step into the neon doorway
DAM's role in the business is going through a transformation PHOTO: Alessio Lin

“Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” — T.S. Eliot

The future is already happening. Now is the time to focus on that future, to make the necessary plans for your digital assets, and to move in a proactive and productive manner toward true program management. You need to engage in digital asset management.

Digital asset management (DAM) consists of the management tasks and technological functionality designed to enhance the inventory, control and distribution of digital assets. DAM enables the ingestion, annotation, cataloging, storage, retrieval and distribution of digital assets for use and reuse in marketing and business operations. 

DAM is important because content is only valuable if it can be found, consumed and shared. We can thank metadata and creative workflows for most of that organization, but there needs to be a willingness, if not a mandate, to create and support that single source of truth within the business — the DAM.

The opportunity for content owners, marketing technologists and anyone else who manages content lies in understanding how assets are at the center of digital operations, from creation to discovery through distribution. Remember this: Value is not found, it is made. And it is made by managing content and data well.

The Future of DAM

DAM futurists envision the DAM of tomorrow as a practice that both embodies and facilitates responsiveness, agility and dynamism. Future DAM will depart from traditionally fixed infrastructure elements and business rules, and will anticipate managing content beyond classically defined “digital assets.” Thus, DAM will ultimately require updated terminology and may well require a new label for the practice itself.

Content is everything, and DAM is critical to the content ecosystem. Future DAM will be characterized by greater user interactivity and collaboration, more pervasive network connectivity and enhanced communication channels. Some tweaks to DAM as we know it might include the following:

  • DAM as an agile program.
  • DAM managing more than classically defined “digital assets” within the complex content ecosystem.
  • DAM as connected to content with strong user experience and enhanced communication channels.

DAM: What Really Matters?

Professionals, practitioners and DAM vendors are all feeling the change in this welcomed age of digital disruption. This past year has seen many themes associated with DAM, including metadata, governance, integration, change management and even ontologies and artificial intelligence. We now have the opportunity to think beyond the here and now and consider content curation, rather than content collection, as a strategy for success. Content is a human endeavor, and as an organization, you need to assess your methods and business processes for managing content against best practices with clear, agnostic benchmarks. Only then will you be able to achieve lofty goals and stakeholder satisfaction.

The fundamentals of business have been dramatically transformed by the sudden and rapid emergence of the digital age. The key to successfully managing in a rapidly changing world is to focus on what really matters for you and your business: to focus on, and continually improve that focus on, business-aligned decisions.

DAM Foundations

The decision to manage content is the first step in the right direction for a business seeking to gain operational and intellectual control of its digital assets. It requires more than just new technology. It requires a foundation for the strategy of a larger DAM program. Never forget the power of people, process and technology in your DAM practice, because the following fundamentals for DAM are unchanged and are as relevant today as they have always been:

  1. Business case.
  2. Metadata.
  3. Workflow — work in progress (WIP) and life cycle management.
  4. Rights and licensing management.
  5. User experience.
  6. Governance.
  7. Technology.

DAM the Change

Future DAM will accelerate the conversation between businesses and consumers. Businesses creating and disseminating brand and marketing messages and products will engage with consumers, who will respond with shopping behavior, internet searches, assets and data such as reviews, comments, images, check-ins and other online actions. Content has become the connection between people, process and technology.

Just stop and think of the massive connections this will make. It forces you to think differently. It is important to think beyond the here and now and approach DAM with new context and considerations. Here are some questions to consider:

  • What content is valuable to the business and your industry? DAM must anticipate emerging trends and opportunities. A successful DAM program encourages data curation, not just blind data collection. There is a need to determine what is valuable creative content versus the extra stuff made in the process. The more assets you manage, the more resources you need for the maintenance.
  • What is your future digital user experience with content? DAM will also encourage the reinvention of digital experiences, most notably through meaningful information architecture and adaptive user experience (UX) design through visualization and virtualization tools.
  • What is the right balance of people, process and technology? Do not forget that DAM is a human endeavor, and while it speeds processes and reduces manual activity, it requires ongoing decision-making that only human insight can provide. DAM is not about the total elimination of human effort. It is about the best application of human intelligence upon the technology designed to simplify the human experience.

DAM: Part of a Holistic Information Solution

In order to respond quickly to customer expectations, future DAM must work within a transformational business strategy that encompasses the entire enterprise. Whether you view digital transformation as technology, customer engagement, or marketing and sales, intelligent operations coordinate these efforts toward a unified goal. More than ever, DAM is a critical component of the content ecosystem. Managing knowledge, rights, data, privacy, etc. brings different frameworks for managing content. 

DAM is strengthened when working as part of the whole. Embarking on the journey of building a digital foundation requires attention and preparedness. Start asking questions, and never stop. By understanding and defining fundamental goals, and by identifying the information and content the organization uses, a foundation can drive new uses for content. Creating a holistic solution around information will play an integral role in how the business generates revenue, increases efficiencies and enhances its ability to meet new and emerging market opportunities.

More than ever, DAM will be integrated and connected in the content ecosystem. For your “DAM future” reference, get connected to your content.