The exponential growth of digital assets in large and small organizations makes it more difficult to find what you need when you need it. SAP Digital Asset Management (based on OpenText Media Management) is the proven and tested enterprise Digital Asset Management (e-DAM) solution from SAP.
With this initial blog post on the topic I intend to highlight how the current release of SAP Digital Asset Management, let’s you connect centrally managed, rich media assets (pictures, videos, audio, PDFs, Adobe InDesign or Illustrator files etc) to master data and business processes that is under the the control of SAP business suite applications, such as SAP ERP or CRM. This allows one consistent view of content/assets combined with the business objects to which these relate; A critical component of a sustainable approach to unlock the value of all digital assets within a company. I.e. digital assets should be contextualized in that they are connected to the business objects to which they really belong – they should not be locked in to an information silo system where you just have the media files and their obvious technical attributes, but then still lacking the so critical business context.
One typical example of where this is highly important is the area of product information management (yet another good example is campaign management – but more about that in a later post…). So in CRM you have products (or in ERP, Materials or Articles) that holds a lot of critical master data like, product classifications, grouping, descriptions (long, short), validity dates etc. along with other information like pricing information, bundling information and so on. However, this is still in most companies just a fraction of the information that you need to market, sell and support the product: You also need to consider your digital asset “files” relating to the product: Product pictures (typically in several different resolutions and versions for different sales/marketing channels), Product Information or Specification sheets, demonstration videos, marketing videos, etc. etc. Companies today recognize that they need to manage these valuable digital assets in some way and then end up with dumping them into a content management or in best case a digital asset management (DAM) system. What then normally happens is that you end up with you content being disconnected from the real product data sitting in different systems. Best case you can find which media assets relate to a particular product by searching in the DAM system, assuming that the user that uploaded the assets named them with a reference to a Product ID or description, but you still need to access a different system, and then often missing the view of the normal SAP business users, maybe only a specific department have access to the DAM system… Now as product data in CRM gets changed, products expire, are re-classified and so on… the disconnected DAM assets quickly loose relevance and users stop to use it because they can’t find the right assets. Maybe they then think that they should start to manage the product related rich media assets directly in a dedicated PIM (Product Information Management) system. Software is purchased, implementation project launched, go-live, then again after some time you realize that you potentially just created another information silo for another department, and maybe also the PIM system is disconnected to the master SAP CRM system. And Marketing have different products than sales or not to mention customer service…. Ouch! 😥
What you instead need is a way to reliable connect you digital assets to the correct business objects, allowing (controlled) access to valuable rich media files, directly from SAP CRM or ERP user interfaces; empowering the SAP business users by letting them access the right digital assets from the place where they belong. Still having centralized control by centralized enterprise digital asset management, where non-SAP users can see the same data, and looking at an asset they can also see the most important SAP object attributes (Product ID, Product Group, Description, Validity date…) as meta data of the assets. And they can rely on that information when publishing assets to support an Omni-channel marketing experience (more again in a later blog post), since any changes to connected SAP objects get automatically synchronized with assets in SAP Digital Asset Management (and vice versa).
The current release of SAP Digital Asset Management 7.2 (released November 2013 from SAP) makes this new paradigm come true with a productized integration component (called DAMLink) that provides an integration framework that allows any rich media assets that are managed in central SAP DAM to be connected to any SAP business object. The integrations are deployed as ABAP based add-ons onto the SAP Business Suite systems, and for most part only depends on NetWeaver ABAP AS functionality (thus would support any NetWeaver based system like SAP CRM or SAP ERP or any of the Industry variants).
Finally now getting down to the details, the following capabilities are provided for connecting digital assets to your business processes:
- SAP CRM Digital Asset Management interface: SAP CRM users can search and assign, preview, and apply where-used reporting of digital assets directly from SAP CRM for Products, Campaigns and Marketing plans.
- Native SAP user interface integration: Connected digital assets can be viewed and accessed directly from native SAP user interfaces.
- Via Generic Object Services in SAPGUI or Business Client
- Via Generic WebDynpro component view
- Embedded in other views via CHIP interface
- Via CRM WebUI Assignment Blocks
- Event integration: Events that are triggered from workflows or processes in SAP DAM can be automatically delivered to connected SAP systems to provide push notifications or workflow integration into native SAP technology
- Generic SAP business object meta data integration: Digital assets in DAM can be assigned SAP business objects and attributes directly from a connected SAP system, such as from a CRM Product or ERP Material/Article or Catalog
- Automatic meta data synchronization: Any changes in related SAP business object data are automatically synchronized with DAM and the respectively related asset’s meta data.
- Security & SSO:Users that have pre-authenticated in a SAP NetWeaver based system and also have permissions within DAM can directly access the DAM assets and UI – but still with enforced user level permissions and authorizations
The screenshots below show these capabilities out of the example of the same product related picture asset being centrally managed in SAP Digital Asset Management where SAP campaign and product attributes can be accessed (and searched) in DAM and via search facets in Media Portal for the non-SAP users. And the SAP business users can directly access the same asset in read-only mode from the respective linked objects: SAP ERP Material via SAP Business Client, from the SAP CRM Campaign in which it was used or from the linked SAP CRM Product.
Since the asset itself is consistently annotated with SAP object attributes, that also provides the foundations to publishing versions of the specific asset to various channels such as email campaigns with SAP Document Presentment or exporting to e-commerce platforms for on-line sales and marketing (or why not leverage the product marketing fact sheets tied to the products directly into your CRM quotation process?!): You know which campaign, product etc that the asset belongs to (and you can rely on this information since it is automatically kept in synch.), so you can also know how to connect the assets to email templates and online product catalogs and so on…. This is thus the enabler for consistent omni-channel customer experience management as well as closed loop analytics to relate asset usage to for example marketing efficiency analysis.
That’s all for now. In upcoming blogs I will elaborate more on scenarios around integrated enterprise digital asset management, and also start to drill down into the technology supporting these scenarios. Stay tuned….
— Christian Askland