Digital Asset Management or No Digital Asset Management? That is the QuestionMost enterprise systems today support some form of content management functionality -- more or less. So why would organizations look for a separate Digital Asset Management (DAM) system just to manage their rich media files? The simple answer is multiple enterprise systems cannot provide a single source of truth for all your valuable digital assets. Let me explain.

Organizations spend a lot of money procuring, creating and carefully editing visual imagery and video content. Once these costs are covered, there is only a marginal extra cost for repurposing those images and videos to multiple destinations -- whether it be publishing online, in print, on a billboard or as part of an archive for future reuse.

Is There Life Without DAM?

Many organizations looking to invest in Web Content Management (WCM), Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) or Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems ask themselves, why not store our assets inside the target system -- only feeding the system what it needs? Could that work? Not likely!

Here’s an all-too-familiar example of what happens when companies attempt to skirt a DAM system and rely on other systems to perform DAM-like capabilities:

Store all your image files in well-organized and labeled folders on a shared network drive. Place your final product pictures into a Web Content Management system for your website to serve them up quickly. Distribution partners need access to those perfected product images too, so you set up a shared Dropbox folder. And your Product Information Management (PIM) system also needs access to the latest approved product shots. A photo gets updated and approved for production. Now you must manage versions in at least three systems, plus the network drive … so, four. And multiply this situation for every piece of media content across the organization.

The Cost of Dodging DAM

It is not just the number of assets that poses problems. With growing demand for more content, rich media files come from different sources like in-house designers, external photographers or stock-photo agencies arriving in different formats, some with their own embedded metadata.

Today, media assets are used across every department. Large websites mostly show images and video with very little text. And it’s not just the website; every large IT system now tries to work with media files. And the number of assets and formats they are using grows every year.

Keeping track of digital assets is not the core functionality of the respective target systems. ERP, WCM, PIM and Web2Print vendors are specialists in their own areas, solving specific and complex customer problems.

As a result, vendor systems provide different ways of structuring content, different metadata to describe media files and different search capabilities to find those valuable assets.

Some enterprise systems may extract metadata from the assets and present a preview, others may not.