Understanding Digital Asset Management
Ever find yourself looking for the perfect image you know your team created but is now buried in a massive digital haystack? Feel like you’re drowning in a sea of digital assets? Buried under an avalanche of Word documents? Sinking in a swamp of product photos? Then it’s time to talk about Digital Asset Management (DAM) and take back control of your content.
What is a Digital Asset?
Before we can dive into how to better manage your digital assets, let’s take a moment to define what a digital asset is.
In the simplest terms, a digital asset is a digital file containing some form of content. Pretty obvious, right?
For business purposes, digital assets often include of the following:
● Branding Materials
● Text Files (white papers, slide decks, spreadsheets)
● Audio Files
● Design Files
As you can see, the term digital asset covers a wide variety of materials. If something is content and is stored digitally, it can be classified as a digital asset.
With the push to content marketing and e-commerce, even small companies are creating huge amounts of these kinds of materials. Keeping them organized and easily accessible to everyone who needs them can be a daunting task. This is where Digital Asset Management comes into play.
What is Digital Asset Management?
At its core, digital asset management is a way to create order from the chaos that is your digital asset library.
Rather than have sales, marketing, creative, and all your other teams creating digital content and filing it wherever they choose (often with bizarre file names that aren’t particularly helpful. We’re looking at you, Larry…), digital asset management allows you to keep everything in one easily accessible place with a library of uniformly named files filled with valuable metadata about what the piece of content actually is.
Think of it like a digital version of the old Dewey decimal system and card catalog from the brick and mortar library (remember those?) and you’re on the right track.
If all this talk of metadata and filing systems sounds a little scary, don’t worry – we’re here to help. Let’s break it down.
How Does Digital Asset Management Work?
Let’s start with an example:
Say Larry in marketing (you know, Larry of the oddly named files that no one can ever find besides Larry…) has created a new Power Point presentation on why creating sales enablement materials is better than creating traditional digital marketing materials. Larry has named the presentation file “SEvDM” and exiled it to the nether regions of some Google Drive folder where it is never seen or heard from again.
Now, a few months later, Paul on the sales team is looking to convince customers of this same point – but when he peruses your digital assets, he doesn’t find anything that fits his needs…because Larry’s presentation is nowhere to be found and even if he did find it, the name makes no sense so he’s unlikely to even open it and see what’s inside.
Paul then wastes valuable time creating an entirely new presentation instead of using the one Larry has already crafted.
With digital asset management, this issue doesn’t exist.
By simply using metadata, a uniform title format, and keeping the digital assets in one centralized location where there’s controlled access to the materials for all of your various team members, Paul easily finds Larry’s presentation, uses it, and closes the deal.
How does this happen?
In our new scenario, Larry saves his presentation content as “Sales Enablement vs. Digital Marketing” and includes simple metadata like “Sales enablement vs. digital marketing presentation, Power Point, Larry Stephens, March 18, 2020”. This file is saved with all of your other digital assets in your digital asset management system.
When Paul shows up months later, this file is much easier to find. A simple search of the content database brings up the title, and the metadata tells him this is what he’s looking for. This saves both time and money.
Now that we know how a DAM program works, here are just a few of the key benefits of implementing a digital asset management program:
● Organize all digital content in one conveniently accessible location
● Easily create and share assets with different teams in your company and outside users as well
● Create a personalized, easy to understand system for finding assets that requires minimal training
● Share digital assets across a variety of devices and platforms anywhere, any time
● Ensure everyone is using only up-to-date, approved marketing materials
● Gain insight into what pieces of your content are being used most often and by which people
● Easily figure out ways to repurpose existing content
● Guarantee assets are in line with current branding goals
If it wasn’t already clear, digital asset management is all about helping you streamline your company’s content workflows in order to guarantee that nothing is lost because of poor organization. This is why digital asset management is important.
The best part? Implementing a digital assets management system is easier than you think.
Who Needs Digital Asset Management?
At this stage, you may be wondering if you actually need a digital asset management system. And while it’s easy to just say “yes!” if you have a company with a lot of digital assets, answering some of these questions can give you a much better idea of whether or not DAM is right for you.
● Are your digital assets spread out between various computers, drives, servers, etc.?
● Do you have a disorganized folder hierarchy and no naming conventions for your digital assets?
● Is finding a digital asset akin to going on a scavenger hunt?
● Are you re-buying assets you previously purchased because you can’t find them?
● Are you the person everyone asks when they can’t find a particular asset?
● Are internal teams using old versions of assets because they can’t find updated ones?
● Is sharing assets is a headache because it’s a multi-step process?
● Is your branding inconsistent?
If you answered yes to any of these, then you would benefit from a digital asset management system. Digital asset management solutions can eliminate all of these issues (and others) freeing you up to focus on the actual business side of your business.
Let’s Just Do the DAM Thing
So far, we’ve talked about digital asset management as a philosophy, but let’s shift gears and look at how you can start applying these systems to your business.
When you get right down to it, digital asset management is another kind of content management system. Digital asset management software creates a centralized hub for all of your created content, ensuring that the creation, distribution, access, organization, and (depending on your particular business) monetization is all easily managed.
A 2017 report revealed that up to 70% of created content remains unused. This number should keep marketing executives and upper management awake at night because that’s money and time wasted.
Setting up a digital asset management system can drive that number down to zero.
Ready to get started? Let’s walk through the process of setting up a digital asset management program!
Integrating Digital Asset Management Software
The good news is you don’t have to build a digital asset management system from scratch. Digital asset management software is readily available and easily integrated with your current content management and many of the other systems you’re already using.
That being said, it’s important to keep a few things in mind when making the transition. Following these general tips will help ensure the move to your digital asset management software is smooth and painless.
1. Create a plan: While it’s tempting to jump into digital asset management right away, that’s often a path that leads to disappointment. Like all big projects, the first step begins with formulating a plan on how you will add digital asset management software to your current platforms. Who will be in charge? Who will handle what duties? What sort of taxonomy will you use? What’s the timeframe? The plan is the foundation on which everything is built – don’t skip this step.
2. Perform an asset audit: Once the plan is in place, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and figure out what assets you currently have. You’ll be surprised to discover how many things have been created and never used, but this is where you gather up everything so that it can all be migrated to the new system in one fell swoop.
Get everyone onboard: Talk to your teams and find out how they use your current digital assets. How do they access them? What’s most important to them? These conversations can help in not only prioritizing asset management, but in potentially creating a taxonomy as well.
3. Determine the objectives: What are the main goals of DAM implementation? What are the most pressing issues to resolve? Once you understand these objectives, it’s easier to prioritize goals and define success.
4. Take it slow: It’s tempting to think about rolling out a new DAM program in one giant launch, but that’s often more than most companies can handle. Rather than try to do everything at once, take a more measured approach. This will allow you to spot potential issues early on, keep your people from being overwhelmed, and allow for better communication with the DAM software team. Slow and steady wins the race.
5. Test and refine: Once the system is in place, it’s good to periodically re-evaluate how things are working. Can your taxonomy be tweaked? Are there ways that workflows can be further streamlined? Do more employees need access? Once everyone’s familiar with the DAM system, it can beneficial to sit down and figure out what’s working, what can be improved, and if there are ways to make your program more efficient.
Following these tips can help ensure your digital asset management program hits the ground running and achieves success.
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What to Look for in DAM Software
Hopefully by this point you’re not only seeing the benefits of integrating a digital asset management system into your business, but you’re also seeing how easily it can be achieved.
Digital asset management solutions are widely available and we’re happy to answer any of your questions. There are a variety of software solutions out there for you to consider – here are some of the key things to look for when you’re comparing options.
What Kind of Storage Solution Works Best for You?
One of the first questions to answer involves how your digital assets will be stored. There are essentially two options: on-premise and in the cloud.
At this time, most companies are opting for cloud-based storage. The reasons for this are plentiful, but some of the biggest selling points include:
● Eliminates the need to purchase, upgrade, and maintain hardware/software on-site
● Easy support for remote and off-site employees
● Cloud storage is affordable and easily upgradeable to meet your growing needs
● Dedicated team to help maximize your DAM program and troubleshoot potential issues
While the cloud option is the more common solution in today’s world, there are still advantages to going with an on-site DAM system. Notably, the on-site option allows for a slight increase in security. However, it’s also one more big thing to deal with for your IT team.
Hybrid solutions are also an option – which allow for cloud-based storage, with some sensitive or vital assets kept locally.
Is it Easy to Search for and Customize Files?
Given that digital asset management software is basically designed to make finding all of your digital content easier, this one seems like a no-brainer. That being said, some DAM software solutions work better than others and it’s worth taking the time to find the one that’s right for you, specifically.
If you select a digital asset management software system that’s not easy and intuitive to use, you may find your investment is all for naught as your employees will be less likely to use it.
Take different DAM software solutions for a test drive – companies will be happy to let you go hands-on with their product to demonstrate how it can make managing your assets easier and less time consuming.
Find a Company Who has Worked with Your Industry
It’s easy to assume that all digital asset management systems are essentially the same in the meta sense, but each industry (and each company) has their own unique needs and challenges.
Because of this, it can be helpful to select a software provider who’s already familiar with your industry. Not only can they help you avoid potential pain points based on their previous experiences, they’re also prepared to face whatever new challenges you encounter. They may already be working on solutions to problems you didn’t even know you had…
Be Aware of What You’re Signing Up For
When you’re finally ready to make a decision, it’s vitally important to go over the fine details of the purchase. Ask questions, read the contract, and get clarity on anything you’re unsure about.
Be sure you understand what the onboarding process entails. How much will the company help you with the transition from your current DAM to the new one? How does their support work? If it’s a software as a service situation, how does the contract work? These are all things to resolve before signing on the dotted line and locking things in.
If something feels off, don’t hesitate to question it. Any good DAM software solution provider will be more than happy to answer your questions and walk you through all of the details step-by-step.
With most companies now having a significant online presence, digital asset management is more important than ever. Creating materials that are only used once (or in the worst case scenario, never used at all…) is wasteful in terms of both money and manpower.
And yet, we’ve seen that more than two-thirds of created digital assets go unused. Or worse, your marketing, sales, and creative teams are using outdated and unapproved assets because they don’t know where to find the updated ones. This all affects your bottom line.
Fortunately, data asset management provides a wide range of easily implemented solutions that will fit any business – from a Fortune 500 company to a small operation where everyone works in a different part of the globe.
Ready to take the next step? Learn how Accent Technologies can help you make your digital asset management more efficient so you and your team can get back to focusing on the big picture of your business.