More than in any other period, today’s businesses, corporations and organizations rely heavily on data to be effective and successful. And with an interconnected world, data and information come fast and in enormous volume that accumulate day in and day out. For easier handling and storage, data is encoded in digital format and, whatever type of file or content they may be, they form your rich media or digital assets. It is therefore essential that you get the best or most suitable digital asset management tools for your business.
However, there are some things you first need to assess such as the current state of your business, processes, workflows and infrastructure, among other things. It would help if you consider certain factors in your choice of DAM software programs such as the types of digital assets you use, the challenges or issues faced by your company or brand in relation to those digital assets, the primary users of the software, and the benefits you will derive from using such software platforms.
Basically, our detailed comparisons show that your DAM software should have the following key attributes:
- Scalability – Can it handle your expanding digital assets and the increasing number of users that will access and use them? Can it be configured to fit your requirements and budget?
- Hosting options – Is it on cloud, web-based or on-premise? Can it be used with a combination of these options? Can it be deployed quickly?
- Features – Is it intuitive and user-friendly? Does it have the basic functionalities expected of a DAM software? Is there any capability unique to this platform? Is it future-proof?
- Security – Are there mechanisms in place to ensure that your digital assets are safe and secure? Does it have ample safeguards and backup?
- Help and support – Does the vendor offer knowledge (demo, trainings, webinars), technical (in-person) and other kinds of support (live chat, phone, email), and can you rely on them when you need them?
Get to know each product with free trial
If you are planning to get a digital asset management software, it is best that you first try out some of the leading tools. There are dozens of DAM platforms in the market and it would be to your advantage to go over the demo and avail free trial plans normally offered by digital asset management software providers. It would give you the opportunity to explore firsthand the claimed features and capabilities and also do a comparison. You can also visit software review sites such as ours whose experts scrutinize such products and rate them according to a set of industry standards as well as user satisfaction. This way you get all the information you need to fine-tune your search. We recommend you try out the free trials of the apps that have been given high rankings in our digital asset management software reviews.
Individual entrepreneurs and startups to mid-sized businesses and global corporations can benefit from having a platform to manage their digital assets. In fact, any organization of whatever size and niche striving to optimize existing digital asset processes will find it necessary to have a DAM system. Specifically, businesses involving or having teams, departments and partners listed below will be greatly served by a digital asset management software.
- Admins/HR – personnel records, trainings, activities and performance as well as organizational support are increasing being recorded on digital documents that become part of your digital assets that are stored and regularly retrieved.
- Sales teams – streamlines sales process with the most up-to-date digital resources that can be readily accessed when needed. Brand consistency is maintained all throughout sales and marketing activities.
- Marketing teams – helps organize, track and manage digital files in one location regardless of different file types. This facilitates creation of brand-aligned campaign materials and boosts marketing campaigns.
- Design department – improves creative workflows with a convenient and quick tool to find files. Valuable time is saved by design professionals who can just repurpose digital assets instead of searching for or recreating images.
- IT department – a DAM platform hosted on cloud won’t require deployments, installations, maintaining onsite servers, different file sending solutions or new file security mechanisms.
- Distributors – optimizes distribution process across your network by always having the latest on-brand assets available.
- Agencies – both client and users can enjoy a professional experience with a branded web portal that keeps digital files and resources organized.
What are Examples of Digital Asset Management Software?
- Asset Bank: a robust digital asset management software that helps you gain complete control over your assets with ease, powerful features, and numerous configuration options to match your needs. This competitively priced solution is available for deployment in the cloud and on-premise giving you a flexible option on your preferred implementation model.
- Canto: a feature-filled solution with a modern design and advanced search function for accurately finding assets. It comes in two versions: the Flight, a cloud-based system for storing, accessing and managing your assets; and the server-based Cumulus, for enterprise that need a heavy-duty DAM system.
- Widen Collective: a digital asset management software with intuitive interface and dashboard that allows quick access to most-used functions such as search, upload tools and activity display, for expediting workflows. It can ably manage assets down to details such as applying expirations, digital rights and versions.
- Third Light IMS: a digital media management tool and library that comes in standard, premium and enterprise editions. It allows, among others, tailoring your library to suit your business, integration with your CMS, sharing directly to social media, and secure downloading of digital files.
- WebDAM: cloud platform that offers unlimited storage for unlimited users aside from having lots of functionalities. It is built not only to handle digital assets but also to manage brands and creative projects.
- Filecamp: an on cloud platform designed for all companies that share and collaborate on media files. It also has special features for creative businesses such as collections, labeling and online proofing.
Types of Digital Asset Management Software
There are three types of digital asset management tools and all relate to the way they are deployed or hosted. These are Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), on-premise or open source.
- SaaS – This comes as a software package that is accessed through the internet. Being on cloud or web-based, it does not need any hardware or servers to maintain hence it is ideal for those starting out and wanting an affordable DAM system that is ready to use, scalable and accessible anytime. It is important to know if support and upgrades come with the package or if they are separate costs.
- On-premise – This one is delivered and installed on your machine so you need to have the hardware and storage space to make it work. The key advantage is that your IT team has complete control over its operation, maintenance as well as security, especially if you have to safeguard vital assets and proprietary information. This setup is common in many large corporations but total control means bigger responsibility for your IT team to keep the system in top shape which, of course, entails more expenses.
- Open source – The source code of the software is publicly available, and the system can either be on-premise or hosted by a third-party. Open-source software means it is developed through collective inputs and you can take advantage of new features that come out. However, the drawback is less security and greater challenges for your IT team.
Many factors can affect your choice for a DAM system such as support, budget, commitment as well as capabilities of the people who will handle the system. Whatever type of digital asset management software you choose to adopt, you have to make sure that it can meet the needs of your organization.
Key Features of Digital Asset Management Software
Having one primary source and repository where you can distribute and manage the digital assets of your business allows you to streamline workflows, expedite tasks, ensure quality output and enhance brand consistency. Your software helps you realize the aforementioned processes because of functionalities built for its purpose. Key features can be grouped into three: management, collaboration and security.
- Metadata/taxonomy – describes files and content for easy searching, organization and reuse
- Ease of use – responsive interface, intuitive controls, and easy to navigate
- Storage capacity – amount of file and content it can keep
- Number of users – unlimited users or a fixed number
- Advanced search – smart and precise searching through filters and similar tools
- Branding – mechanisms to ensure brand focus
- Reporting/analytics – details and reports on activities relating to digital assets; insights to see content performance, use and engagement
- Integration – ability to work with CRMs and other apps and platforms
- Workflow – multiple, multi-location users can work/collaborate on a file
- Notifications – allows adding of comments when a file is edited or altered
- Social sharing – direct posting of files to social media
- Encryption – data and account information are encrypted to further ensure asset protection
- Digital rights – adding digital watermarks to content to protect business works
- Remote/mobile access – permissions and authorization settings for safe access even on the go
Benefits from Digital Asset Management Software
If you have read this far, you may now have an idea of how important a digital asset management software is and the huge advantages you can gain from its adoption. Nevertheless, we’ll have a quick rundown of the several benefits it can provide:
- Secure, central site for all your digital assets – Whether on cloud or on-premise, you have one location to store your digital resources for easier access, organization and security. No more problems with storing in different sites where you’re likely to misplace or even lose files. Also it’s easier to create backups from one location than create copies of files from various storage sites.
- 24/7 access from any location to your cloud-hosted digital files and content – The convenience of anytime, anywhere, on the go access to you and those with authorization/permission can only be possible with cloud/web technology.
- Time-saving search and delivery of digital resources to users and clients – With files meticulously identified with metadata, tags and other digital identifiers, it is the modern means of cataloguing. Together with built-in filter search, you don’t waste time finding files and promptly delivering them.
- Faster workflows via the repurposing of assets – Instead of creating files from scratch, like illustrations and presentations, you can take a stored file then edit, revise and save it as a new file while preserving the original that you used as a basis or template. Precious time, effort and resources are saved with repurposing.
- Easy organization and control of assets – You can group and organize assets according to titles, types, formats, size, date created, frequency of use, user or user groups, and any other characteristics. You have a wide level of control to keep assets in order and facilitate searching.
- Improve sales, marketing and creative collaboration – One of the hallmarks of a DAM software is allowing for collaboration. Your teams get to work and share on projects using digital assets and files that can be conveniently stored, retrieved and repurposed whenever required. Sales and marketing teams can even share and post files directly to websites for more efficient and up-to-date campaigns.
- Consistent brand deployment and management – All your digital assets, files and resources can be marked and embedded with your corporate logo and symbols so that whenever said assets are retrieved and used, they consistently carry your brand.
- Simplified digital publishing and distribution – From concept to design, layout to content creation, proofreading to editing, to final media product and distribution, all phases in digital publishing can be aided by a DAM software where all needed digital files and resources can be easily accessed.
- Streamlined digital rights management – A DAM software can set access controls and usage restrictions to proprietary or copyrighted materials in your digital media library. To prevent the misuse and abuse of files like photos and images, a digital watermark is usually added. But you don’t have to watermark each and every digital file in your collection since this can be accomplished through the batch action feature of a DAM software. Setting permissions; use expiration; and copy protection, prevention and control can be done by a digital asset management system.
Current and emerging technologies are influencing certain core capabilities and features of digital asset management software. Here are the notable ones worth knowing.
- Quality Metadata – Describing and tagging content has become a critical aspect especially with the continuously expanding volume of digital assets to manage. The traditional cataloguing and archiving methods won’t cut it for the growing digital information and resources that modern businesses have to manage. This is why information professionals are finding ways to standardize and fine-tune metadata practices and capabilities to come up with a more precise and consistent metadata system. Developments in this area are important since metadata is widely considered as the backbone of digital asset management.
- File Extensibility – It is not only the growing numbers of files businesses have to contend with nowadays but also the increasing range of file formats. There are currently hundreds of file formats and file extensions for documents, images, graphics, design, audio, video, database, compression, encryption, financial records, fonts, desktop publishing, scientific data, and many others. DAM systems are often limited to only the most widely-used formats. Initiatives are underway for open-ended file extensible architecture and several vendors have actually already included this capability in their systems.
- Microservices – There is a trend for more niche or content specific services instead of all-in-one platforms. This makes practical sense. If your current digital assets comprise mostly of images and photos, you are not compelled to get an all-format package unless you foresee in the near future that your assets would expand to include other file types. DMS platforms specifically for images, videos, documents or certain types of digital assets have sprouted, paving the way for microservices. An example of these is online stock photo libraries that have basic DAM system features like metadata, storage, sharing and retrieval.
- AI Factor – artificial intelligence integration and interoperability with DAM systems will make asset and file searching even more accurate, error-free and at lightning speeds. Though tech in this area still has to gain traction, the direction is to have a DAM system aided by AI to do more specialized tasks, handle big volume data, and manage sheer number of assets.
Much as we would want it, there is no perfect system. Issues and challenges can crop up in the use and implementation of a DAM system, and it is only proper that you are well aware of these.
- Adoption – Although DAM software has been around for some time, there is still the issue of adoption which pertains to two related areas – usability of the system and user adoption of the system. Although many vendors claim their product to be intuitive, many “once in awhile” users are lost when they use the system. Meanwhile, even regular users don’t seem to understand what the software is for and assume it can automatically tag files (it can’t, this still requires manual effort), be a website media manager (it isn’t but can work with a CMS to help do the job), and can do “page-making” (it does not since it’s not an artwork editor or template/page builder). All these hinder user adoption which can be overcome on the part of the vendor by designing their product’s UI for total usability, and on the part of users to be trained and knowledgeable of what the software is for, and what it can and cannot do.
- Internet Access – Any platform that is web-based or hosted on cloud would require you to be connected to the internet. But even with today’s omnipresent connectivity, there are still some areas lacking cellular signal or internet access, hindering your ability to reach your online app. You just have to make sure beforehand that any new place you’re going to has internet or cellular coverage. With platforms installed in your machine, connectivity is not an issue. What you have to prepare for are sudden power outages and hardware failure, in which case you should have a backup system in place to keep your platform continually operational.
- Asset Security – Even ironclad systems are no match for the most determined hackers. Unless you have a most prized asset that everyone want to get their hands at, all you need to set up are standard security protocols, authentication procedures, and authorization/permission levels that are updated, reviewed and changed regularly. But just so you have peace of mind, you should consult the product vendor or an independent security tech provider to go over your system and digital assets and see if proper safeguards are in place.