My first consulting client in 1998 was in an in-house creative services organization looking for a DAM system to manage product photography used in catalogs and ads. At the time there were some low-end, basic products and a couple of higher-end solutions. We chose the only one that met a specific requirement for mirrored, distributed storage. That solution served them well for about 10 years.

Today, it's a different story. Many of the early DAM providers, such as North Plains, Extensis, Canto, and Artesia (now OpenText) are still very prominent. But there are at least three factors that have significantly changed the DAM landscape:

  • Audio/Video--Though most DAM systems will manage audio and video files to some degree, there are now many systems that focus on Media Asset Management. These include systems of the creation, editing, and transformation of video for corporate use to systems used by media providers to manage global distribution of movies and other video content. Features include video thumbnails, format transformation capability, and sophisticated content search engines.
  • Social Media--The explosion of social media sites using video and imagery for distribution on the web has created a huge market for systems that can handle this explosion of content.
  • Integrated DAM--Most Marketing Workflow Management systems offer some level of DAM as an option within their systems. So an organization with a capable workflow system may find that their internal DAM capability adequately meets their needs. This is also true on the video side, where systems like Avid offer their own MAM (marketing asset management) capability for managing and distributing video.

So, what does this mean for in-house marketing services? Well, the starting point is still understanding your specific requirements, including:


  • Types of assets you need to manage--Images, video, audio, InDesign files, etc.
  • Functional requirements--Search, file conversion, distribution, workflow, etc.
  • IT requirements--Security, hosted vs. installed, platform, links to content management, etc.

Understanding these requirements will help determine whether a fairly simple system will be sufficient or if you will require a higher end system.


I've included some references below that provide lists of DAM providers that you can check out. And, with apologies to those many great companies that are not mentioned here, some of my favorites are:

  • Hosted Solutions--Widen and Major Tom
  • Mid-Range Solutions--Chuckwalla, Celum and Media Beacon
  • High-end--OpenText (Artesia) and North Plains

Again, these are just some examples. Check out the referenced lists. And, if you need help defining requirements or selecting and/or or implementing a DAM, Cella can help!