It is interesting to see that the vendors of cloud-sync products are getting inspiration from the DAM industry. Box took a major step in the direction of DAM when they introduced metadata for their Business Plus and higher plans. As the CEO of a Digital Asset Management company, I see many exciting possibilities with this in the future.
Can you now make do with just a cloud-file-sync solution - making expert DAM software redundant?
The one big difference you must understand
There is a fundamental difference between cloud-sync products and a Digital Asset Management system that you need to understand. It is such a fundamental design decision that it affects all parts of the products and the user experience, and creates a big gap between the two types of systems.
- Cloud-sync products are centered around users, and their collections of files. By default, when you save something into your sync folder, it stays private. You can choose to put it into a shared folder, or sending individual share emails to that file when you want to override the systems default.
- DAM products are centered around assets. When something is stored in a DAM, it is shared by default. You can of course restrict access, and have private areas in your DAM, but your DAM exists to maintain a large collection of information and provide an easy access point to that for large groups of users.
When someone tells you "it's in the DAM", you know you can find it. You won't have to ask if they shared it with you, or dig through your email to find that share link they sent you months ago.
DAM's specialized user experience
Put simply, the two classes of products are designed for different purposes. And this purpose affects the core user experience of each product.
- Cloud-sync products assume you know your content and understand the folder structures. After all, you created it right? They give you lots of flexibility in how you organize and manage your content.
- DAMs assume you need help finding content, because you only created a very small part of the content in the DAM. The main value is in finding content others contributed. It therefore has tools to help you create a common structure over all of this information, and quickly navigate vast amounts of content to find exactly what you're looking for.
By assisting users in classifying information when submitting to the DAM, enforcing common taxonomies, and providing user friendly interfaces that lets you both explore and do specific searches, you'll find it is way easier to get an overview and find stuff in a well organized DAM.
Also, DAMs let you create branded portals to make your content easily accessible to anyone outside of your organization. Good DAMs have search-engine optimized portals, so that your content is effectively crawled and indexed by Google, Bing, and their likes.
Where to next?
Any company that is serious about content production needs both a good cloud-sync product and a Digital Asset Management system. (At least, let's get rid of those old things called file servers once and for all!) The future will bring very interesting synergies between DAM and cloud-sync products. Trust me on that.