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What is Digital Asset Management? (And why your company needs a DAM)

What is Digital Asset Management (DAM)?

You can’t do business without digital assets: the logos, photos, videos and other documents that help you sell products and services to the world. But with multiple stakeholders and thousands of files going through several iterations, it’s all too easy for things to go awry. Enter the Digital Asset Management (DAM) platform – the essential way to stay on top of your business, sales and marketing collateral.

Time Savings

Time Savings

The average UK employee spends a staggering two hours each day searching for data. DAMs save an average of 70% of this time.

Content Management

Content Management

The average amount of visual and creative assets accumulated in a company is 164 terabytes. DAMs keep everything in one, searchable repository.

Cost Savings

Cost Savings

Implementing a Digital Asset Management system for your business will save you money. Over five years, the average company can save nearly $189,000.

What's all the fuss about?

We all do business in a digital world, so it shouldn’t be surprising that every organisation now depends as much on digital assets as it does on physical ones. Whether you’re an importer in Israel, or a shipping company in Scotland, your business relies in part on being able to call up the right photos, datasheets and other rich media to describe the goods and services you provide.

For media companies and marketers the need is even more profound. In-house marketers need to manage brand and campaign content across several organisational units or regions. For agencies working with multiple clients and freelancers, there may be many thousands of digital assets, spread across multiple stakeholders, campaigns, channels or projects. And production companies are managing ever-growing archives of raw, in-production and published media.

For all businesses, the challenge is ensuring that digital assets are properly stored, tracked and managed. Partners need accurate data, customers demand current information, and brands need coordinated and coherent messaging, and without files named like: New_logo_V7_final_final_approved_JW (3).docx.

The answer is a digital asset management (DAM) platform. But what is digital asset management, who needs a DAM platform, and how do you pick the right one?

What does a DAM do?

A good DAM platform offers multiple features to help organisations stay in control of their digital assets. At the heart of it all, a DAM offers secure, centralised storage, combined with granular access control. This ensures that stakeholders can easily upload and organise files into a library of content, and maintain fine control over the groups and individuals who have access. A cloud-based DAM provides access to users irrespective of physical location, and it should support a wide range of devices.

A key attribute of any good DAM platform is a powerful search feature. That means being able to find assets not just by filename but by the metadata attached to it, such as creation or upload date, or tags – such as ‘interview’ or ‘Twitter’ + ‘Logo’ – that help users zoom in on exactly the right materials.

DAM platforms can also integrate directly with business processes, helping to streamline workflows by automating the management of their associated assets. DAMs are also crucial tools for distributing those assets. During production or iteration they ensure that creative, management, and compliance stakeholders all have coordinated, easy access to the latest version. And once assets are finalised, they help distribute them to the teams, partners or customers who need them.

Three ways a DAM can prove its worth

What are the benefits of a DAM?

A DAM offers many benefits to any organisation that works with digital assets. At the most basic level, it offers a secure repository for valuable digital files, ensuring that valuable IP is kept safe, and that brand media are stored safely. By ensuring that original/source files don’t go missing, a DAM helps prevent duplication, and allows assets to be re-cut, reworked or repurposed – extending their lifecycle and helping reduce costs.

DAMs play an important role in reducing duplicated effort and confusion during the creative process. By helping organisations keep track of multiple iterations, and storing them centrally, DAMs ensure that everyone knows where to go for the latest version of an asset. It’s a sad fact that UK employees often spend two hours searching for data. By managing comments and signoffs alongside the assets they relate to, DAMs help ensure quality control, and that final assets have obtained the correct licences and approvals.

DAMs help organisations share assets freely between multiple teams, or among homeworking colleagues. Not only do they lubricate distributed or multi-agency workflows, they provide business continuity during crises such as the Covid-19 pandemic. Compared to freemium sharing platforms like Google Drive, Box and Dropbox – often used in the absence of effective centralised solutions – DAMs offer far greater security and control over assets.

Who needs to use a DAM?

All organisations can benefit from a digital asset management platform. While they may be a nice-to-have for smaller organisations, they can be a critical tool for any size businesses working with large asset libraries.

DAMs provide security and clarity for all businesses working with digital assets. By keeping assets in a secure store – rather than spread across multiple sources – they help organisations retain control of sensitive information and valuable IP. And with powerful management and delivery features, they help firms distribute rich information to support their business.

DAMs are particularly useful to marketing teams and agencies working with brand collateral. By providing an authoritative store of approved assets such as brand books, logos, photos, videos and other documents, they help ensure that everyone involved maintains coherent brand behaviour and style across multiple channels and touchpoints. On the campaign level, they help manage assets through creation, iteration and signoff, to distribution.

What's the return on investment for a DAM?

The right DAM platform provides multiple efficiency and organisational savings that will more than offset its cost. Savings come through reduced man hours spent manually managing and archiving content, and less time wasted looking for lost assets in archives and other disparate locations. Efficiency savings don’t just apply to the person or team fulfilling asset requests – a quicker turnaround saves time and boosts productivity in the teams requesting the assets.

For many companies, a DAM’s distribution features offer savings over physical distribution methods – such as couriering disks to customers, partners or other stakeholders. Better organisation and search prevents assets going missing, and reduces money spent on duplicating lost content.

In addition to these savings, a DAM can enhance existing revenue streams – for example by improving the quality of information available to retail partners, and ultimately supporting sales. In some cases it may even create new opportunities to directly monetise assets, such as by providing commercial access to a video archive. 

Digital asset management benefits

Secure Storage

Secure Storage

Powerful Search and Retrieval

Powerful Search and Retrieval

Workflow Integration and Support

Workflow Integration and Support

Prevents Asset Loss and Duplication

Prevents Asset Loss and Duplication

Supports Distributed Working and Business Continuity

Supports Distributed Working and Business Continuity

Improves Efficiency of Everyone Working With Assets

Improves Efficiency of Everyone Working With Assets

What is a DAM like to use?

So far we’ve talked about the general features and benefits of a digital asset management platform, but not all platforms are created equal. For a start, DAM architecture varies, with some vendors offering on-premises or hybrid solutions, while others – like Imagen – offer fully cloud-based solutions.

As with any solution, choosing the right platform means weighing up features against the CapEx and OpEx costs. While on-premises solutions are weighted toward up-front costs, the OpEx cost of cloud and hybrid platforms is likely to be offset by the additional value they add, with users being able to collaborate and distribute anywhere.

A lot also depends on usability – there’s no point having a DAM if it’s too obtuse for people to use. The best combine powerful APIs and integrations with familiar web interfaces, allowing deep integrations with an intuitive user experience.

That’s certainly the experience of Imagen customer NatureScot, formerly Scottish Natural Heritage. “People… just get it,” explains Stephen Gerrard, Information Management Programme Manager. “We’ve demonstrated the system to a number of staff now and they’ve all been impressed. They find it easy to use, intuitive, and not only that – they’ve been engaged and excited by it, and that’s not always the case when you’re rolling out a system!”

This kind of intuitive usability is an important consideration when calculating the ROI on a DAM, as the potential savings of rolling a system out can be eroded if you also need to invest in ongoing user training programmes. But another core feature of a good DAM is the ability to customise it to fit your organisation’s needs.

Mike Melcher, Technical Director and Producer at Aon, agrees. “The [Imagen] platform is so flexible that we have been able to adapt [it] and push out the features that we want our users to use,” he says.

Usability is as important as functionality for a DAM, which might provide the digital structure for asset production and management activities across multiple organisations and territories. But what matters most is the overall value of the solution. “It doesn’t matter how sophisticated the technology is that you’re using,” Mike adds. “If it doesn’t save you time or really save you money, then why bother?”

Digital Asset Management in Action


LADBIBLE interview


What is Digital Asset Management to you?

Benefits of DAM

For all businesses, the right digital asset management platform will provide control over the vital materials that support modern sales, marketing and production. A DAM can add clarity to processes, improve efficiency, and save money by accelerating and streamlining asset production and distribution. And with a long-term transformation to home working underway, a DAM moves from ‘just’ a business continuity measure to a permanent requirement for collaborative and distributed working.

Indeed, “an effective DAM platform is more essential than ever before,” adds Mike Melcher. “Individuals want it, virtual teams absolutely need it, and above all, organisations must have it. An integrated DAM platform not only brings assets together, but it really brings people together across any organisation.”

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