From digital assets to digital experience: What’s the difference, and what type of solution do you need for your organization?

Managing Digital Assets Can be Challenging

It’s safe to say that most organizations are drowning in digital content. Pictures, videos, audio recordings, logos, design files, you name it— they’re everywhere. These kinds of digital assets can be difficult to manage, and traditional content management platforms may not be much help.

When it comes to traditional enterprise content management (ECM), most of the clients we serve in the financial services and insurance industries have worked hard to ensure their enterprise content management platforms support their business processes and users. Those that do the best are those firms that “own” the information lifecycle: They provide a spectrum of tools for creating, collaborating, managing, and sharing content. Behind the scenes, all content is governed according to compliance or records management policy— from the moment it is created until the time it is disposed.

Digital assets have always seemed to be the exception. The files are often large, opaque objects that consume massive amounts of space, can’t be previewed quickly, especially so for high-quality audio video which is difficult to retrieve or stream from a shared drive or a traditional content management system.

Digital Asset Management vs. Digital Experience Management

Digital asset management (DAM) systems manage this content as objects in a library – with metadata about the file, subject, format, version, licensing, and much more. But not all DAMs are the same and neither do they offer the same level of scale and robust functionality for various enterprise applications.

For the average mid-market company, some DAMs may be enough for the basic needs of marketing or creative services teams to store some digital images, video and audio streams. But if your organization needs to deliver content from a large enterprise across multiple channels to create a unified experience for customers, you may need a solution that can perform at scale for millions of assets. And if your organization’s customers are the general public, or if you conduct large scale multi-channel marketing communications and social media campaigns, you need more than just a traditional repository to store your digital assets.

This has led to the emergence of digital experience management (DXM), also referred to as digital experience platform (DXP), or simply as experience management.

Digital experience solutions are next-generation content management platforms designed to serve the entire lifecycle of a digital asset, in the context of its business purpose. Functionality extends well beyond cataloging and editing digital assets – digital experience platforms aim to be fully integrated with your existing inbound and outbound communications channels— as well as applications that store and manage customer data. This is achieved by providing content modeling APIs or pre-built connectors to more common enterprise data sources.

DXM provides tools for composing, managing, and delivering optimized customer experiences that can span many channels as part of the customer journey. DXM platforms may provide artificial intelligence and robotic process automation capabilities as B2C marketing strategies become more sophisticated and complex, often spanning hundreds of customer touchpoints.

With DXM, a company’s digital assets need to be centrally managed to be able to be fed into marketing automation tools or digital experience and personalization platforms (the most common is Adobe Experience Manager, or AEM) that will provide customers with a unified experience.

Determining Best-Fit Solutions

Understanding the differences between DAM and DXM is essential to choosing the best-fit solution, as is understanding your specific use cases for the groups in your organization that use digital assets.

But for many of our clients, it can be challenging just to get a handle on usage scenarios and identify relevant solutions to address them. The table below identifies some of the leading contenders that many firms consider for a wide range of use cases.

Digital Asset Management Use Cases

Solution Use Cases Asset Uses Vendor Solutions
Manage digital assets for a small organization with limited resources and staff Logos, photos, videos for marketing, training or customer communications
  • Canto
  • Bynder
  • Extensis
Managing high-resolution image files with multiple versions and use cases Assets used in printed catalogs and large-scale presentations (billboards, banners, etc.)
  • MediaBeacon
  • Northplains
  • Webdam
Managing high volumes of digital video and audio assets where fast previews and streaming capabilities are essential Assets used for broadcast and live streaming
  • Agile Content
  • Brightcove
  • Kaltura

Digital Experience Management Use Cases

Solution Use Cases Asset Uses Vendor Solutions
  1. Managing high volumes of assets across many channels
  2. Creating personalized, cross-channel communications with individual customers
Broad social media campaigns where messaging, themes and imagery also appears in email and customer communications and print campaigns
  • Adobe Experience Manager (part of Adobe Experience Cloud)
  • OpenText Experience Suite
  • Acquia
  • Sitecore
  • Crownpeak
  • Nuxeo

We Can Help

Many organizations find that they’ve invested in a DAM solution that cannot adequately support the needs outside of a marketing or creative services group, while others overbuy a DXM solution that is underutilized. Given the significant impact and costs of these systems, it’s critical to choose the right system. If you’re considering making an investment in new or different DAM or DXM technology, reach out to start a conversation. We can help.

How to Select Enterprise Software

Rich Medina
Jeff Phillips
I’m a Principal Consultant, specializing in strategies for using ECM tools such as Microsoft Office 365 for information management.