Examining the Lifecycle of Digital Assets

A few years back, one of the members of a digital asset management LinkedIn group asked the following question: “Is there a clear distinction between digital asset management (DAM) and digital archivism?” And although this is not a new question, it’s still a relevant one — especially to businesses that are getting up to speed with DAM.

In a nutshell, there is no clear distinction between digital asset management and digital archivism, because digital archival is part of the DAM process. In fact, it’s the final part of a four-step process: creation, management, distribution and archival.

The DAM creation phase is the part of the process that helps us swiftly realize the full value of each of our digital assets. This happens because the time between digital asset creation and presenting to the market is greatly reduced, which of course means we can go to market faster with the asset while achieving tighter integration with management and distribution functions.

Lifecycle of digital assets

Each digital asset management phase may consist of many roles or team members in order to function efficiently. In many cases, a DAM admin is involved mostly in the management and distribution phases. That being said, there is a large amount of cross-over, and in each organization roles may vary. Even different vendors specialize in some areas more than others. For instance, Widen performs the functions on the creation end of the digital asset lifecycle, while also providing the software technology, infrastructure and service (personnel) to merge all four levels.

A digital asset is truly an asset when it is leveraged to maximize its intrinsic value to the organization it is serving, commonly for the purpose of driving brand value and revenue. Typically, the role of the digital archivist is to identify exactly what to do with each asset. In other words, it comes down to “who, what, when, where and how” to best apply the asset to give it the most value — while at the same time control when it is time to relinquish that value by archiving it.

For those of you working in one or more of these four DAM categories, we’d love to hear what you think. With the economy still on the mends, and creative departments restructuring how their resources are used, have the parameters and demands of your role changed over the past few years?

If you’re interested in reading more about digital archivists, check out this New York Times Article.

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