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DAM and PIM: A Basic Comparison
If you look for DAM software, you will likely come across PIM systems as well because the boundaries between these programs are becoming increasingly blurred. Some PIM solutions incorporate DAM functionalities (and vice versa). One important thing they have in common is that both PIM and DAM systems provide centralized content management and make their content easily accessible to users.
But despite many areas of overlap, it’s important to keep in mind that DAM and PIM systems differ with respect to their basic purpose:
- DAM manages digital assets
- PIM manages product information
Asset Focus vs. Product Focus
In digital asset management, the focus is on digital files (in general) such as images, videos and logos. A PIM system, on the other hand, concentrates on product-related information. This might also involve photographs and videos but also includes other production information like text and technical data.
Let’s take a somewhat closer look by considering the definition of DAM and PIM software in detail.
What is a DAM system?
DAM systems are responsible for managing all the digital content of a company. There is no specific focus on individual products. Instead, digital asset management ensures that all relevant files including photos, videos, documents and presentations, are stored in a structured way. This is accomplished in part through the use of metadata. With the help of a strong search feature, every part of the company can locate files quickly and easily.
Two important target groups of DAM software are marketing and sales personnel. In these departments, DAM is used to save and organize content for branding and advertising and to deploy it in various communication channels. Special features help ensure that only approved and correctly licensed assets are used.
The Key Advantages of DAM
The key advantage of digital asset management is that it makes all assets easy to find and use. As a central platform for digital files, DAM eliminates redundancies and time-consuming search processes. The expense of duplicating or newly purchasing files that are in fact already available is also reduced to a minimum. It also guarantees consistent branding with the ability to assign permissions for specific purposes and to approve files for use. This is true even when external partners are involved in the communication processes.
What is a PIM System?
The job of a PIM system is to provide centralized management of all the product-related information used by a company (texts, photos, videos, supplier information, data sheets, etc.). These systems are also responsible for the presentation of product data in the various sales and marketing channels. In addition to print catalogs, these channels are often online shops, e-commerce marketplaces and social media platforms. But product information management isn’t concerned with digital assets that aren’t directly related to a product.
The primary objective of PIM software is to guarantee consistent, high-quality and correct publication of product information.
The Key Advantages of PIM
One of the key advantages of a PIM system is that it shortens time-to-market. All product data and associated information is integrated within one platform, allowing companies to react more quickly to changes in market conditions. Updates and product launches become much easier. Catalogs and product ranges can be expanded in a just a short time. One especially helpful aspect is that updates take effect across all channels in almost real time.
PIM is often used in connection with ERP systems (such as SAP). As a central data hub, the PIM system ensures that product data from the ERP is merged with information from external sources. This results in an overall increase in the consistency and transparency of product-related processes.
Last but not least, PIM software optimizes the customer journey by providing the latest product information immediately and in high quality. At the same time, a consistent brand experience is guaranteed across all online and offline channels.
What Industries Use PIM and DAM Software?
Although PIM and DAM software can be used in any industry, there are certain fields in which there tends to be a need for one type of software rather than the other. For example, PIM is naturally oriented to companies that have to manage products. That includes manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers from the B2B and B2C sectors.
A clear distinction should be made between these companies and those from the service industries, which include advertising agencies, the entertainment industry, health care providers, graphic designers, educational institutions or charitable associations. Organizations of this kind don’t have products, so PIM systems are irrelevant. On the other hand, there may well be a need for digital asset management in these cases.
DAM, PIM or Both?
To choose between DAM and PIM, you should first clearly state your objectives, then to define what sort of system best meets your needs. The checklists below will help you reach a decision.
When Do I Need a DAM System?
If the following items apply (mostly) to your company, you need DAM:
- You have a large number of digital assets – especially visual assets.
- You need an official, central storage location for your files.
- Searching for and using digital assets is a major part of your day-to-day work.
- You often have to share digital files internally and externally.
- Many employees (both internal and external) are involved in various content-related processes.
- Your brand communication spans multiple channels.
- You often use your assets in other applications, such as Adobe InDesign and PowerPoint.
When Do I Need a PIM System?
The introduction of a PIM system makes sense under the following conditions:
- You have a large product range with many article numbers.
- Your portfolio is complex and is frequently updated.
- A large portion of the product data comes from diverse sources.
- There are multiple sales and marketing channels.
- Short launch times are very important for your company.
- You supply your customers with a large amount of product information, especially online.
- All the parts of the company need consistent and up-to-date product data.
Combining PIM and DAM Software is Useful in Some Cases
If your company isn’t a pure services provider, you generally have a need for both PIM and DIM features. This is because, in addition to product information, you normally also have digital assets that aren’t directly related to a particular product. In this case, it’s not absolutely necessary to choose one of the two systems. Some combination of the systems is definitely possible.
If you’d like to use a combination of DAM and PIM software, the two systems should come from the same provider. Ideally, the two components will be based on the same platform and seamlessly integrated with one another. This is the only way to ensure smooth workflows without redundancies and discontinuities in the systems used.