How to choose a Digital Asset Management (DAM) solution in Australia
March 18, 2021 •Antra Silova
It is 2021 and it is very likely you have heard of a DAM, a digital asset management software. Just in the last 5 years the DAM market has exploded with literally 100+ solutions worldwide providing digital asset management. However, in reality not all match the true DAM concept which includes, besides the obvious online asset management, a robust taxonomy and metadata management, an asset editing and conversion capability, and sophisticated file sharing including size pre-sets and file link compressions. While not all vendors are present in Australia, Asia Pacific is expected to see the highest growth rate within the DAM industry marketplace worldwide.
This article is here to help you in the selection process when you’re looking to purchase a digital asset management software in this region. Let’s discuss things to consider, questions to ask, and mistakes to avoid. We will also provide a comparison of 7 popular vendors that offer their DAM solutions in Australia.
Selecting the right DAM for you
With so many solutions available how can you know which one is right for your organisation? You need to do some investigation into the processes that you currently have in place, see where the pain points are, understand what you want the DAM to do.
With plethora of DAM solutions available, often there is little similarity of what the product really does. There are many small local vendors that have created bespoke DAM solutions to support their mainstream business and offer their customers outsourced DAM capability against larger organisations that have created DAM solutions that address a more general marketplace digital asset management needs instead of offering that in addition to other services. Best not to confuse these types of options and among other imperatives consider who created the DAM and who are you purchasing it from.
Here is a list of 10 things to consider when you’re sorting through the many DAM vendors.
If a decade ago almost all DAM solutions were hosted on-premise, today a cloud-based DAM is the most popular solution for most types of businesses and organisations. While there are still organisations with special requirements for which for example storing data on a server located overseas would translate into a violation, today the cloud technology giants such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) offer secure data centres located around the world, including in Australia. Here are 3 reasons why Cloud is King in the post Covid-19 era.
Two of the most popular cloud service providers – Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure are behind most of the top DAM software. Besides providing highly secure data centres, the benefit of having these tech giants as a base of your digital asset management technology is just that – the world-class technology they provide, allowing for introduction of new and powerful features in blink of an eye.
What if a DAM solution you’re considering is not hosted on AWS or Azure? It’s possible it is being developed in-house and is hosted on a local server. This type of technology, while being low-cost, might be unreliable and prone to system failures that take time to being resolved. In addition, any updates to software would require additional investment and new functionality may take long time to develop. Questions to ask: is the hardware and network infrastructure capable of handling the DAM software and data transfer needs? If not, what will the upgrades cost?
3. Resources and innovation
Typically, global DAM vendors have vast resources available and dedicated to product development and innovation, and their teams are always looking at improving their solutions. Smaller DAM vendors usually lack in this area with their resources limited innovation is not on top of their list. The issues here might arise if a problem occurs with a user’s solution (or a customer has a new requirement) that requires creative problem-solving, if a vendor cannot innovate it is unlikely that they’ll be able to help here.
Is your data stored in ISO 27001 compliant data centre? Will your digital assets be safe in the event of a system failure or another catastrophic event? After making sure your data will be stored in a secure environment, you should consider what type of user access authentication would be appropriate for your organisation, and if access permissions need to be included for other employees, global teams, and external parties.
5. Reporting and analytics
Do you have compliance requirements? Having an audit trail and tool to monitor user behaviour (downloads, uploads, search queries, etc.) is an important capability to have and might be essential for some organisations. Does the vendor offer appropriate reporting and analytics tools?
6. Digital Rights Management
If there are copyrighted assets in your library, will you need to control the use, modification, distribution of such assets?
How will your DAM solution integrate within your current IT environment? Along with the 3 must-have capabilities of a DAM mentioned earlier in this article, integrating with your other apps and systems is essential. A robust API and out-of-the-box integrations should be a core requirement of any DAM. What an integration lets you do is allow your other systems to exchange data with the DAM, for example, pulling assets from your DAM directly into Photoshop for editing.
Cloud storage can be expensive if you have large amounts of data. Archive, or cold storage, preserves your inactive content (or even large raw files that were used in recent content but are not currently needed) until it’s needed again. In this way you are able to save space, money and time. Some DAMs will offer an archiving workflow where assets with an expiration date can be automatically archived upon expiration.
When you’re looking at a DAM functionality it is easy to get carried away with all the great capabilities a DAM can offer. It is important first and foremost to clarify what do you want the DAM to do? What problem/s do you need it to solve? Who will be uploading assets to your DAM and who will be accessing them, using them? And what are their needs? And then depending on your budget you can review other desired functionality offered.
Ultimately, you will have to know your budget. DAM selection process can be quite time consuming, for both the vendor and an organisation in search of a DAM, so knowing your budget limitations is essential. Here we can go back to point 9 in this list – it is important to be clear what your “must-haves” are so your solution can cover those essential requirements before you look at other capabilities.