DAM-fits-all solution available for all businesses. It depends on what assets you will be working with and how you are going to use the DAM within your business.
In a future post, I will discuss how to vet DAM vendors and pick the right one for your business needs by giving you various criteria to consider. If you need to pick out a DAM, I recommend you look at several solutions, do your homework and/or hire a consultant to analyse your business needs. Make sure the consultant has no ties to any specific vendor which may cause a conflict of interest.
If you want more information about DAM for individuals, take a look at The DAM Book: Digital Asset Management for Photographers (O’Reilly Digital Studio) which is very useful in explaining the DAM basics for individual photographers who need to keep all their digital photographs organized and searchable. The author, Peter Krogh also has an online forum.