DAM and BPM are Merging

Murray Oles, President, CHALEX Corp.
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Murray Oles, President, CHALEX Corp.

Digital Asset Management (DAM) and Business Process Management (BPM) systems will merge to become DAM enabled BPM systems by 2020.  A DAM enabled BPM system automatically manages the assets that are associated with each runtime instance of every workflow. One reason there are so many different categories of DAM systems today is because most are optimized for a particular workflow. These include brand asset management, library asset management, production asset management, media asset management, and enterprise content management systems. The distinction between these DAM systems relates to the workflow employed to populate, search for, and retrieve assets from the system.

“The DAM enabled BPM system authenticates users based on their role in a business process”

According to Capterra, there are over hundred DAM systems that are currently marketed. Some are freely available as open source software while others are rather pricey. The total cost of any system includes the cost to deploy and maintain it. This is where DAM system implementations fail most often. The configuration and maintenance costs are too high, and the juice isn’t worth the squeeze.

The DAM industry set out to solve the file management problem, and therefore, user authentication and permission access is file-based. Many first generation systems failed due to a lack of user engagement. Second-generation DAM systems added workflow wizards; hard coded processes for metadata tagging and approvals. The latest DAM systems have added cloud-based services. The focus of the architecture remains on file management, but the DAM community has shifted their focus to workflow.  DAM professionals meet at conferences all over the world to hear about new developments and share success stories.

The BPM industry has also evolved. Process improvement creates competitive advantage and greater profitability. BPM makes process improvement more measurable. The growth rate of BPM systems is similar to DAM, but there is a huge difference. ROI! DAM systems savings are based largely on the re-purposing of digital assets. BPM systems reduce cycle time, and cost while improving quality. The latter is far easier to measure.

Most BPM systems also manage assets, but they fall short of providing the check-in, checkout, and version control services of a DAM. Few provide thumbnails and previews for managing graphical assets, and even less offer robust DAM services. In the next few years the DAM enabled BPM system will emerge as the next generation solution for managing most business processes that involve human interaction and the secure collaborative sharing of digital files.

The DAM enabled BPM system authenticates users based on their role in a business process. Role-based permissions are assigned to groups of users. Permissions provide users with access to tools as well as process and asset information. A task performer needs less permission than project managers and administrators. Some user groups can manage projects while others can collaborate in secret, manage form-based assets, create projects, and re-assign tasks. In a DAM enabled BPM system a unique DAM service is generated at runtime for every project, job, and collaboration that is started through the process. The DAM is automatically configured to serve that type of job as it transitions through its workflow. When a user interacts with the job, all their asset comments, status changes, uploads to the DAM, tagging and versioning of DAM assets is recorded in the database. When an asset is loaded to the job, it automatically inherits all of the metadata about the project, the job, the task, and it time stamps the date, time and user interaction with assets. If the system is deployed to manage brand assets, job data will include the job ticket attributes of the product being produced.

For example: A system configured to manage the business processes associated with promoting a global brand may include unique workflows for packaging, promotions and event planning. The job ticket for each element will include the element ID, Description, Client, Category, Brand, Channel, Product, Part, Milestones, and a dozen or more fielded job ticket entries that define the what, when, where, and how requirements of the job.

Instead of having a cyber librarian enter all this data manually, the BPM system automatically associates all this data with every asset upload. The DAM service provides access to the assets as needed during the workflow. Asset tags and properties are added during asset review. Project assets are loaded once and will appear in the virtual job bag or case file based on the user’s role in the workflow.

Access to assets will vary based on the job status and user’s roles and permissions. For example, while the job is running, related assets are easily accessed through the assigned task. A virtual job bag/case file folder displays graphical assets as thumbnails and previews while application files may display a mime type icon and file name. The shared access to assets through the job bag or case file does not necessarily grant the user access to the asset once their task is completed. A user’s ability to search and retrieve an asset may be restricted to only the “Approved” assets of completed jobs. The process and the actions taken by the user determine asset accessibility. In the DAM enabled BPM system every project, job, collaboration and private user archive is a uniquely configured DAM service. The library of accessible digital assets grows automatically. Users may retrieve assets based on their roles and permissions relative to the assets status. Search tools can include project and job search, or matching search based on the fielded data and additional tags and properties that are added during the workflow.

DAM enabled BPM systems are the logical evolution of DAM and BPM systems. By automating the way metadata is associated with assets during the business process, search becomes intuitive and accurate. The DAM becomes an integral service to the workflow, and the resulting logs are a discoverable secure record of events. The consolidation of these two services is inevitable. The competitive advantage is simply too great.

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