What is Digital Asset Management?

Digital asset management (DAM) describes the policies, practices and software you’ll use to find, track and use your digital content. In fact, DAM is little more than a “scalable” extension of file management practices you already know.

Digital asset management is increasingly used to describe the management of digital currencies, such as Bitcoin. This practice is unrelated to the management of digital content.

Home-grown Digital Asset Management

When you name files and create folders in which to save those files, you are doing more than you think.

  • You name files using terms you think will later help you find and identify their contents.
  • You build folder structures that reflect hierarchies that make sense to you and reflect the way you work.
  • You (perhaps subconsciously) define rules that govern the use of those files. For example, you don’t share financial documents to Facebook, and you know that everything in the “To Do” folder is a work in progress.

Overtime, you’ve probably become pretty good about knowing where your files are, what’s inside of them, and how you should be using them. In fact, you’ve become a master of personal digital asset management.

Digital Asset Management Across the Organization

The problem with your personal system is that it doesn’t scale across your organization. Coworkers can’t read your mind. So even if your personal DAM system is built on a network share, it’s still personal in nature—it reflects the way you think.

An enterprise digital asset management solution must reflect the way your organization “thinks” and works—it must reflect a collective consciousness. In addition, it must make sense to your coworkers today and your successors tomorrow, many of whom will not be able to ask you for help.

The What, When, Where, Why and How of DAM Metadata

Metadata is the heartbeat of any digital asset management system, and for good reason. Metadata answers the questions users need to know about your digital assets:

  • What is the asset? (photo of the iPhone 7)
  • When can I use it? (not until January, 2015)
  • Where can I ask questions or get licenses? (contact Product Management at extension ICU812)
  • Why should I use it? (when you need to promote the iPhone 7)
  • How may I use it? (print, broadcast, Web in North America and Europe only)

By building a digital asset management solution that proactively answers all the questions users have now or might have in the future, you extend the success of your personal digital assessment management prowess across your entire enterprise.

The Role DAM Software Plays at Your Organization

When you think about the what/when etc. of digital asset management, it’s easy to see that much of what goes into DAM has nothing to do with DAM software. In fact, a digital asset management solution should be seen only as the gatekeeper that exists to protect your assets using the rules and policies you’ve defined.

Think of DAM software as you would the hire of a key employee. You conduct interviews to find suitable DAM solution candidates and then, based on DAM vendor resumes, interview (demo) performance and your gut instinct, you given some lucky DAM system the job.

Larger organizations typically put new hires through orientation sessions in which they learn the rules, where to find things, etc. DAM software must also be “educated” about how you want it to perform and behave. Part of this training will be the way in which the DAM system is configured, but much of it will be the realization of your DAM policies—the what/when.

When your DAM software is properly configured and your DAM users have been trained, you’ll have a digital asset management initiative that will efficiently serve your entire organization.