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The Pros and Cons of Digital Asset Management

Published on 24th April 2018 at 17:19 by Jennifer Armstrong

The Pros and Cons of Digital Asset Management

Digital assets are any files that provide value to an organization. Ultimately they are visual representations of your products and services, which include photos, graphics and documents to name but a few. The volume of these digital assets is growing rapidly, in part due to the rising number of devices that we use to produce and consume digital media. You only have to think of the size of image libraries within the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) and Real Estate industries to see the need for management. What’s more, the variety of user touch points offers excellent opportunities for business owners to maximize on the profitability of their digital assets. However, the intrinsic value they provide is only relevant if they can be found and used efficiently - this is where Digital Asset Management comes in to play.

What Is Digital Asset Management?

Digital Asset Management (DAM) is the process of managing all of an organization’s digital assets. It is much more than a simple storage device for files or a shared drive. Digital assets need to be organized so that they are searchable and can be used appropriately. A big part of DAM is, ultimately, the management of the digital asset lifecycle. Assets need to be created, managed, distributed, and then preserved or archived. Industries with extensive collections of media assets need to be able to quickly supply these to employees across the organization. DAM is a marketing technology tool that allows management throughout the lifecycle, ensuring that users can easily find, share and amend assets.

What digital asset management solutions are available?

There are two principal types of digital asset management solutions, project and product or brand-based. A project-based DAM, as the title suggests, aims to connect the digital assets to specific projects. This is especially helpful when companies want to search for assets by location, project lead or project number. In relation to the AEC and Real Estate industries, a project-based DAM makes it easier to organize and market projects properties. The organization and tagging of assets simplify the marketing process. The alternatives are product or brand-based solutions, which instead of focusing on project use custom tags and keywords to centralize assets around brands or products.  

The most common type of digital management software is SaaS (Software as a Service). This is cloud-based digital asset management software that is accessed remotely over the internet rather than being installed on machines in your organization. Not using internal hardware or servers reduces concerns over maintenance and makes this solution scalable. What’s more, as the software isn’t linked to specific devices, users can access it anywhere and anytime.  The cloud-based system results in less administration, backups are automated and the system integrates more easily with existing systems. The start-up cost is relatively low and, due to the cloud-based system, updates are available to all users instantaneously.

What are the advantages of digital asset management?

Regardless of the software you use to manage your digital assets, implementing DAM has distinct advantages. In short, a DAM will allow you to organize, share and centralize all of your digital assets. The following are many of the other benefits you can expect to see on implementing a DAM:

  • Time savings - using metadata to tag all of your digital assets will save valuable time. Users will be able to find what they need more quickly. This means that your employees can focus on their areas of expertise instead of losing precious time on searching for the assets they need. What’s more, as assets will be searchable, DAM removes the time and cost implications of re-creating assets if they can’t be found.
  • Ease of reusing and repurposing assets - not only do DAM allow you to quickly search for assets but the process of editing, repurposing and distributing them is simplified.
  • Improved workflows - a DAM will allow workflows to be automated and will ensure projects keep moving. Users can be alerted to ensure they stay on target and meet deadlines.
  • Ensured brand consistency - as all digital assets are tagged and managed your organization can ensure that off-brand or out of date assets are archived appropriately. This, in turn, reduces your organization’s risk and liability.
  • Maximized asset value - as your assets will be stored in a central, searchable repository, your employees will have the power at their fingertips to harness earning potential from these assets. You will be able to find and maximize revenue on your resources by easily being able to conduct reviews.
  • Facilitated data analysis - asset management software includes tools allowing your organization to forecast revenue, carry out market research, and do data analysis. With your data and assets stored in a centralized system that can be used in this way you can uncover ways to increase revenue.
  • Supported business growth - having a centralized DAM means that you can easily train new employees to use the system and mistakes are minimized. Your staff base has more time to focus on growing your business. If you have a real estate firm, you want your high-skilled team to be selling property not doing admin. In addition to this the solutions themselves are scalable, so when your business grows and your assets increase, you have the power to manage them effectively. Real estate firms with successful online image management solutions know only too well the potential this brings.

What are the challenges of digital asset management?

In truth, in the digital age we live in, it’s hard to put forward a strong case against using DAM. However, any new system needs to be selected, implemented and adopted correctly to reap the many benefits that it offers. An organization, adopting DAM, needs to consider the following to ensure success:

  • Ownership and user adoption - DAM needs to be adopted by the whole organization to work effectively. Users need to be consulted to ensure the DAM solution fits their needs. Once a system is implemented they need to be trained and supported. You will need to have someone within your organization who is responsible for running the DAM on a daily basis and who takes ownership. If you don’t it could turn into yet another system that isn’t used effectively and, therefore, that doesn’t reap the potential benefits.
  • Integration - your DAM system will need to work alongside other systems you already use such as your CMS or CRM. You will either need to have a DAM system with an API so it can talk and transfer data between systems or you will need to transfer data manually. If you need to move files manually then there is a time and money consideration especially when your digital assets are continually growing. You need to consider integration to ensure consistency if assets are being used and changed within multiple systems.
  • Metadata - One of the main benefits of DAM is the ability to search easily for assets. As we’ve learnt, this is done by tagging assets using metadata. However, if your metadata isn’t up to scratch then your DAM won’t be either. This isn’t down to the system you use but, in fact, to your investment of time upfront to include the necessary metadata when assets are created. You need to organize your data and describe it in a way that facilitates search. This is especially relevant in relation to online image management; if you can’t find it then you can’t use it. The future of tagging digital assets is changing with the growth of Artificial Intelligence (AI). A DAM using AI will allow images to be automatically identified and tagged accordingly. This will reduce the manpower needed and ensure DAMs are realizing their full potential.
  • Cost - you will need to consider the ongoing cost of your DAM system as your organization grows. The great thing, especially for cloud-based DAM, is its scalability. Although costs may seem high these need to be balanced against the return on investment (ROI) over time.

What is the return on investment of digital asset management?

Calculating the ROI for your DAM isn’t a straightforward sum. However, it is certainly measurable with a bit of groundwork. It starts with putting a value on your digital assets themselves and then moves to considering the time spent creating the asset and the cost of recreation. The cost of recreation is particularly relevant within the AEC and Real Estate industries where photos are paramount to their success. The next consideration is the complexity of the organization. The more users you have in different locations, all requiring access to your digital assets, often simultaneously, the bigger your ROI. It’s worth bearing in mind that ROI isn’t a static figure. ROI needs to be continually evaluated as part of a DAM strategy to ensure the system being used continues to deliver and meet users needs.

With every organization creating and acquiring more digital assets the need for management will undoubtedly continue to grow. There are pros and cons to digital asset management but, for the most part, the disadvantages can be avoided. DAM offers a scalable solution that can grow along with your digital assets. Ensure your solution meets your organization's needs and has organization-wide buy-in and you’ll reap the rewards.

Join others in a live demo on Thursday 29th November to see how OpenAsset works and how our now AI-powered features can help improve your firm's management of digital assets. View the agenda and register for a live demo below. 

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