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Do we need a DAM system?

Understand your options for digital photos and other assets

Companies that hear about Digital Asset Management (DAM) sometimes wonder whether they need a DAM system.

Since assessment involves a lot of qualifying questions, I thought I would address a few of them here and welcome you to contact us if your specific needs are not included.

What exactly is a digital asset?

A digital asset is any form of content or media formatted into a binary source, categorized into three major groups:

  1. Textual content or documents
  2. Images, which could be photographs, illustrations or graphs
  3. Multimedia which could be video or movies

Beyond these categories, the distinguishing factors include a couple of important caveats:

  • The digital asset captures information with value to the organization that’s worth keeping, using and reusing.
  • The organization has the right to use the digital asset. Since digital information is easily copied and replicated, this is an important factor.

How are digital assets used?

Digital assets are most often used in creative departments, yet digital assets have value and use in a variety of ways, especially in today’s web publishing and social media era (however digital asset use is moving well beyond the creative space into all aspects of the business):

  • Historical archiving purposes
  • Branding purposes for assets like company logos and taglines
  • Marketing purposes like websites, brochures and promotions
  • Sales purposes such as standard sales presentations
  • Monetization goals

The list could go on, depending on the nature and size of your organization.

What does a Digital Asset Management system do?

Digital Asset Management technology allows you to store digital asset files along with their metadata, or the ‘data about the data’ contextual information that can be mapped to a variety of searchable fields for fast, easy retrieval. These systems generally include security, rights management, support for a wide range of file types, advanced search methods and versioning capability.

What is the difference between Digital Asset Management and Content Management systems (CMS)?

Digital Asset Management focuses on the asset itself, including metadata or contextual information that enables logical storing and easy retrieval of the asset. Content Management Systems focus on integrating digital assets into content for publishing in the required media format, generally for web publishing though CMS can apply to other media as well. DAM systems store digital assets that are often used in CMS applications to create content, and the larger technology vendors include interoperability between them.

What does it cost us if we don’t have a DAM system?

Implementing a Digital Asset Management system can be expensive, not only the technology itself but the processes and people to make it work. Yet the costs associated with not implementing a DAM system can also be significant:

  • Compensation for staff and vendors to create and recreate digital files
  • Expenses related to the purchase of stock photography and other assets
  • Wasted time and productivity drains searching for images and other digital assets
  • Risk of copyright and other use violations

Multiply this by days, weeks and months over many employees and locations, and the costs quickly add up.

Should we invest in a Digital Asset Management system?

This final question depends on how many digital asset files you have now, how much your library is growing, how your assets are being used and what you are missing out on by not being able to find and use them. Many business functions are keeping their own DAM collections, as these files are used in marketing, sales, customer service, business development, product development, training and more. It could be worth the investment to consolidate all these silos into one system.

It’s often said that a digital file is only a digital asset when it can be easily found and used. Otherwise it’s just another collection of stored bits and bytes.

We offer a wide range of services, from needs assessment to vendor selection and contract negotiation to permanent or temporary staffing for any DAM project. And if you already have a DAM system in place, we can counsel you on trends and best practices to make sure you are getting the most out of your digital assets.

Phil Spiegel

Phil Spiegel

Phil Spiegel is Vice President of Corporate Client Engagement at LAC Group. Phil delivers insights and advice based on more than 20 years of media archive and asset management experience gained from companies like National Geographic Television, Corbis Motion, Image Bank and Getty Images.
Phil Spiegel

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