Tim's Weblog
Tim Strehle’s links and thoughts on Web apps, software development and Digital Asset Management, since 2002.

DAM, a market with no reviews or critics

It must be terrible to shop for a Digital Asset Management system. While the Web empowers cheap smartphone, fashion or book buyers – with independent coverage from press and bloggers, and customer reviews on Amazon – it’s not very helpful when you’re planning to spend tens (or hundreds) of thousands on DAM software and need to compare products.

The DAM market is a highly fragmented assortment (148 items on my list) of complex products, most of which can be complicated even more by customizing. It’s a niche market with few household names and a very long tail.

Even mentions of DAM products by technology journalists are rare; in-depth reviews in the tech press don’t seem to exist at all. And there’s no Consumer Reports issue on DAM systems.

The only solid in-depth comparison seems to come from analysts: The Real Story Group sells a 570-page Digital & Media Asset Management Research Report covering 36 products, prices (for the report, not the products) "starting at $2,950". (The DAM vendor I work for is not included, by the way.)

There’s no vendor-specific but independent user groups for DAM like the large and powerful ones for SAP or Oracle customers.

Reviews from customers are also hard to find. On Capterra’s DAM software list, most products have no reviews at all.

And this is not just because DAM customers are few and not too vocal. On the LinkedIn discussion “I've outgrown my DAM” (asking for honest feedback from DAM administrators), expert Ralph Windsor of Daydream comments:

“I know I can't say 'x provider is great, y are not' in a forum like this (even though I might think it) as that would generate all kinds of complex political problems when/if I have to deal with them elsewhere.

Even people at the sharp-end who use a given DAM system for their regular day job might not be keen to tell you it's not up to scratch on a public discussion group. It's not like buying some lower cost commodity item such as computer or even a car etc where there is limited comeback from the manufacturer.”

I understand all of this. But can’t we do better? Do the customers really benefit when all criticism happens behind closed doors, mostly off the record? This seems broken to me.

Update: Naresh Sarwan’s Review of Available Open Source DAM Software is short but quite nice. Being more open, better documented, and openly reviewed, can be an important advantage of open source projects. I think there’s a real chance for well-run open source DAM software to eat proprietary DAM vendors’ lunch.

Update 2: TopTenReviews’ Digital Asset Management Software Review compares ten DAM products.

Update 3: G2 Crowd’s Digital Asset Management Software section currently has about 100 user reviews/ratings for 24 DAM products, a lot more than Capterra.

Update 4: Dominic Grzbielok responds (in German) with VerDAMmt schwer, die Suche nach einem Digital Asset Management-System – here’s my summary in English.