shutterstock_64722724.jpg Digital Asset Management
is a specialist sub-set of Content Management, one which has developed along it's own evolutionary past. It has grown out of the needs of the traditional publishing industry to manage photographic images for print publications, and developed into an adjunct of web content management to manage still images, video and audio files as "rich media" content for web sites and other media.

In some cases, such as at a large distance learning University I worked at in the U.K., all content that is pulled together for "publication" as part of a production process is referred to as a "digital asset," including textual content (in the form of XML), with the aim of reaching that content management nirvana of "create once -- publish many" by re-purposing the assets to customize the content for a particular media.

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Just as an example, while using the CMS Wire content management system to write this article, I went to the "insert picture" facility which allowed me to browse all the images that have been previously uploaded, and choose the graphic above from Open Text. The facility allows me to see some metadata such as file size and also a thumbnail image of the graphic.

Obviously this is a simplistic use case, which in the Open Text DAM world view as shown above, fits into the right hand side of the graphic as "media use" example.

As we are now firmly in the Podcasting and YouTube era, even your older staff will be comfortable with the thought of downloading podcasts via Apple's ubiquitous iTunes, or watching the latest movie trailers and "LOL Cats" videos via the equally ubiquitous YouTube !

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So the problem is if you stick to the old fashioned intranet style of content delivery, in the form of pages full of text, then as per many aspects of the current trend towards the "consumerization of IT," your staff are going to have a better "experience" at home than they do in the office -- leading to potentially un-informed and unengaged staff.

The upshot of this, is that DAM is now far less the specialist domain of the web masters of major web properties or publishing companies or film studies, but something that intranet managers, their teams and their supporting IT colleagues need to be far more aware of.

But It's Just Another Form of Intranet Content!

I can hear you all shouting at me (or is that just that persistent little voice inside my head?). Yes, absolutely digital assets are just another form of content.

For years our web designers have been telling us to use more images on our intranets; not just to make them looking pretty, but to make them more compelling for the readers. However this is a matter of relative sizing and complexity. If you’re in a smaller organization with a fairly simple intranet, then perhaps managing some photos via the features of your Web CMS is just fine.

However it could be that you’re in a big organization, with a complex intranet. You want to display infographics to illustrate information or concepts; maybe you need to display conceptual drawings, not to mention the video of the latest corporate town hall meeting and the HR department's podcast on how to develop your staff.

DAM for SharePoint Intranets

I quite often say "damn" and SharePoint in the same sentence, but in this case I mean the Digital Asset Management functionality built into Microsoft's popular portal and collaboration product, which provides the intranet platform for many organizations.

MOSS2007 was poor, with the ability to handle graphics files and with the specialist "slide library" for PowerPoint files. SharePoint 2010 handles media files and metadata in a much better fashion:

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Way back in Sept. of 2010, Mike Ferrara (@mikecferrara) did a quick overview of SharePoints’ DAM capabilities in this CMSWire article: Is SharePoint 2010’s DAM Good Enough for Your Organization?

Bottom line with SharePoint -- it may well be good enough, but as with everything there is no one size fits all, so check it out fully before making any assumptions.

DAM Capabilities from Other CMS

Other Web CMS and Enterprise CMS vendors will provide you with specialist DAM modules or additional products, e.g. Open Text, EMC Documentum, Nuxeo, Drupal, etc.

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Drupal's media module

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Nuxeo's DAM

The Cloud Option

Of course you may not need to invest in modules or additional applications to add to your CMS at all!

It could be that you can manage just fine by linking out to the existing products available on the public internet:

  • Video: Set up your YouTube channel and get uploading your training videos, corporate messages, town halls, etc.
  • Presentations: SlideShare.net is ready for your presentations, which can include audio tracks
  • Podcasts: Set yourself up on PodBean.com and away you go...

Of course if you don’t want to lever the consumer social media platforms via planting their “embed” code into your intranet pages, then there are plenty of other vendors, including the big DAM vendors who will sell you services, such as Open Text Video Services.

The DAM Conclusion...

So Mr / Mrs / Miss Intranet Manager -- you need to get with the rich media revolution, text is so 1439 (ask Herr Gutenberg). As per usual it is simply (!) a matter of figuring out your requirements and then matching them to the continuum of available solutions -- from levering “consumer IT” to buying a big custom DAM system, there is something out there which will fit your needs.

Now, where did I put that iMovie tutorial?

Title image courtesy of Lasse Kristensen (Shutterstock).

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