What is digital asset management?

Digital asset management is the process of effectively managing digital assets, creating a ‘single source of truth’, and enabling global access to all of the assets. Companies and individuals tend to use a digital asset management (DAM) solution to centralise all of their digital assets, from photos and images to Powerpoint presentations and 3D renders.

Many DAM systems enable additional workflow within them, including cutting and cropping images or video, splitting up PDFs into their requisite pages, adding watermarks to images, and also full optical character recognition (OCR) on text based documents. The DAM systems also enable the secure sharing and distribution of these assets with stakeholders. These can be internal staff, staff working remotely, contractors, clients and third party agencies.

What does a digital asset management system actually do?

A digital asset management solution stores each individual digital asset (photo, video, audio file, document to name a few) and the attached metadata. The metadata is the key part here, as it provides all of the information about the actual asset. Everything from the colours used in the asset, the person or building pictured/described, the geographic location the asset was taken or made, emotions that can be linked to the asset, even down to the software and hardware used to construct the digital asset.

The DAM system can then be used like a search engine to find the exact asset you are looking for, very quickly. Once discovered, DAM based assets can be linked together in ‘collections’ or ‘light boxes’ as many times as you like. The digital asset management system enables users to then distribute or share the individual assets or collections with people inside and outside the organisation.

What is the definition of a digital asset management system?

A database driven system that is used to organise, accurately categorize, as well as share and securely distribute, all formats of digital assets; ranging from images and photos, to slides and InDesign files.

Which digital assets can a DAM handle?

In a nutshell, any type of digital resource can be stored in a DAM, including images, photos, 3D renders, video files, audio files, presentation slides, documents, PDFs, architectural sketches, HTML files, XML files, CSS files, and many more. Many enterprise level DAMs will provide preview functionality for the more common file formats, allowing you to view them from within the DAM system. This includes PDF viewers, picture viewers and inbuilt video players.

What are the benefits of digital asset management?

  • No longer being tied to your office computer, accessing digital assets from any device with a browser, from anywhere in the world
  • Never having to get embarrassed again in presentations when someone has used the ‘old logo’
  • Getting back your work life balance with no more late night phone calls, asking where the presentation template is
  • Freeing up your time with no more having to crop images for someone ‘who doesn’t have Photoshop access’
  • No more having to use Hightail or WeTransfer for large file transfers and compromising your internal security policy
  • No more worrying about when an image license runs out - once its run out the image will no longer be available
  • Save time & money with no more having to call the design team just to get access to the latest 300dpi logo
  • Get back to the important stuff and never lose a digital asset again - Contractors, photographers & copywriters can upload their work directly to you securely, from anywhere, on any device

What are the key features of a digital asset management solution?

The enterprise level DAM solutions should all have features including the list below:

  • Mobile & Desktop Access - The ability to use any device with a web browser to access your assets from anywhere around the world is crucial
  • Super Simple Upload - Uploading assets should be extremely simple, and the ability to upload them either singularly or in bulk is a key feature
  • Google-Style Search - Easily search across all assets & even inside PDFs using a simple search interface that all of your users are used to
  • File Preview - Popular file types including images, video, audio and PDFs need to be visible within the software, without having to download them first
  • File Adjustments - The ability to cut & crop images and video inside the DAM, and not disturb a popular workflow saves a huge amount of time for all users
  • Asset Metadata - All associated metadata should be visible right next to the digital asset, so that you can see how it has been classified and you can amend the tags if required
  • Version Control - Full version control of every asset, with data logging & reporting means that an audit trail exists for each item in the DAM. This ensures assets cannot be accidently deleted or overwritten
  • Lightbox Collections - The ability to group assets easily into multiple collections, no matter the filetype allows you to personally categorise the assets you use most often without disrupting the ability of others to classify the same assets
  • Embed Your Media - Assets stored in your DAM can be embed across the web with embed codes provided next to the assets, so you can host your image collection on the DAM and embed the collection within your website
  • Tenants, Groups & Users - Being able to give specific users or organisations access to certain assets & time limit the access to these assets makes it easy to adhere to any asset licensing agreements automatically
  • Date Expiry - Revoke access to assets based on date, even after you’ve shared them
  • Watermarks - Some DAMS will allow you to set assets to be automatically watermarked to add that extra level of security
  • Sharing Assets Securely - Share assets securely with no file size limitations & revocable access, even after you’ve shared it, meaning that nobody has to use file transfer sites and ignore company security policies any longer
  • Insightful Reporting - From how many times an asset has been downloaded, to which users have used the DAM system in the last month, all of these reports should be at your fingertips
  • Continuous Metadata Improvement - The ability to continuously improve the metadata which has been assigned to assets is easy when you run a report showing all of the search phrases used to find assets, and searches that there were no results for
  • Who’s Been Sent Assets - See exactly who assets have been sent to, which third parties are using your assets and when they were granted access to them
  • Unused Assets - Report on all assets that haven’t been viewed or downloaded

In addition to all of the above ResourceSpace digital asset management solution also offers the following additional features:

  • 40 Plugins Included - The plugins extend the initial ‘out-of-the-box’ functionality considerably, allowing everything from integration into ecommerce system and InDesign, to video splicing Optical Character Recognition (OCR) of text
  • Automatically Tag Assets - Using our Google Vision plugin, images are automatically analysed and relevant metadata suggested using Google’s artificial intelligence
  • Plugin Development - Integration with any non connected software is easy thanks to our inhouse Software Development Team. Whether its integration with Wordpress, SalesForce or your own bespoke software, our team can build and support something that will achieve it
  • Fully Documented API - Fully documented commercial API allows swift integration with your existing systems either by us or your own developers

What are the main uses for a digital asset management solution?

Brand managers, communications specialists & marketing managers - Use their DAMs to ensure that brand consistency is achieved across their businesses. They want the most up to date logo, the latest presentation template and the latest training video being used by everyone across the organisation.

Designers & digital agencies - Use their DAMs to share files across the business without having to use unsecure file sharing websites. They often have part of their DAM set up and branded for their Clients, so they can login in and see their digital assets that the designer or agency have provided for them.

News organisations & magazines - Use their DAMs to facilitate 24 hour news, as well as house all of their digital assets. Reporters who are on the ground in far flung places across the globe can upload their copy, images, audio and video directly to the DAM from any device. The news organisation then has immediate secure access to it, and can edit it within seconds of it being filed.

Photographers & videographers - Use their DAMs to house all of their digital media files, both in raw unedited formats and as complete final products. They can make specific collections of assets available to individual Clients, whilst keeping all of their other assets securely hidden. Their DAMs also allow them to access all of their assets even when they are on location, or out on pitches with Clients.

IT departments - Use their DAMs to ensure that company security policies are being followed. The DAM records every file that is shared, by whom and with whom it was shared; ensuring a full audit trail.

Company board directors - Use their DAMs to securely store and access highly confidential digital assets for corporate governance; including financial reports, board meeting notes, sales projections and M & A target data.

What things do you need to consider when selecting a DAM?

The first thing to consider when selecting a digital asset management system is whether to host it in house (called on premise) on to use a SaaS (cloud based) solution. Whilst many people may have a specific preference, the most popular route today is the SaaS or cloud based option.

Security concerns are often cited as a reason for not using cloud based DAMs, when in fact in house DAM deployments tend to be much less secure.

As an example the ResourceSpace Enterprise Cloud solution is hosted and backed up across two physically separate hosting locations in Europe. The hosting locations have military grade access controls, a number of backup power supplies, redundant fire suppression systems and internet connectivity from numerous independent providers for failover purposes. Compare that to the average in house server solution, which may not even be being backed up offsite every day.

Can you access the digital assets via mobile or tablet devices?

With a DAM solution like ResourceSpace you can access all of your digital assets using any device that has a web browser. The security used is the same as that used by your banking app, so your data is completely secure even when you access it via mobile devices.

Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is a term often banded around, which basically means how much will the solution cost to run? Choosing an open source solution such as ResourceSpace means that the capital expenditure for the actual system software is £0, and the only costs are for server hardware, any additional plugin development and support.