Information is coming in many forms and being used for many purposes, resulting in many types of management systems. The differences may seem slight and some solutions also overlap, which causes more confusion, especially for people who are not immersed in these functions.
This article offers definitions and light explanations of the variety of information management systems now being deployed. It’s a basic primer, to shed some light on the subject for people who are uncertain about the differences but believe they should know, and so they never ask!
Digital Asset Management (DAM)
DAM systems are centralized repositories of rich media files like photos, videos and other graphical or multimedia content. The files, which can be quite large, are stored in a database while metadata such as keywords, photo captions and thumbnails are stored in separate media catalogs that point to the original files.
Digital Asset Management systems were once the exclusive domain of publishing and media companies, but there is growing interest now that multimedia files have become easy to create or acquire, and greater demand for using them in websites and social media. DAM systems provide an infrastructure for preserving and managing these digital assets, with search capabilities to help users identify and retrieve the ones that are relevant to their needs. DAM systems also offer a way for organizations to manage digital rights and minimize liability due to copyright infringements and usage rights violations.
Increasingly, basic levels of DAM functionality are being incorporated into content management systems and other file sharing applications.
Read about a DAM project we completed that involved video captioning and meta-tagging.
Content Management Systems (CMS) were developed to allow non-technical users to create, publish and manage website content. A content manager or author, who may not know HTML or other web technologies, could use the CMS to create, modify and remove web content without needing a webmaster. CMS features include formatting often based on templates, which can be approved by the organization for consistency. Web-based publishing features offer a more bulletproof way for content to be published or modified, without causing technical issues to the site itself.
While the lines between DAM and CMS are blurring somewhat, content management is focused on mainstream web content while DAM systems are focused on large collections of high-resolution digital images and videos.
The most comprehensive definition of Knowledge Management comes from the Gartner Group:
“Knowledge management is a discipline that promotes an integrated approach to identifying, capturing, evaluating, retrieving, and sharing all of an enterprise’s information assets. These assets may include databases, documents, policies, procedures, and previously un-captured expertise and experience in individual workers.”
In plainer English, KM is about capturing information as well as the insights and experiences of employees and other stakeholders, so that it can be shared and reused throughout the organization. KM systems endeavor to capture both explicit knowledge, such as procedures that can be easily recorded and passed along, as well as tacit knowledge, which is essentially in the heads of people based on their capabilities and learned by doing, less quantifiable but very valuable.
Click here to read an example of LAC Group knowledge services.
Records Management (RM) deals with the systematic administration of records and documented information for its entire life cycle, from creation or receipt to final disposition. A record is any piece of information, physical or digital, that proves a state of existence. Records are evidence of activities related to an organization’s legal obligations or business transactions. Records management maintains evidence as part of the business area known as Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC), which is focused on reducing or mitigating risk.
Document management allows for the storage and tracking of documents in digital format, to allow these files to be modified and managed by multiple users for some time. Document Management features include version control, check-in and check-out, roll-back to prior versions and audit trails. DM systems generally lack retention and disposition aspects.
These various disciplines illustrate how multi-faceted the big umbrella category of information management is becoming, and how necessary it is when information is a key to unlocking greater operational efficiency and competitive superiority. In future posts, we will explore and compare some of the applications and other solutions across a variety of functions and industries.