Growing need for digital asset management

Technology is putting rich media into the hands and onto the websites of almost every company. The wealth of data creates a new problem, keeping track of it, says North Plains' Hassan Kotob.

Commentary - Digital asset management, or DAM, has often been described as a process or a tool for organizing the creation, management, distribution, and archiving of rich media assets. In the DAM world, the term “assets” generally refers to rich media files such as images, photos, video and audio, whereas a “file” generally refers to email, documents, records, or scanned images. Creative agencies, publishers and media outlets have long realized the wisdom of utilizing DAM solutions for producing media assets, managing digital rights, conferring with clients, handling review cycles, retouching images, and editing photos and videos.

The growing need for digital asset management
Today, it’s increasingly common for businesses of all kinds to produce corporate videos and podcasts, e-Learning modules, YouTube clips, training materials, brand identity graphics, and more. DAM systems bring order to the creative process involved with producing and leveraging these assets to their fullest extent.

A recent Forrester report noted, “With technologies like digital cameras and inexpensive authoring tools driving asset creation costs down, digital assets are greatly increasing in number and these rich media are being used across a wider range of enterprises. Inadequate management of these growing libraries, however, will make reusing and repurposing difficult, leading many organizations to take another look at DAM.”1 Analysts at IDC concur: “IDC believes the digital asset management market will enjoy a compound annual growth rate of more than 25 percent during the period of 2006-2010, outperforming the overall content management market…and the software market as a whole, by a wide margin…DAM will remain an independent and lively market…given the specialized requirements of DAM solutions.”2

The benefits of DAM Organizations deploying specialized DAM solutions typically realize the following benefits:

  • Consistent messaging and brand — With built-in revision control, asset repurposing, and approval processes, DAM systems enable organizations to maintain consistent use and re-expression of digital assets, from brochures to corporate videos to web content.
  • Generation of new revenue streams — Many organizations have built new business opportunities around the creation of high-value content for internal and external clients by repurposing their assets such as using book covers to promote books online. Consider a photo that costs tens of thousands of dollars to create each and every time. With DAM, it can be reused. Without DAM, its existence may not be known and the re-creation costs are incurred once again.
  • Cost savings — Organizations gain a return on their investment through the elimination of redundant asset creation efforts and the ability to quickly retrieve assets.
  • Digital media management and distribution — DAM systems enable the efficient organization, indexing, and distribution of digital assets. Advanced DAM systems provide a distributed architecture and multi-site asset storage, as well as the ability to provide multiple repositories for self-synchronization of both assets and their associated metadata.
  • Global web-based access — Organizations can distribute digital masters and other types of licensed assets via secure web access. Advanced DAM systems also provide asset ordering and fulfillment modules, and can easily integrate with existing e-commerce and transaction servers.

Vetting DAM solutions
Select a digital asset management system based on your creative needs. This may include management of your organization’s creative assets, managing broadcast and post-production workflows, media enhanced e-learning, video-on-demand repositories, multi-channel distribution, personalized publishing on-demand, and more. Most businesses today will find it beneficial to use a solution that also manages the video creation, editing, collaboration, and management process. This involves ease of integration with video editing applications, video usage standards, and broadcast workflows. Questions you may want to consider before investing in a digital asset management solution include:

  • Does the DAM solution provide seamless integration with creative authoring tools such as Adobe Creative Suite and Quark or digital editing suites such as Avid and Apple's Final Cut Pro?
  • Is “work-in-progress” supported by this DAM solution, or does it simply provide the ability to archive your organization’s assets? Some DAM and ECM solutions provide only the archiving capabilities.
  • Is this a “best of breed” DAM solution? Be wary of vendors who try to be all things to all customers. Give preference to a best of breed DAM solution over an ECM or MRM (Marketing Resource Management) solution that also offers limited DAM functionality which may not meet your requirements.
  • Can the solution scale? Be sure to select a DAM solution that has the ability to keep up with the growth of your organization and its requirements. And of course, if you are thinking of an enterprise-wide or global implementation, the ability for your DAM solution to easily scale is a necessity.

Until recently, many enterprises have not realized the great need for DAM solutions. The ability that DAM has to manage both documents and digital assets is extraordinary. While many general content management vendors offer basic DAM functionality, they have lost touch with the collaborative process that is so integral to the creation and management of rich media assets. These systems may support the ability to attach static images or even short video clips. However, the proper management of rich media assets requires a more sophisticated approach.

Forward-thinking organizations recognize the need for solutions designed from the ground up to support the creative process. Selecting the best solution that meets your requirements enables organizations to leverage the expertise of both knowledge management and artistic teams to their fullest extent.

Hassan Kotob is president and CEO of North Plains Systems.