By now you have read the articles, heard the buzz, and are ready to jump on the DAM bandwagon. But what is Digital Asset Management really and how do you know if you need it? If you are like many professionals today, you generate and/or use digital media on a weekly, or even, daily basis. Yet, your still photos, graphics, documents and other types of digital content are distributed in no particular way among hard drives, servers, and DVDs throughout the offices within your organization. How do you find digital content when you need it? How do you track the usage of your digital content? Once you do locate an asset, how do you know who owns the copyright? Can you use it? Has it already been used in a marketing campaign?
If you have found yourself asking these questions, then Digital Asset Management is the solution for you. DAM provides an efficient means for centralizing, tracking, managing, locating, and sharing digital content within your organization. It is a one-stop shop for your colleagues, employees, partners, customers, and any other important players in your corporate pipeline to locate and retrieve digital media.
DAM is a broad term that covers a full spectrum of technology solutions from personal software for managing music files such as MP3s to enterprise server solutions for managing heterogeneous files types within a company. However, most DAM solutions include the following core capabilities:
- Storage – How your assets are ingested, stored, and backed-up.
- Retrieval – How your assets are accessed. This usually involves some sort of search and meta-data support. A DAM solution may also provide a taxonomy or classification system to facilitate consistent storage and the ability to browse assets by a well-defined vocabulary.
- Delivery – How your assets are shared or delivered to clients, colleagues, and other interested parties. Many DAM solutions provide tools to facilitate sharing and distribution of your assets.
These core capabilities just scratch the surface of what a DAM can do for you. Many enterprise-scale solutions offer the following extended capabilities as well: Workflow Automation (streamlining your digital workflow), Archival and Backups (disaster-proofing your digital assets), Usage Tracking (how, when, and where assets have been used both within and outside your organization), and E-commerce (selling your assets from a secure, online shopping cart).
Digital Asset Management software comes in many flavors from home-grown systems to completely hosted and web accessible services (SaaS). In a future post, I will explore some of the pros and cons of these various approaches.