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How much digital content do you create each month? And how about your team – or even your organisation as a whole? For most of us, the volume is impossible to track.

And when you need specific files, how quickly and easily can you locate what you’re looking for? It might be the latest version of a shared design file, or all your photography featuring a particular person, or simply a document or presentation saved somewhere unknown by a colleague. This kind of workflow challenge is the norm – and now, with the increase in remotely-based team members, content requires better management than ever before.

To help overcome this, digitally-minded businesses – from start-ups to enterprises and blue-chips – are turning to cloud-based digital asset management software.

What is Digital Asset Management?

Digital assets include images, videos, audio, documents, presentations, design files and other media. Digital Asset Management (often referred to as DAM) solves one of the biggest challenges most organisations have today – an overabundance of this digital content.

DAM is purpose-built to deliver a user experience that makes it easier to organise, find and share assets. Content is stored centrally for internal colleagues, wherever in the world they’re based, and it also streamlines fast, secure access for external parties such as clients and partners.

Digital file storage is available in many shapes and forms though. So why consider a dedicated DAM solution? A shared server or Dropbox-type service can provide everyone access, can’t it?

Here are my top three reasons:

  1. Tagged files (assets) are easier to find. Finding files and filtering results is transformed with tags, keywords, metadata and custom fields. This saves time-consuming searches and colleagues distracting each other to track down what they’re looking for. You can also search by file size and other factors such as by which designer, photographer or document creator. Embedded facial recognition means you can find every picture of somebody in an instant, no matter whereabouts all the files were originally saved.
  • Integrations with other software you use daily. This is a great productivity hack and where DAM excels. Google Chrome and Microsoft Office plugins mean you can search your media library without leaving your browser-based email, document or presentation. Integration with Adobe Photoshop and InDesign allows faster editing of visual content. Rather than saving to a desktop or internal server and waiting for that to be shared, everyone can immediately access the latest version, as file saves sync with the centralised DAM system.
  • It gets everyone working in a consistent way. This type of platform requires everybody within your organisation, as well as outside suppliers or contractors, to work in the same way. It means the security, organisation and searchability of your digital assets is consistent and access to third-party can be granted to only the files and folders they need. While Dropbox and Google Drive are fine for basic storage they can be very quickly outgrown.

Is it cost-effective?

DAM’s popularity has exploded since it evolved from being an on-premise software solution to web browser-based SaaS (Software-as-a-Service). No longer do IT teams need to install and manage the software on everyone’s machines. Being cloud-based, anyone can download the software and be granted appropriate access to save, search and share files. Being a web browser-based tool makes it far more accessible, particularly for enterprises with dispersed teams and it relieves pressure on your own network.

A common benefit of SaaS is that it’s subscription-based and pricing is dependent on several factors, including how many users will benefit from the tool. This makes it a viable solution for companies of any size. Another advantage of SaaS is that as new features and functionality are regularly added, users have immediate access these.

How easy is it to introduce into my team?

You can be up and running with a DAM solution in hours. Easy importing allows you to effortlessly upload content from your shared server and other locations into your DAM library. My favourite example during setup is facial recognition – you can tag one photograph with the individual’s name, and then be amazed as the technology does the work and instantly finds all photography featuring that person.

A common concern is the time it can take to train staff to use new software. The best DAM providers offer an intuitive user interface meaning most people can use it right away with little or no training.

The underlying hosting is taken care of by providers like Amazon Web Services. This not only ensures security and excellent reliability, but means storage capacity can grow with your business requirements. Once DAM is introduced into an organisation it’s often adopted by wider teams and departments once the benefits are clear for all to see.

Next time you’re searching through content or sharing a file, ask yourself: “could this be easier?”

By Mike Paxton, Head of EMEA Business Development at Canto