Fostered by COVID-19, the modern business world is increasingly driven by digitalization. Most companies across industries, from traditional SMEs to conglomerates, are developing into media businesses, maintaining their social media accounts or optimizing the user experience on their websites. Consequentially, the number of digital files used for these activities, such as digital marketing, exponentially increases. In business, digital files are often referred to as digital assets representing one of the modern value drivers of an organization. But what are digital assets exactly? What makes them valuable? And what is the best strategy for organizations to optimally exploit digital assets as value drivers?
1. The value of digital assets
Not every digital file (digital content or object) is automatically a digital asset. Per definition, a digital file can only be classified as a digital asset if it meets the following three criteria:
- It is owned by an organization/individual
- It is uniquely identifiable, i.e., discoverable, via certain characteristics
- It provides value, or can be used to generate value, for the organization/individual
The most common types of digital assets include pictures, graphics, videos, audios, documents (e.g., PPT, XLSX, DOC, PDF), 3D/design files, and code (e.g., Python, HTML).
Value, despite being the vaguest, is the most crucial of the three defining factors of digital assets, as it contributes to the profit of a corporation. Value is not only constituted by the hard costs of an asset, but also the soft costs such as the invested time, workforce, and resources. Overall, a good indicator of an asset’s value is how much recreation effort would be required in the case of loss. Hence, digital assets are highly valuable when a recreation is basically impossible, for example a picture of a once-in-a-lifetime event.
For organizations to succeed in the digital age, they must master the management of their digital assets in order to optimally exploit their value. Further in line, organizations should optimize their digital assets’ discoverability to allow for the assets to be accessed in the moment they are required. There are two key mechanisms that support the discoverability of digital assets: taxonomy and metadata. On one hand, a holistic taxonomy of all digital assets provides a common language for employees to find and use the files they need. Consistent digital asset categories and relevant subcategories streamlines all available assets into one wholesome and intuitive logic. On the other hand, a solid metadata tagging of all digital assets contributes to their unique identifiability. There are two forms of metadata: technical and descriptive. Technical metadata is usually part of the default file information, including characteristics like size, resolution, and dimensions. Descriptive metadata usually needs to be added manually and provides contextual information including keyword tags, descriptions, purpose of discovery, or photographer name. Besides the discoverability of digital assets, security and performance are important dimensions to consider. To avoid any misusage or loss of data, all users of an organization’s digital assets should have only necessary access, usage, and modification permissions. Furthermore, insights about asset usage, fast and easy sharing, and multi-device usage possibilities can significantly foster the overall business performance.
In sum, discoverability, security, and performance of digital assets should be managed in one central system ensuring a flexible, scalable, and efficient way of working: a so-called Digital Asset Management (DAM) system.
2. Digital Asset Management systems as a value driver
DAM systems provide an ecosystem for creating, managing, retrieving, and distributing digital assets. The key objective is to streamline all digital assets in one central platform, ideally providing an access at any time and place while guaranteeing brand-consistency and fast reusability.
First off, digital assets are created in the DAM system via upload. An intuitive folder structure representing e.g., contextual (sub-)categories, helps organize all assets in an accessible way. Once uploaded, users have the possibility to add metadata tags in order to increase discoverability, edit the assets (e.g., watermarks or logos), and to set up editorial workflows (e.g., define asset lifecycle stages and interaction rules). Various DAM solutions offer auto-suggested metadata tags via an AI driven file recognition. Versioning options make sure that older versions of the same digital asset remain accessible after they have been updated. Once created, users can manage the digital assets by commenting on and approving freshly uploaded files. Permission-management ensures data security by restricting access rights e.g., viewing or editing. Digital assets can then be found, retrieved, or reused by the users with the according access rights. Here, created folder structures and metadata tags contribute to a fast and accurate search. Finally, users can easily distribute the digital assets within the organization, but also to external parties worldwide. Developers can connect the DAM to other systems (e.g., PIM, CMS, social media) via a library of out-of-the-box integrations or APIs, to enable cross-application digital asset usage.
As outlined above, the advantages of a DAM system are manifold. Everyone familiar with central network or SharePoint folders is acquainted with the trouble of searching endlessly for files, especially their most recent versions. Thus, one of the key benefits of a DAM is the great visibility and fast discoverability of all digital assets of an organization. Through unified upload regulations and streamlined file editing features (e.g., logos and watermarks), brand consistency of all digital assets can be improved. The quick reusability of digital assets results in better resource allocation and less manual administration, in turn reducing production costs. The collaboration of all employees via intuitive sharing and commenting functions improves business efficiency and performance. All in all, the usage of a DAM helps organizations increase conversion rates and customer retention by being able to provide content faster and of higher quality.
From a technical perspective, DAM systems can be implemented as a cloud, on-premises, or hybrid solution. Cloud solutions often are more scalable, cost-effective, and flexible in handling.
Prompted by COVID-19, OMMAX is currently experiencing an unparalleled client need for optimizing their digital presence and digitalizing their operating model. The increasing digitalization of business brings an immense and exponentially increasing number of digital assets. Therefore, understanding their value and managing them in a sophisticated and efficient way is crucial for a modern, data-driven organization. Adding a DAM system as a critical component to an organization’s IT landscape can be a highly scalable solution that brings a decisive competitive advantage.
If you require help in selecting or implementing the optimal DAM strategy or technical setup for your organization, OMMAX is more than happy to consult you!
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