A version is defined as a particular form or variant of something. In the case of Digital Asset Management (DAM), versions apply to digital assets and their respective metadata. Without version control and history in DAM, errors during the editing process can turn into disasters.
Versioning can involve updating, editing or changing assets and/or metadata safely. A version often involves a correction or an improvement by editing.
Versions are not Variations nor Renditions
Be careful not to mix up the concept of versions vs. variations vs. renditions.
Versions in a DAM are important to maintain control over edits. We should be able to have full control of versions and accountability of the version history so we can save/restore older versions if an error is made. Older versions can remain available as needed.
There is rarely one true “final” asset, but rather multiple assets with variations, depending on the use or situation, which may be used in different places. It is highly possible to have different versions of the same asset. We may also need different renditions of an asset which may have different file types (different file extensions) of similar content.
A version is not a child asset either. If we want to start talking about parent-child relationships between assets, that will be another rabbit hole we can tumble down in the future.
No Version Control Needed Here?
Don't think you need version control nor version history in a DAM? Then you must not make any mistakes nor does anyone else. Ever. Good for you! Some of us wish we could live in your world.
Now back to reality ...
When we start accumulating assets for projects, we are bound to have corrections.
Without version control or version history, changes are more permanent (like an overwrite) which can yield more work if the last change (or changes) were an error. Without version control, there is no going back even if we need to. There is little record as to what was done to reach this point without version history. The lack of version control does not help job security either. At some point, a version will be selected and it may be the latest version.
If we do not have/use version control in the DAM, we are left with few options are to add a new version by overwriting an existing asset, by deleting an asset or by uploading the asset again as a new asset. These are bad idea either way. Why?
First, these are very poor workflows with near term repercussions. These are also archaic options.