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Beyond the digital asset management database

Metadata and other data management considerations

While Digital Asset Management database structure is important, other data management considerations are equally critical. Especially as the volume of, and applications for, visual and multimedia data like video, audio and photography continues to grow. The use of these files was once quite limited to experienced creative users working in news, publishing or advertising. These days, many large corporations and other organizations are facing a deluge of digital multimedia files being created and used by novice users of all kinds.

Consequently, it’s becoming more of a challenge and a necessity to ensure that the data management is well-controlled and also delivers downstream benefits like automation, reporting and analytics. Whatever features are desired, a wide range of technology options are available, including cloud solutions and “lite” systems for more basic needs. Relational databases like SQL together with transport tools like XML can create powerful systems that make DAM databases really work across an enterprise content ecosystem.

Yet it takes more than great systems to make sure these digital files truly do become and remain “assets” as they are referred to. The right database structure and other technology considerations are important, but the real value is added through sound data management.

Data Management Considerations for Digital Multimedia Assets

Perhaps the most critical data management requirement is to define a minimum acceptable data set for each asset. That information includes metadata like modification history, file size, file type (e.g., image, video, audio clip), source, description and tags.

From the user’s perspective, tags and descriptions may be the most important metadata  since it determines how easily they will find files with the right context, and how many results they will get. From a data management perspective, tags can be a challenge since they require human judgment and interpretation. We see too many organizations invest significant time and money in DAM and other enterprise content management technology, and then give little or no thought to metadata. It’s important to either train and guide people within the organization, or get outside help from companies like ours that specialize in metadata and other information curation services.

You can take a look at stock photography providers like Getty Images for some ideas, although even these professional organizations whose business model is based on digital assets don’t always do such a great job. For example, the following image was given the general description of “Business Talks”:

metadata for digital assets

However, more descriptors – perhaps like “diverse professionals”, “business classroom” – would make this image more discover-able, more usable and therefore, more valuable.

It’s about consistency and planning for how a digital asset might be used, and by whom. If you can’t control the quality of the data into the DAM, you will diminish its overall value back to the organization.

More Digital Asset Management Advice

We advise our clients of the following data management essentials for their graphic and multimedia digital assets:

  • Avoid bad data habits that lead to bad data by adopting and enforcing a controlled taxonomy or vocabulary to standardize common terms, relationships between files and other attributes. Without a consistent framework, no data management system will work as promised or deliver the expected benefits.
  • Capture data as close to the source as possible and then add and expand from there for specific functions and specialties like rights, inventory, circulation and usage.
  • Manage unique identifiers for each asset, correlating different sources of like data whenever possible. Build content relationships, taking into consideration user behavior, which assets are used most and how they are used.
  • Use data to curate, triage and prioritize your digital asset inventory, which will enable more informed decisions about storage, disposition and access.
  • Leverage your data set to identify and automate common business and workflow processes.

Finally, we recommend that you look across your systems and standards to automate the capture of, or leverage as much previously captured information as possible.

DAM database structure is an enabling tool on the back-end. On the front end, it’s the data management and metadata considerations that will help you best manage your inventory of digital multimedia files and enable your users to work with them as efficiently as possible. Because DAM is not a barrier but an enabling tool that could be part of your enterprise content management strategy and requirements.

Learn more about LAC Group’s Digital Asset Management services or contact us for metadata or other data management questions or requests.

Rob Corrao
Rob Corrao is CEO at LAC Group and is responsible for business operations and integration of all company service lines, mergers and acquisitions.