A wise educator once proclaimed that there is “a place for everything and everything in its place.” Not only is this true today, but it's an absolute necessity where rich media assets compete for attention and use within a multichannel distribution framework. Assets are located, changed into different formats and delivered to television, mobile, print and social media with various degrees of accompanying metadata. To speed the process there needs to be a place -- and specifically a central place -- where all rich media assets may be managed for specific use and distribution. A Digital Asset Management (DAM) system can be that place: the Place of Everything (PoE).

A variety of clever acronyms have been word-smithed for our collective enjoyment over the last couple of years. In particular, Cisco defines the Internet of Everything (IoE) as, “bringing together people, process, data and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable.” We were also introduced to the Internet of Things (IoT) -- uniquely identifiable objects and their virtual representations in an Internet-like structure.

DAM and its placement within the content industries and solutions can be seen as combining these definitions to be a valued structure within an organization -- a “place of everything.” This article argues that in order to exact this PoE, a great deal of consideration needs to be paid to the foundational structures of the DAM to ensure that it is intentional, grounded in good design, always striving to adhere to the business requirements at hand and provides an organized solution for its users.

What is Digital Asset Management (DAM)?

As a refresher, DAM consists of the management of tasks and technological functionality designed to enhance the inventory, control and distribution of digital assets (rich media such as photographs, videos, graphics, logos, marketing collateral). DAM enables the ingestion, annotation, cataloguing, storage, retrieval and distribution of digital assets for use and reuse in marketing and business operations. A digital asset is any form of content or media that has been formatted into a binary source and includes the right to use it.

And by design, DAM is intentional and purposeful. The practice of managing digital assets achieves operational control of your organization's information and intellectual property and leverages their growth potential. DAM may also enhance other mission-critical systems such as e-commerce and online shopping experiences. DAM must be grounded in strategy and supported by business decisions driving the program. DAM as the PoE serves as the single source of truth for all assets within an organization.

DAM Considerations

It’s commonly known but worth repeating: technology should never lead the decision making process for DAM demands -- the business sets the foundation for strategy first. Technology is incredibly important and the vendor review and selection process is a critical step, but that step must follow the business requirements and digital strategy.

Deciding to implement a DAM system is a step in the right direction to gaining operational and intellectual control of your digital assets, and it is a decision to be taken seriously. Any successful DAM implementation requires more than just new technology -- DAM requires a foundation for digital strategy. Creating the whole DAM solution and connecting it throughout your business means that assets can generate revenue, increase efficiencies, and meet new and emerging market opportunities.

DAM is more than a sum total of its parts. Digital Asset Management must include a detailed review and analysis of all the contributing factors: digital assets, organization, workflow, security, etc. It takes a considerable effort to get everything in its place, there is no magic here.

Foundation for DAM

Every strategy needs to start with a foundation, a solid base upon which some form of structure rests and where meaning may be established. Intention starts when you build the business case for DAM and the foundations soon follow. A successful DAM strategy uses key foundational structures to ensure that everything can get into its place:

  • Foundation #1 -- Assets
  • Foundation #2 -- Metadata
  • Foundation #3 -- Taxonomy
  • Foundation #4 -- Workflow
  • Foundation #5 -- Digital Rights Management
  • Foundation #6 -- Work in Progress / Digital Preservation
  • Foundation #7 -- Governance

Great content isn’t really great until it gets found, consumed and shared. We can thank metadata for most of that organization, but there needs to be a central initiative to create and support that single source of truth. The opportunity for content owners, marketing technologists and all those managing content lies in understanding the value metadata provides their assets, and how it can empower their digital operations from creation, to discovery, through distribution.

The path to success with DAM is known and can create a PoE by bringing all digital assets together and organizing their representation. Start by driving strategic decisions organizationally and technically. Next, work with a vendor on technical implementation and innovation to leverage the DAM investment. Set goals, define a framework and build out the capabilities now that will allow your organization to mature over time and achieve sustainable success.

The DAM Kingdom is a Game of Many Thrones

Content is still “king” and the ability to strategically set the foundation for the kingdom will enable you to take control of your digital assets with DAM. However, there are many “thrones” within that deserve and demand your attention. You need to get your digital house in order, know what your internal business units and external partners need, and understand how you will need to deliver assets today -- and tomorrow -- across multiple channels and devices.

The ability to provide assets of high value and quality in a timely basis is no longer a wish, it is the expectation. And yet, the decision to go with a DAM system enacts a chain of questions that must be carefully considered before proceeding. Using DAM effectively can deliver knowledge and measurable cost savings, time to market gains and greater brand voice consistency -- valuable and meaningful effects from your PoE.

Title image by Markus Mainka (Shutterstock)