In today's challenging economic environment, small businesses need to focus on cost-effective digital asset management (DAM) solutions with the highest return on investment to remain profitable. Innovations in technology enable companies to benefit from cloud-based communications and DAM systems to increase reliability, functionality, and productivity.
What is digital asset management?
Digital asset management encompasses all guidelines and best practices for the sharing of digital files among several parties. DAM includes not just what you see when you open your files but also the information underlying them, including metadata and engagement tracking. DAM governs the cloud systems to which your team uploads and stores its work, enables the sending of digital assets to other parties, and builds the backbone of most modern companies.
How do digital asset management systems help businesses?
Small business DAM solutions are ideal for organizing, storing, and sharing the rich media resources of a company. That's because different teams, channels, and departments need to store and share creative assets – such as videos, images, podcasts, and media in other formats – to accomplish the organization's goals.
In an era defined by digital communication and remote work, effectively managing digital assets is the only real way to adequately streamline your workflow. Without managing your digital assets, you can't easily convey key information – such as project updates or newly generated invoices – to your clients and vendors. DAM gives your company a virtual file cabinet with folders for all of your needs – a space that holds much more information than a physical file cabinet ever could.
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Who benefits from digital asset management software?
Virtually everyone involved in any business transaction benefits from DAM software. That's largely because proper management of your digital assets puts all your key materials in reach with just a few clicks while storing these files in the cloud. As such, you'll never spend money or time searching for or replacing lost materials, and you and your team will benefit from DAM software.
Your clients, vendors, and other business partners will benefit from DAM software as well. You'll need just a few seconds to share files stored in your DAM system with people from outside your organization, and you can easily do so while permitting only certain people to access your files. Most DAM platforms include security safeguards that limit access to a predetermined group, so you can share sensitive files outside your organization with minimal worry of an information breach. With this fortified security comes more trust between you and the many third parties with which you work.
Why manage digital assets?
To reach potential and existing customers, small businesses use digital assets – such as images, videos, streaming music, online catalogs, e-books, and other forms of media – in marketing campaigns. As such, small businesses need DAM systems to find these assets quickly and, in turn, create, track, organize, and distribute them.
Useful digital assets for small businesses
Digital assets are pieces of content that are stored digitally and are valuable to a business, a consumer, or a user. These are the most common types:
- Slide decks, such as Google Slides and PowerPoint presentations
- Excel spreadsheets
- Text files
- Word documents
- Graphics, such as logos
- HTML documents and associated files, such as CSS
- Audio files
Some digital assets are more valuable than others. For example, videos and photos from a one-time event can't be replaced. Small businesses often pay a licensing fee for the right to use a photo or video. If the company can't find the asset, the only options are to pay for another licensing fee, which is a waste of money.
Another example is a digital user manual or e-book that contains a variety of assets, such as images, diagrams, and charts. When you are creating a project like this, having an effective digital asset management solution in place will save you a lot of time and money.
How can small businesses benefit from digital asset management?
The digital revolution drives consumers' behavior and expectations. Digital and marketing tools make companies more accessible and help businesses connect with their customers.
Traditionally, DAM systems were too expensive for many small businesses, but the cloud has revolutionized today's DAM software by delivering a better user experience and more features at prices smaller companies can afford.
By using digital asset management software and tools, small businesses can boost productivity, improve collaboration, save time, and reduce costs. Here are some of the ways small businesses benefit from DAM software:
- Saving time by integrating DAM software into existing workflows
- Adding a layer of protection from theft and privacy with cloud-based DAM systems
- Spending less money on hardware storage with online cloud-based DAM systems
- Improving efficiency by using a DAM tool, rather than a team of people, to handle digital assets
- Increasing productivity with faster deployment of marketing materials and campaigns
- Easily accessing assets for team members and co-workers from one centralized location
- Fine-tuning how assets are uploaded and distributed, such as by setting expiration dates and file permissions
- Ensuring brand consistency by reducing the chances of someone using an older version of branded materials across campaigns and channels
- Saving time and money by reusing assets
Growth of digital assets
The global DAM market is expected to see significant growth by 2026. According to the Digital Asset Management Market – Growth, Trends, and Forecast (2021-26) report, the DAM market was valued at around $2.96 billion in 2020 and is projected to grow to around $9.16 billion by 2026. The projected rapid and exponential growth of digital asset management is due to these factors:
- Concerns about misplaced or lost data
- The need for better collaboration tools and processes because of increased globalization
- More focus on customer engagement and the need for consistent messaging across all devices
- The increased use of cloud solutions and big data analytics
- The emergence of artificial intelligence, including facial, optical character, and speech recognition
Future DAM systems will serve companies that are looking for cost-effective ways to organize, store, find, retrieve, and distribute digital assets with a high level of security. These are the top five projected trends for digital asset management:
- Artificial intelligence
- Cloud-based DAM
- Metadata management
Digital asset management strategies
These are some of the most common reasons small businesses implement DAM systems:
- They want to reduce the number of asset requests from co-workers or team members.
- They need to centralize assets that are spread out over various cloud storage systems and personal hard drives.
- They are tired of spending time finding the files they need to complete a task or project.
The decision to use a DAM system is the first step for small businesses to get control over their digital assets and determine the best way to manage and analyze New Technology File System (NTFS) permissions and data streams. However, without a comprehensive strategy, assets can get lost, be stored without proper security, or become disorganized.
Before you implement a DAM system, develop a coordinated strategy that will identify what the assets are, why they have been created, and how they should be used. Follow these steps to get started:
1. Outline your goals.
Focus on the reasons for implementing a DAM system, and outline your main objectives for the software. Define a coordinated approach to creating or acquiring digital assets, including a method for handling third-party licensing issues and version control.
If your goal is to improve the efficiency of digital communication systems, becoming aware of cloud communication trends, along with cost and productivity benefits in cloud-based communication assets, can enable you to move into new areas of technology and communication efficiency.
If your goal is to improve internal processes, use process management software to help you manage your assets, inventory, staff, and other aspects of your business in productive ways. These systems enable expansion and improve accountability, and they can grow with your business.
2. Identify your criteria for digital asset management software.
Analyze existing workflows to compile a list of criteria for choosing the right software. Consider these factors:
- How many current users will need access to your system, and what is your projected growth (need to scale)?
- Which hosting option will work best for your company?
- How many people will need access to the assets?
3. Perform a content audit.
By conducting an audit of your assets, you will get a clear overview of what you currently have, how it is being used, and why it was created or acquired. This information will help you establish requirements for how to use and manage the assets and improve your content, ultimately resulting in a better return on your investment.
4. Understand the customer journey.
Understanding the customer journey enables businesses to know what they are building and for whom. This knowledge helps to translate business requirements into digital asset specifications that you can measure and optimize to achieve business goals.
5. Organize the life cycle of digital assets.
The life cycle of an asset encompasses the following steps:
- Creating or acquiring the asset
- Verifying the asset was added to the system without data errors
- Checking the quality
- Updating, extracting, or entering metadata information
- Ensuring asset retrieval is a smooth process based on available criteria
- Converting asset formation that is suitable for editing or delivery
- Exporting asset files, including all necessary components
- Storing and archiving large files in cost-effective long-term storage locations
- Distributing the asset
6. Determine the software requirements.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for digital asset management systems. Analyze your needs and requirements before spending money on a solution. Small businesses will likely need less storage space than larger organizations with multiple departments and locations. Choose the system that meets your objectives and needs.
7. Consider how digital asset management will integrate with other systems.
Small businesses utilize many systems and processes to accomplish their business goals. Be sure the DAM software you choose integrates well with the other systems your company uses.
8. Implement digital asset management.
Implement the DAM system in small steps by identifying the top priorities and acting on those first. Put together a task force that will implement the system. Spend the necessary time to plan what will work best for everyone who will be using the system, and include them in the planning process. This approach helps teams work together to build an effective solution before it is rolled out company-wide.
9. Set up best practices, and enforce guidelines.
To reduce the number of errors, train your team on how to make the best use of the DAM software you select. Explain the steps, reasons, and goals of the system, and encourage a culture of shared responsibility.
10. Use workflows.
It's better to assign tasks to specific users than to task everyone with every step in the workflow. Build workflows that define these operations:
- Obtaining files
- Attaching metadata information
- Modifying or renaming original files
- Organizing, cataloging, and tagging
- Documenting the process in writing
Small businesses can maintain control over their digital assets and coordinate user access to content by implementing a DAM system. Having a single repository for all assets will streamline the digital asset management process.
Max Freedman contributed to the writing and research in this article.