Digital asset management explained to Australian IT manager
November 10, 2022 •Ricky Patten
The global digital asset management marketplace is expected to double from the current 2022 estimate of USD$4 billion, over the next five years. According to IT industry the current adoption of DAM solutions is approximately 50%. Many of these DAM solutions already deployed are on the out and out, they are typically on-premise installations using redundant technology.
With Amazon providing a highly optimised solution framework for digital asset management, from AI automated image and video analysis to secure delivery of content with low latency and high transfer speeds, all modern DAMs now need to be considered in the context of how much of Amazon’s capabilities (i.e., stack) do they utilise?
For the modern-day IT/ITS Manager/Administrator in Australia and New Zealand, either having a DAM software now, or having a plan to deploy a DAM solution at a more suitable time is a pressing need. Depending upon your business users, what content and how do they use content, what the organisations’ overall business needs are, and then how to stitch this all together within a budget and well governed IT infrastructure is a growing challenge.
This article provides you with a current, 2022-2023, overview of digital asset management delving into the particulars that concern you, the IT/ITS Manager/Administrator, within the context of the local Australian and New Zealand region.
What is Digital Asset Management?
Digital asset management (DAM) is the process and associated solutions for the management of digital assets.
Digital assets are electronic files that have an intrinsic value, such as images, videos, audio, complex Word docs, PowerPoint. Could be applied to any electronic file that has a value attached and the organisation wants to retain access. Digital assets are often referred to as content.
Key unique factor of a DAM solution is the life cycle that is intrinsic to the digital assets themselves, which preferably should be facilitated by usage of a DAM. Simple cases of this could be how content is uploaded and approved for usage; more complex instances might involve how the content is originally commissioned for a particular purpose and thus has specific copyright or usage rights that must be adhered to. Longer term content storage, retrieval and eventually archival of content complete the digital assets’ lifecycle.
Closely related solutions
Specifically - the management of an organisation’s brand. Brand management overlaps with DAM in many cases, i.e., some digital asset management systems have brand management capabilities, and some brand management solutions have DAM capabilities. To distinguish between the two, you need to be clear whether you’d want to primarily manage brand or digital assets?
Document management focuses on documents, most typically Word and PDF. Often involves the automated creation of part or whole of the document. Typically, a log of the contents which has an intrinsic value, the end-product, i.e., document, may be expendable. Minimal cross over with DAM, around 20%.
Media asset management
An old/previous term for DAM from the 1990s. Currently recoined to add additional levels of processing or workflow to a DAM. For example, newspaper, TV media production environment often termed media asset management. Medium level of cross over, around 35%, some media asset management solutions are workflows built on top of a DAM.
Typical scenarios prior to DAM
Lack of single source of truth
Digital assets are stored in multiple locations across the network:
- Local drives
- Network drives
- Web sites
Digital assets are kept by external providers:
Silos of digital assets locally maintained by specialised business groups:
- Marketing, communications
- Web site team
- Local studies groups
- Media teams
within organisation between content rich and content poor users. General business users have little/no access to digital assets and resort to extreme measures to access content, such as Google, screen grabs of existing documents, hoarding of content on USB devices, and more.
Poor financial management
of costs associated with creation and usage of content. Good example is that more content is paid to be created than used. i.e., duplication of effort and cost due to lack of sharing/access.
- Security and privacy
- Governance and usage rights
- Inappropriate usage
- Lack or inconsistent branding
Increasing or unjustifiable costs
associated with maintaining large amounts of content on network. Often digital assets are being “hidden” by users, but still occupying storage. Little to no knowledge what content is being paid for at a storage level.
Main purpose of DAM
Digital assets are centrally stored in a fit for purpose digital asset management solution. Access to content is managed, i.e., integrated with SSO, and controlled by user/group permissions that are well understood and documented within the organisation. Strong emphasis is placed on a balance between meeting the needs of specialist content strong users, general access to suitable content for content poor users, and the business/IT values of the organisation.
Range of capabilities exist under the broad heading of processes and workflows, that ensure correct procedures are in place to meet the organisation’s need for responsible management of digital assets, and to ensure the needs of the various business groups are met.
Costs are controlled and understood.
Security, privacy and other mainstream concerns are well understood and met.
Business Case - Benefits
Protecting the monetary investment in digital assets by the business.
Reducing the internal infrastructure costs required to maintain a large volume of digital assets as a network accessible resource.
Strong security and privacy protection.
Alignment and enabling of the organisation’s business model for the life cycle of digital assets:
- Processes, workflows and structure for the production of content
- Accessibility by meaningful search phrases and browsing categorisation, i.e., findability
- Distribution of content within a controlled and audited environment
- Long term strategy for the retention of content in a costly manner
Main Business Users
Best viewed from the point of view of Consumers vs Contributors.
Consumer profile is much like yourself, you don’t create or manage content, you simply needs to have access when you need content. For example, approved imagery to add to a PowerPoint presentation or Word document that you are authoring. Search, retrieve, use …. Keep on going with your daily tasks.
Contributors are the creators, or maybe the team members who interact with external creators such as photographers, videographers, design agencies, and are entrusted with delivering content to the business Consumers in suitable format. Depending upon your business segment this could be
Private sector – marketing, communications
Public sector – communications, wide range of business units such as local studies involved with specific collections of content
Education – website, design, marketing
You will also need to identify the administrators of the DAM solution. Most typically these will be key team leaders within the main Contributors in your organisation. Longer term planning will typically involve the appointment of a job role for the administration of the DAM, at which time this person might be allocated within a business unit whose specific interest is the overview business objectives of the organisation and will be tasked with liaising between the Consumers and Contributors.
The price of a DAM solution has varied from desktop solutions selling for $300 per user twenty years ago to high profile solutions selling for over $200,000.
The current SaaS marketplace determines the value of a solution. These days the most typical accepted value for the annual renewal of a DAM solution varies from between $10,000-50,000. Additional services vary from a limited program of onboarding often provided with the initial sale, to +/-$5,000 annual charge for a much more comprehensive onboarding solution.
Who does not need a DAM
Managing digital assets is endemic to the modern-day business environment. There are only a few business sectors who do not use visual content in their day-to-day activities, and of those many are starting to move to a content-based workflow in response to demands from users and customers.
Two clear cases where there is not sufficient justification to invest in a DAM solution are:
The number of digital assets to be managed is small, i.e., less than 1,000 in total, more like +/- 100
The organisation places no value on digital assets.
Lack of user adoption
Most organisations and their users are quite capable of performing their day-to-day activities without a DAM, there is little to no need to compel a user to use a DAM. The DAM must be desirable to use, providing ease of use and attractive capabilities.
If user adoption fails, the investment will be a loss.
Solutions too specific not addressing general needs
Most organisations requirements for DAM are quite broad with little specialisation. From original main adage of DAM in the 1990s of “Can’t find it can’t use it” there has been little change in business requirements. Most typical business requirements can be typified as core DAM plus a range of simple wins.
Selecting a solution that focuses on a specific usage case or business requirement is likely to fall short of the broader requirements and prove to be of minimal success to most business users.
Future viability of provider lacking
Since the advent of DAM, 1990s, there has been many small to medium sized vendors which provide boutique DAM solutions. At the time of writing there are probably as many as ten (10) such companies in Australia and four (4) in New Zealand. Typical size of such organisations ranges from 10-30 staff and have very limited funding, i.e., rely on cash income.
The DAM marketplace is now global mainstream and gaining the attention of well-established software/solution vendors and key investors alike. Think of companies with hundreds of employees, over $40 million turnover, double digit growth and excess of $100 million investment funding. Over the next five years these major players will come to dominate the marketplace. At which time the current small to medium sized players will be squeezed out due to their inability to remain competitive in the marketplace.
Is your DAM provider listed in the top 10 globally? Will they still be there in five years’ time?