Running a digital asset management system without a self-service DAM intranet portal is like buying gas in Oregon — the “drivers” (end users) must rely on an “attendant” (a person in charge of managing digital assets) just to get to work.
It’s illegal to pump your own gas in the US State of Oregon. Anytime you take a pit stop in southern Core Cascadia you must wait for an attendant to come over, grab your cash or plastic, and start pumping. You then wait again for the attendant to come back over, remove the nozzle, and hand you a receipt. God forbid the tank unexpectedly stops pumping mid-refuel. It’s a nice regional perk on a cold and wet Portland day but infuriating when you’re in a hurry.
Why don’t they just let everyone pump their own gas like the other 48 sane states? (New Jersey has similar laws.) A big reason is security. Back when this legislation passed, there were concerns about equipment safety and so it was decreed that only ordained gas dispensing professionals would be allowed to operate the pumps.
Controlling the Flow
The same concern is also true for the security of your DAM. You don’t want anyone helping themselves to whatever images and videos they find and then blowing themselves or the company up. Someone might pump a high-res TIFF file into their screen-res PowerPoint presentation, similar to putting gasoline into a diesel engine — the thing just isn’t going to run right. Another security concern is someone using something they shouldn’t, perhaps something not properly licensed or released or just plain embarrassing (like putting curb feelers on an Audi R8).
While permissions in DAM provide some security, what works best is an interface designed specifically for the common DAM motorist. Something that is easy to use, provides relevant search options, and connects the end-user and the DAM collection. Most importantly, it should allow users to find what they need on their own without relying on someone else.
Getting Around the Gatekeepers
Let’s take a look at the other role in this analogy: the gas station attendant. They’re pretty busy with other customers, and would rather be doing other things like being inside their warm booth or smoking cigarettes (30 feet away of course).
People in charge of managing digital asset management collections feel the same way. The DAM manager would rather be working on something besides being an asset concierge. Instead, as a gatekeeper they become a bottleneck and are frequently interrupted with requests for assets. As one DAM attendant recently bemoaned, “They need my brain to find anything!”
So what does this DAM intranet thing do? It helps the motorists get to work and helps the attendants work more efficiently while maintaining their sanity (or what’s left of it). A self-service DAM intranet portal usually offers one or more of the following functions:
- A simple user interface, compared to the expert interface of the main DAM application
- Easily customizable search interfaces that display relevant options, as opposed to all search options
- The ability to pre-filter search results based on metadata rules. For example, only publish assets tagged with the keyword “approved”
- Options for downloading assets in alternative formats. For example, links for downloading JPEGs for PowerPoint and TIFFs for print
- Digital rights management and watermarking capabilities.
As a native Oregonian, it was easy for me to figure out how to pump my own gas when I first traveled out of state. The pump interface was easy enough, I didn’t spill any gas and I didn’t blow myself up. If you’re currently exploring or using DAM, I encourage you to travel outside your state and consider where a self-service DAM intranet can take you.
Title image courtesy of RetroClipArt (Shutterstock)
Editor's Note: Ed knows his DAM. Want to read more?
About the Author
In his current position at Extensis, Edward Smith is the in-house expert for all things digital asset management related and contributor to the DAM Learning Center.
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