What is Digital Asset Management?
Digital asset management (DAM) is a process for organizing, storing and retrieving rich media and managing digital rights and permissions. Rich media assets include photos, music, videos, animations, podcasts and other multimedia content. A DAM will allow you to take control of how assets are catalogued, managed, and accessed within a single repository.
DAM as a technology strategy is as important as project management and communication – it’s critical from an operational sense. With digital files more and more the norm in content management, having a DAM system in place is essential for most companies. Using DAM effectively can deliver knowledge and measurable cost savings, and offers value to your digital strategy.
Why does a company need a DAM?
One of the biggest struggles of marketing and communications teams is the assembling of digital content, managing the workflow and approval process, and then determining how that content will be shared, distributed, or published. If your marketing team does not work in a centralized fashion then you run the risk of wasting time locating assets, delaying opportunities to share them, or quite possibly delivering the wrong or outdated version content.
To avoid these problems the deployment of a Digital Asset Management solution (DAM) will allow you to take control of how assets are catalogued, managed, and accessed within a single repository. It is your single source of truth.
Is there an ROI with a DAM?
The average company loses thousands of dollars per year wasting time trying to locate assets and this does not include the potential of rights management violations that can cause lawsuits. There could be an ROI on IT investment, limiting personnel or hardware resources, especially when selecting a SaaS solution. The reality is you can not afford to not have some type of DAM in place.
What is important to my company?
To determine which features are important, you need to consider your workflows and overall content strategy. You should examine your current use cases for handling digital content. Below are some workflows to consider.
Is Speed an issue, do you need to quickly locate images and videos for various marketing campaigns or social media?
Are you currently browsing through folders and waiting for thumbnails to load or even worse-wait several minutes for a file to open from the shared drive, just to find out it was not the one you really wanted. A DAM should make your content searchable and quickly viewable. Would searching the words spoken in a video help?
Do you work collaboratively?
Collaborative workflows are a huge benefit with a DAM. Depending on your role of marketer, creative, photo editor or media editor, the campaign elements can be accessed, edited, versioned, commented on and approved then distributed in a repeatable workflow process.
Who is using what files and do they have your permission?
Do you know who is using what assets and where they are using them? Release forms or contracts can be attached to files for rights management. Sensitive material may be restricted for certain uses. Images with limited usage can be set to expire. Keeping track of your content can avoid embarrassment or lawsuits.
Do you have multiple copies of the same files?
A DAM helps in the reduction of duplicate photos and other assets. Without the deployment of a centralized system, assets live on file servers, drives, disc media, or more often personal computers. There is no way to avoid or even know if there are multiple copies of the same file. A DAM should be able to identify duplicate files automatically.
Is brand control important?
How do you make sure the team is using the right digital asset? With a shared file server, you don’t. If it takes someone too long to find content on the shared drive, they might just use what they can find on their computer or email. With a DAM you can make sure only the most recent version is available for your reps in the field and you can keep track of previous versions for historical context.
Are your digital assets backed up?
Data security problems are eliminated with a DAM. A central repository can be easily backed-up. If you choose a SaaS model, your vendor should be keeping multiple copies of your data.
SaaS vs. On premise license
There are many factors why companies decide to go with a SaaS (Software-as-a Service) solution. Predictable lower costs are compelling. In today’s economy most companies are downsizing IT staffs. The upfront hardware and software costs are eliminated when going hosted and the ramp-up time is usually much faster than implementing in-house solutions. SaaS services are completely fault-tolerant and should offer 24×7 support for end users. Some companies have trouble offering such a high level of support to their internal users. A SaaS environment could make it easier to share assets among offices or even globally without having a potential security risk on an internal corporate network.
If your company has an IT department that prefers to keep technology solutions in-house and they are responsive to your needs, an on premise solution might make sense. Companies with large videos to manage might prefer to keep assets locally to avoid Internet upload/download speed restrictions.
What are important questions to ask a vendor?
Most DAMs have similar tools, so you need to determine what makes a particular vendor stand out.
Support can be a huge differentiator. DAM is a commitment and you want a vendor who will offer you assistance in not only deployment but with best practices. Will the vendor assist in loading your legacy files? Do you get a live person if you do have a problem or question or do you fill out a form and wait a day or two for a response?
A vendor should be able to provide customer references or use cases. Ask how long customers typically stay with the vendor. How long has the vendor been providing DAM services or solutions? Is DAM their core business?
Determine if DAM is right for your company and how it will add value with efficiencies and cost. Consider the use cases and ask vendors to demo for your use cases and ideally provide some sample content. DAM streamlines your business processes and will be a worthwhile investment.
Rande Anmuth Simpson
Director of Sales