What is DAM?

Digital Asset Management may be defined as the management, organization, and distribution of digital assets from a central repository. Digital assets typically include photos, images, video and audio files, PDF’s, PowerPoint presentations, artwork, logos, animations, business documents, designs etc. What makes the files into ‘assets – i.e. valuable – is the ability of the system to allow the user to reuse and re-purpose these files.

For example, convert the format of a corporate video so that it may be used on a website or extract slides for a training presentation. Or convert a high resolution photo to low resolution for use in a PowerPoint presentation. Most organizations have spent huge amounts of money over many years with photographers producing or buying mountains of pictures of products, people, locations etc which rarely get reused. A DAM system can help them dramatically capitalize on that investment by reusing such material.

How does the system allow the user to be able to reuse these files? Embedded in every file – be it a picture, video, PDF etc. – there is a string of related information such as the caption, creation date and copyright details. This called the metadata. We in TDAL call it ‘systems independent’ metadata because, with our DAM systems, it travels with the file and being an international standard, it can be instantly read by other systems. (See DAM SMART). It is the metadata which allows the files – the digital assets – to be catalogued, searched for and retrieved in a DAM system, thereby providing the key to unlock a wealth of applications, opportunities and business benefits.

For many organizations, a veritable treasure trove of files such as photographs and videos do not exist in digital format having typically sat for years in cabinets, drawers or in agencies. We can convert and upload your files for you saving you effort and specialized staff costs. Typically we can upload up to 1,000 images per hour, enabling you to quickly start reusing your new digital assets throughout your organization.

The current demand for DAM systems

The market penetration of DAM systems remains low but demand in the last year has increased enormously from all sizes of organizations across many sectors. The recession has played an enormous role in providing the ‘tipping point’. Previously, many based their justification on 3 areas – The need to improve operational efficiency, brand consistency and the return on marketing investments. These have always proved to be difficult to justify to a financial director in terms of ‘hard’ savings.

Now the recession has changed the game. Financial directors are all actively seeking to dramatically reduce their costs, with many companies shedding marketing and IT staff to achieve this whilst at the same time putting marketing under pressure to exploit the new media opportunities and adapt to the challenges of the new global market place.

According to the Aberdeen Group ‘Today the number one reason all companies are turning to DAM is operational productivity. Companies are desperately trying to supplement a lack of top line revenue, with increased productivity to maximize profitability’. DAM provides a valuable response to these business pressures.

Organizations are now also looking to move their systems forward from operational to strategic to capitalize on the digital media and social networking explosion from the critical PR perspective, enabling them to interact 24/7 with the multiple outside world audiences their very survival now depends upon. And with more employees travelling, permanently on call or working from home, it’s never been so crucial for all key material to be constantly and easily accessible from anywhere in the world.

All these dynamics are driving demand for more connected, more integrated DAM solutions, with industry analysts as well as customers calling for a new generation of DAM solutions which can be installed quickly and inexpensively with minimum operational risk. It’s this very objective which underpins the strategy of The Digital Asset Lab.