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With the growth of omnichannel marketing, 71% of marketers said they now need to create 10 times as many assets to support all these different channels and touchpoints. Not only that, 85% also believe they’re under increasing pressure to create digital assets and deliver them more quickly.

With the need for content velocity and the sheer amount of digital assets being created — from images to video and audio files — companies need a cost-effective way to manage the process. That’s where digital asset management (DAM) systems come in, but what exactly is a DAM?

The experts explain what a DAM system is, how to choose the right one for your organization and the most common mistakes to avoid along the way.

What Is a DAM?

“DAM is a process for organizing, storing and retrieving rich media and managing digital rights and permissions,” explained Jeff Looman, VP of engineering at FileShadow, Inc. There are many types of DAM solutions from cloud-hosted to on-premises, but the end-goal is to store digital assets in a way that’s secure, accessible and efficient.

In most cases, the DAM system brings together multiple silos of data among other systems into one centralized platform. “Having multiple data silos” Looman added, “may result in redundancy of work and confusion between disparate groups with regards to effective collaboration.” Employees often waste time searching for files, and many assets even get lost within data silos, so having a centralized system in place creates more efficient employee workflows.

“This is a system with which you can download, transfer to other users and track all your digital data in a single ecosystem from any device,” added Maksym Babych, CEO of SpdLoad. The capability to collaborate when creating and managing digital assets is crucial in the digital era.

With most DAM solutions, everything is stored in the cloud. “This means you can access your assets round the clock from anywhere in the world,” explained Jitin Narang, CMO at TechAhead. Companies, therefore, can gain value from their assets throughout each stage of the content marketing strategy from creation to delivery.

Related Article: Gartner's Top 19 Enterprise Digital Asset Management Solutions

How to Choose a DAM

While a DAM system can bring enormous benefits to organizations, the marketplace is vast. Here are some tips for sifting through the options:

  • Review Existing Processes - “It's crucial to audit your workflows and systems, suggested Narang, “to identify needs and requirements before selecting a DAM tool.” This will give you a better idea of what you need to look for from support file types to use of metadata and operating system support.
  • Integrations Are Critical - If the DAM solution is going to act as a centralized hub for your digital assets, it needs the ability to integrate with your existing systems. “It is essential that your DAM aggregates from multiple cloud and physical sources, and handles all file types,” explained Looman, “so that all of your valuable digital assets are securely stored in one place.” 
  • Consider Pricing Options - Babych recommended you “find out the pricing policy, and how the price can change when you add a new user or more used space.” Often the costs of DAM systems can rise dramatically as users or data usage increases, so it’s essential to consider the cost of the platform now and for the future as your organization grows before you make a decision.
  • Ensure the Platform Is Secure - “Ensure a DAM has the encrypted security necessary,” Looman said. You want to look for specific security best practices like strong authentication and multi-factor security to make sure only authorized users can access your data.

If the solution is cloud-hosted, Babych added, “find out where your data is stored, where the servers are located, read the privacy policy.” These are critical factors in ensuring your data is secure.

Related Article:  How Much Does a DAM System Cost?

Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a DAM System

Looman believes the biggest mistake companies make is a “lack of consideration for the human element, and the loss in productivity they may encounter as a result of introducing something outside of the established paradigm.” Many DAM systems have a learning curve, so it’s essential to understand how this will affect employee productivity.

Narang agrees that the human element is critical to the decision-making process. “Not involving the people who will be using the tool daily at various stages of the asset lifecycle is a mistake you must avoid when choosing a DAM system,” he said.

“There are so many different types of services and media today that there’s not just one right answer when it comes to finding a DAM,” said Looman. Ultimately, companies will need to go through the process themselves to find the best DAM solution for their organization.