What is Digital Asset Management (DAM) and Why Do I Need It?

“Digital asset management is the organization, the management and the ability to leverage all of your assets within one central repository.”

– Liz McClellan, CMO, Northplains

“It’s basically a vault for keeping all the content that an organization produces, all the way back to historical content that can now be digitized, to the contemporary content, video snippets, audio files, images, graphics, product information. Really, the sky’s the limit and a digital asset management solution really provides for the safekeeping but also the accessibility of that content.”

– Gregg Schoonover, CTO, Northplains

All About DAM

The assumption appears to be that everyone who may need a DAM is familiar with this acronym for a Digital Asset Management application. However, in my experience working with many companies’ IT, marketing and creative teams – as well as partners – creative and digital agencies would suggest this isn’t necessarily always the case. Whilst there is a lot of information regarding the technical – feature & functional – capabilities of various DAM applications available, this information is generally coupled with a view that a DAM is primarily a back-end repository for digital assets management and the curating or stewardship of those assets. I, therefore, thought it might be useful to look at some of the changes in the use cases that I have been involved in over the last few years to help people understand when a DAM may be applicable to them – or at least warrant further investigation.

The Changing Face of DAM

In summary, the requirements for a DAM, in my experience, have shifted over the last few years from a simple repository to a highly-integrated application, working in conjunction with other business platforms such as CRM and PIM. Companies require that their DAM solution integrate into the creation and campaign process, opening the assets to a much broader audience of internal and external users and partners. In each case, or combination of cases, the paradigm is shifted from the DAM from being a static library of assets into a living application within some core and strategic business process, potentially across the whole enterprise.

Certainly the ability to speed up and enrich the production and release of assets into core business processes, whether B2B, B2C, or some combination of both has been a key driver for a number of large global brands recently. This approach has led many organisations to transition from utilising several mini-DAMs to investing in one consolidated DAM platform that services the enterprise as a whole. For assets, the goal is to increase speed to market , promote global standards, and maximise the return on the investment made on the assets themselves through re-use. For a marketing team, the goal is to do all of this alongside more universal requirements for market compliance, rights management and localisation.

The management of the asset creation process has also undergone some fundamental changes. Many organisations are now looking to better manage initial creative briefs and iterations they typically engender by giving regional teams visibility of the asset creation process as well as the assets themselves. This means coordinating the production of the assets between the corporate marketing team and the internal team, and possibly a third-party agency. This centralised view of asset production meets a number of requirements relevant to the approach that many organisations are taking to improve the production process. This approach also fundamentally cuts costs on the asset production itself, creative agency streamlining, and asset re-use and compliance.

Digital Asset Management Solutions Aid Distribution

The final major shift from the simple repository view alluded to above is the distribution use case for assets held in the DAM. This shift has seen many organisations benefit from the release of user-friendly interfaces, accessible by a much broader community of asset consumers. Similar to an self-service intranet, the interface can be used to promote the re-use of assets, ensure assets are used in the correct formats for communications, or that the latest preferred assets are used. Alternatively, this may be used to promote assets being used by third parties – particularly retail partners – to increase the speed to market of new assets, promote an asset’s use for a new product or event launch, and promote asset consistency and availability across a region. This is particularly important in the case of multiple markets, when localisation of centrally-created assets is required on a regular basis. This may include language translation, local compliance or delivery to a corporate entity that has limited local marketing functions.

The general investment in global infrastructure in terms of available bandwidth, mobile access, Cloud storage and delivery means the latter two use cases are now more readily achievable and cost effective than ever before. The natural extension of this expansion of the enterprise DAM application into the asset creation and consumption process, particularly the integrated network of creative, marketing and third party agencies, becomes the alignment to Brand Asset Management.

For companies wanting to simplify the search and use of digital assets, increase return on investment of assets, and manage the creation and costs of assets to promote and manage their brand in the market, a DAM maybe be the answer. Contact Northplains today for more information.

Richard Price
Country Manager UK & ROI