Wherever customers expect engaging media-rich experiences, headless DAM should be an integral part of the software stack.
But many businesses aren’t aware of the benefits of headless DAM: neither the internal efficiencies it delivers to busy staff, nor the powerful brand experience it drives for customers.
This guide explores the features and benefits of headless DAM for business sectors that process high volumes of digital assets, such as ecommerce, marketing and publishing.
The omnichannel asset challenge
Marketers, e-retailers and publishers need increasing agility to own the omnichannel landscape. Their sales, success and growth are reliant on delivering exceptional audience experiences across a burgeoning number of touchpoints.
- Marketers need to engage, convert, target and retarget prospects across multiple platforms and media – web, social media, email, print.
- E-retailers have to translate product information into brand experiences across different channels, whether that’s via laptop, mobile device or app.
- Publishers need to repurpose assets effortlessly across websites and print media, often across different markets and languages.
Rich and responsive content is key to brand reputation, customer loyalty and conversion. Not only does content need to respond to different platforms and devices, customers increasingly expect personalized and localized content too.
Add into this equation the multiple software solutions that organizations use to produce content – and the staff time required to manage them – and it is no surprise that businesses who oversee their digital assets effectively have a considerable competitive advantage.
Failure to deliver content on-brand, on-time, and on-budget can mean customers defect to rival brands. That’s why staff, software, and sites all need efficient access to assets… and they need it at scale.
For businesses with complex use cases – like ecommerce or digital publishing – traditional systems and processes simply aren’t set up to cater for this explosion in customer expectations.
These businesses may be processing millions – if not hundreds of millions – of assets annually. Which means ineffective asset management isn’t just a challenge, it is a significant business risk.
Many of these businesses will be familiar with digital asset management (DAM) software already. But not everyone has yet realized the benefit of headless DAM.
What is headless software?
‘Headless’ software separates the front-end interface from the back-end functionality, allowing applications to integrate more flexibly and effectively. Think of it like a screwdriver with interchangeable heads for different types of screw. The headless software is the screwdriver handle, consistently powering the work, whilst the heads adapt to different usage needs.
Headless software works through APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) that let different software components talk to each other. APIs allow organizations to build interconnected systems where information can be easily exchanged between tools. You can read more about APIs below.
Connectivity is increasingly important because organizations often have a range of different software powering their marketing and publishing activities. For example:
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to plan and push out emails
- Content Management System (CMS) to power their website / ecommerce site
- Product Information Management (PIM) system to manage information about what they sell
(Note, this list is illustrative, not exhaustive.)
Collectively, these different programs are called a software ‘stack’. This suggests a neat and orderly set of systems and processes working together. But this isn’t always the case. Often, staff continue to work in silos, using disconnected software tools.
Any processes that result in silos create inefficiency, risk, and reduced ROI. This is especially true in environments where software is intended to increase speed and capacity.
That’s why APIs and headless architectures are increasingly popular. They help free organizations from restrictive and prescriptive architecture, allowing them to build a bespoke ecosystem that seamlessly integrates different software.
In this context, software described as ‘headless’ simply indicates a high-level of compatibility and integration with other programs, thanks to APIs.
What is headless DAM?
DAM means Digital Asset Management. In a standard DAM set-up, users interact with assets through a front-end interface or dashboard. In a headless DAM set-up, they don’t interact with the DAM at all. They simply benefit from enhanced asset processing functionality within their existing software.
So how does that look on a day-to-day basis? And what are the benefits to business of using a headless DAM?
The three systems listed above – CRM, CMS and PIM – are likely to all have their own in-built asset library. This means that images and video will be uploaded to multiple systems, taking up valuable staff time and creating duplicate copies that make it difficult to maintain version and permissions control.
For businesses that process large numbers of assets, this represents a significant risk and drain on resources.
Headless DAM solves this problem by using APIs to integrate seamlessly with all of those systems. So instead of having multiple dislocated asset libraries, you have one master library that serves all of your software.
But because the back-end functionality is decoupled from the front-end interface, staff continue to access assets through the CRM or CMS that they’re familiar with.
This means that Mo the marketer, Pam the product manager, Esme the email specialist and Dev the website developer – working in different systems – all have access to the same assets, and can be confident that they’re working with the correct and most up-to-date versions available.
Not only that, but they benefit from a wealth of time-saving automations and workflows that let them do more things, with more assets, in less time. For example, automatic resizing of assets, publishing workflows, and collaboration tools.