What Are Digital Asset Management Systems? Blog Feature
James Word

By: James Word on April 17th, 2019

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What Are Digital Asset Management Systems?

digital asset management

Digital transformations are sweeping across businesses of all sizes and industries, as companies adopt the latest technological advances in order to outperform their rivals and better serve their customers. According to market intelligence firm IDC, by 2022 enterprises will spend $2 billion every year in the attempt to digitally transform their organizations.

Of course, digitally transforming your business will require access to the right digital assets, which will require the right choice of digital asset management (DAM) system. But what is a digital asset management system exactly, and what benefits can it have for your business?

What is Digital Asset Management?

What are digital assets?

A digital asset is a collection of binary data that meets three criteria:

  • The asset provides value to an individual or organization.
  • The asset can be owned, licensed, or controlled.
  • The asset can be discovered or searched for via metadata.

Photographs, images, videos, text, graphics, audio files, PDF files, animations, and presentations are all examples of content that can be a digital asset.

As an asset becomes more difficult to recreate exactly in the case of loss or corruption, it also becomes more valuable. For this reason, many organizations rely on dedicated digital asset management solutions.

How can you manage digital assets?

Companies use digital asset management systems in order to take control of their digital assets and get the most value from them as possible.

Previously, DAM systems worked very much like low-tech filing cabinets. Once you purchased the DAM software, you would be responsible for setting up the appropriate folder structure and storing assets in the correct place.

Modern DAM systems, however, have become much less manual and much more automated. Through integrations with other tools such as project management software, you can define your business processes and workflows for creating digital assets. By outlining this structure at the outset, you can then automatically tag digital assets with the relevant metadata as they’re created. This allows you to easily find them later, without the need to edit them retroactively.

In particular, artificial intelligence techniques are now coming into play with cutting-edge DAM systems. For example, you can automatically tag all images of a certain product or person, detect objects, colors, and emotions, and even transcribe and search all words spoken in a video.

Digital Asset Management Systems

How do we use DAM systems to improve digital asset management?

One of the biggest pain points for managing digital assets is disorganization.

Files may be scattered throughout a single computer or (even worse) across multiple computers, making it harder for people to find and use these assets when they need them. In the case of highly specific requests, it can take hours or even days to find all the relevant files manually.

This lack of structure and visibility can also cause inconsistent branding errors and the use of out-of-date assets. Without easy access to the latest version of a file—and the reassurance that it actually is the latest version—employees are more likely to make mistakes and incorrect assumptions.

Modern DAM systems solve these challenges by letting you make fine-grained searches according to a number of criteria. Within seconds or minutes, users can view the most up-to-date version of the assets they need to do their jobs. DAM solutions provide the structure and consistency you need to organize and share your digital assets throughout the organization.

What are the types of systems available?

  • On-premise: On-premise DAM systems are the traditional model of enterprise IT. Your organization purchases the hardware you need for the system, as well as the software licenses for your employees. This hardware and software is always located on your physical premises, and you’re responsible for maintaining and updating it.
  • Cloud-based: With cloud-based DAM systems, your data is stored not on your own hardware, but on remote servers. The assets are then provisioned to you via an Internet connection whenever you request them. Cloud software uses a subscription pricing model instead of a licensing model, and you aren’t responsible for support and maintenance.
  • Hybrid: As the name suggests, hybrid DAM software combines the best of both the cloud and on-premises. For example, certain assets may need to be kept on-premises due to regulations or licensing agreements. With a hybrid solution, you can enjoy the benefits of the cloud while storing this sensitive data on-premises. With a local cache component, hybrid systems can provide better performance for teams that regularly work with large files.

What are the signs you could benefit from a digital asset management system?

If you recognize one or more of the the symptoms below, it’s a good sign that you could benefit from a modern DAM solution:

  • You take a long time to find the digital assets you need, especially if there’s a great deal of manual effort involved.
  • You’re stuck using outdated paper-based processes, simply because “it’s what we’ve always done.”
  • You spend a lot of time sifting through emails to find the correct versions of important files, and only specific individuals know the true story of any particular file.
  • You need to start collaborating with partners or clients in a different location, and don’t have an easy way to share assets with them.

Final Thoughts

DAM systems provide structure and easy retrieval for large quantities of data, making it easier for any organization to better manage its digital assets. The more information you accumulate, the more important it is to adopt a high-quality DAM solution enhanced with the latest AI-enabled search and tagging features.

In particular, DAM systems are a crucial tool for organizations looking toward automation technologies. Being able to supply the right information to the right tools at the right time is essential for large-scale adoption of automation within your business.

We’ve discussed what a DAM system is—but how do you choose the right one for your situation? To learn more, check out our free guide “Future-Proofing Your Digital Asset Management & Creative Production.”

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