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The problems every digital asset manager faces (and how to solve them)

Smart digital asset management has a crucial role to play in helping companies and organisations cope with asset ingestion, storage, distribution and re-use. But outdated and incompatible systems can make life harder for any digital asset managers looking to improve efficiency. Someone needs to give a DAM…

By: Lydia Bird


As the amount of digital assets companies and organisations create continues to surge, a digital asset manager has a tough job. According to Statista, global data creation is projected to grow from 64.2 zettabytes in 2020 to more than 180 zettabytes by 2025. Interestingly, just 2 percent of the data “produced and consumed in 2020 was saved and retained into 2021.”

Smart digital asset management has a crucial role to play here, helping companies and organisations cope with asset ingestion, storage, distribution and re-use. But even then, the efficiency of content and marketing teams are tied to the tools and processes they employ. Outdated software can waste valuable time. Limited storage can hinder archiving. In many scenarios, workflow problems are often tolerated instead of modernised and streamlined.

For example, Imagen’s 2021 Marketing Tech Report discovered that:

● 30% of UK respondents said that their biggest headache is files stored in multiple places
● 34% of all respondents in the UK (29% in the US) are using 1-5 different platforms to manage and share media
● 37% of US respondents had experienced difficulties with people using the wrong versions of files

What are some of the most common and most painful problems that digital asset managers face? More importantly, how can they be effectively managed or, better still, prevented?

An open access management solution

Access to a content archive is often a key stumbling block. This requires a diplomatic touch to ensure that (a) all stakeholders can access brand collateral and business video assets, but that (b) those stakeholders don’t accidentally overwrite/delete/modify the original files, or modify crucial metadata so that important search keywords no longer function.

The simplest approach is a cybersecurity-style permissions elevation, with different grades of account given increasingly powerful permissions. However, there are additional access considerations, such as the ability to easily share links to existing assets, an intuitive search mechanism, and the ability to apply both simple and sophisticated sort and filters to search results.

Workflow management is NOT optional

There are numerous internally-focused DAM tools that can add significant value for a digital asset manager, perhaps most of all in the workflow department. In an increasingly distributed working world, the requirement to manage workflows seamlessly is crucial. But there are multiple levels of workflow integration that can catch out the unwary. It’s a sad fact that UK employees often spend two hours searching for the right data. A lack of structure not only wastes employee time, it reduces productivity and adds unnecessary costs.


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While it is perfectly possible to manually track change requests and manage minor tweaks through sometimes convoluted approval processes, this can be time-consuming in itself. Especially in today’s multi-channel environment, version control and aggregating feedback or sign-off across paper, chat, email and other channels can be clunky at best.

Cloud based digital asset management that scales

One of the worst nightmares for digital asset managers is a legacy system. Or, worse still, multiple legacy systems that don’t interact. Obsolete interfaces, poorly-documented assets and potentially incompatible file types, as well as a lack of export options, can make working quickly and efficiently with older systems impossible – or at the very least, highly onerous.

While larger organisations will inevitably have some level of legacy hardware and/or software to manage, a crucial consideration for any DAM tool is its ability to grow with a business. In fact, the ability to create a bespoke solution that solves legacy problems, as well as tackling future requirements, is a key advantage for a good DAM.

That said, switching systems can be a demanding process for both parties, one that takes time to get right – up to four to six months for larger enterprises. Speed is everything. When BP chose to implement Imagen, transitioning 100TB of content took only 11 weeks.

AI: A helping hand in asset management

Another challenge for digital asset managers is maintaining internal processes, especially those around branding and usage rights for existing assets. While this is a core part of a digital asset specialist’s job, it’s a time-consuming task that needs to be tackled on several levels.

For example, in the days before DAM workflows, each business unit or internal department would often have different ideas about filename conventions, file types and the tagging structure they used for archiving. This is less of an issue in a small company, where everybody knows where files are stored and can overlook inconsistencies. But as a business grows, so does the content archive. In larger organisations, a lack of standardisation, automation and control rapidly creates chaos.


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A DAM workflow can solve a lot of the broad issues here, ensuring that the correct formats are used and that tags are auto-filled, rather than re-created by each user. Keeping this as streamlined as possible is essential, which is where artificial intelligence (AI) is often a hidden helping hand for digital asset managers.

AI functions such as speech-to-text and AI auto-tagging not only save valuable man hours from an end user’s perspective when uploading content, they also save many hours of painstaking work for the digital asset manager. IMG Replay is an online digital library containing some of the most iconic sporting moments from around the World. Using the Imagen DAM, they now run a 24/7 operation, which helps them achieve their “dream scenario” – e.g. a football match is played on a Saturday and time-based metadata can be added to it a few hours (rather than days) later.

The benefits of ensuring that tagging and metadata are logged speedily and structured correctly are enormous. It ensures that vital assets are easily searchable in the future and can be retrieved quickly for reuse or repurposing.

A good digital asset management strategy should not only streamline processes today, but have strong utility for the future discovery and re-use of key assets. This allows digital asset managers the flexibility to create new composite assets, as well as simply find older resources without the time-penalty that legacy systems can impose.

Ensuring a DAM solution that has the facility to manage approval and review requests natively is an essential tool in the box for reducing admin overheads. This is especially relevant when working with large files (e.g. high definition video) that consume significant bandwidth resources once exported. It’s also helpful if comments, image markup and team member tagging are provided.

With a cloud based digital asset management platform, collaboration can be significantly improved – although ‘that’ senior director who insists on hard copy for sign off might still need convincing!

Different vertical perspectives, same challenges

The fascinating fact about digital asset management is that while different verticals have different perspectives on the value of differing types and styles of assets, the challenges in managing large numbers of digital assets remain consistent. Although the granular detail of enterprise workflows may differ, the broad perspective remains very much the same.

Digital assets are one of the greatest stores of value in any business, and the ability to reuse, update, and repackage them in a flexible manner is crucial. Similarly, ensuring that stakeholders throughout the business (and externally) can access the correct assets to fulfil their roles seamlessly, all without complex additional procedures, is a vital component of success, not just a ‘nice to have’ feature.


Learn more about how Imagen can help your business with its powerful digital asset management platform.

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