Digital Asset Management has evolved from being an isolated application for managing media content for the marketing world to being a core piece of a broader content management strategy. Many different use cases for DAM technology have emerged in recent years, highlighting the need to track video, audio and image content.
For a simple example, my car was recently rear-ended, and an insurance adjuster came to evaluate the damage. She took pictures and filled out an evaluation form on her tablet. Insurance claims in the past were managed on paper and stored in physical file folders, along with photos of the damage. Now, the paperwork, photos and videos are all digital content to be cataloged and stored for processing. In this context, it wouldn't make sense to store the photos in a DAM application and manage the case in a separate application.
While there is certainly a healthy market for purpose-built DAM applications, there is also increasing demand for platforms that power the development of custom DAM solutions for these emerging requirements for managing media and digital assets as part of a content management strategy.
Why a Platform?
Digital Asset Management solutions, like many enterprise applications, are increasingly being built in-house so they can more closely adapt to functional and user experience requirements. Many of today’s technology enabled companies are agile and well equipped to develop sustainable applications. By keeping it in-house, they can deliver solutions that meet their specific requirements, integrate with their systems and evolve under their control.
DAM platforms lower the barrier to entry of a custom solution, while offering the flexibility lacking in purpose-built DAM applications. They are a good fit for many use cases that fall outside of marketing media management and involve more specific line-of-business content management.
Lisa McIntyre, DAM Librarian at GSD&M, a full-service advertising agency, has been watching the DAM market for a replacement to their legacy system. “I think the main reason to use a platform for DAM is that the solution doesn't exist in a vacuum. By using a platform for DAM, you open it up to all the other systems you have in your ecosystem.”
Digital and media assets, just like any type of content, generally are connected to other systems in the organization, outside of the DAM application. Custom integrations with other applications can be costly and hard to maintain. A DAM platform natively offers an open and flexible way of connecting assets across the enterprise application portfolio.
What’s in a Name?
In a broader sense, a digital asset is also just plain old content, that is to say information created for people (as opposed to data). A digital asset is more than a simple audio, video or image file. It can be a complex object, with identifying metadata and relationships to other content, so that in fact it actually models the business concept that it represents, such as an insurance claim, a gadget for sale on an e-commerce site, or a museum artifact.
By mapping a DAM strategy to a broader content management strategy, with connections and workflows that follow the path of natural business processes, organizations ultimately extract more value from the investment in technology.
Beyond Storage and Retrieval: Modeling Business Logic
When DAM is deployed in the context of broader content management initiatives, digital assets become in fact business assets, which are ultimately defined by the organization’s value chain. The common thread is the necessity to manage business workflows and interactions that are centered on some type of defined content, and often connect to other types of content and systems inside and outside the organization.
The business logic that guides these content flows is necessarily contextual and very specific to the organization. Modeling the information and processes into the technology solution involves defining content types, their metadata, their relationships to other content and workflows. The closer this models the reality of the business, the more efficiencies and value can be derived from the solution.
In the case of the insurance application, when the business logic is smoothly managed by the technology platform, people don’t see multiple integrated applications or manual processes. They see efficiency and quick resolution.
Credit: Comic by Thibaut Soulcié
Editor's Note: Read more viewpoints on this month's DAM focus here.