What to Expect From DAM Systems of Today
Finding the perfect digital asset management (DAM) system can feel like a big undertaking. With so many vendors touting different features and capabilities, it’s tough to know what you really need. While the right DAM provider is different for every organization, there are fundamental and advanced capabilities that every modern DAM system should offer. Here’s what you need to know!
A true DAM system
While many vendors claim to have a “DAM system,” that is not always the case. To qualify, vendors must apply for evaluation by the DAM Foundation, a not-for-profit think tank started by 20-year DAM veteran Mark Davey. To receive accreditation, a DAM system must meet all 10 core characteristics established by this globally-recognized foundation. Qualifying DAM systems must:
- Ingest assets individually or in mass sets, and allow for the manipulation of those assets and their metadata individually or with mass actions.
Secure the assets they contain, which extends to defining access control lists for assets and defining roles for users.
Store assets as both binaries and metadata. A DAM system can store multiple file types and allows for the customization of metadata fields and the metadata in those fields attached to the stored files.
Transform assets on ingest into new forms, such as thumbnails or proxy files, and store them as asset parts of the original file that was uploaded.
Enrich assets through the extension of metadata and metrics regarding the use and reuse of the asset throughout their lifecycle.
Relate assets by tracking the relationships between and among original assets and versions/variants of the original. Versioning and version control tools are central to an asset’s life in a DAM system.
Regulate a structured process in the management, creation, and review of assets with workflow tools. Via programmed workflows, DAM systems allow for a decentralized workforce to collaborate in a centralized system.
- Allow users to find and retrieve assets by facilitating search through metadata, collections, workflows, and access control tools. By increasing the discovery of assets that may not have been easily accessible before ingest, a DAM system assists workers in leveraging existing content for maximum work potential.
- Have a preview function that allows users to view assets before downloading or opening files on their device, reducing search time.
Publish content by providing methods whereby assets may be shared, linked to, or otherwise distributed outside the system. This functionality may be as simple as generating a URL on ingest or as complex as allowing users to build collections of items for sharing with a group.
Today’s DAM system is more
At a minimum, a DAM system must meet the requirements laid out by the DAM Foundation. But, in reality, a modern DAM system should offer capabilities beyond this. Even if you don’t need all the bells and whistles at this point in your DAM journey, it’s important to think about the trajectory of your company and how your DAM needs could evolve. So, before switching DAM providers or deciding on one for the first time, make sure you have an understanding of your organization’s current and future needs. This will help you prioritize which features you need and don’t need. Also, keep in mind that many additional capabilities come at no extra cost, giving you peace of mind that your DAM system can grow with you. Here are a few advanced functionalities to be on the lookout for:
Although a platform can technically qualify as a DAM system without analytics, this functionality is an absolute must-have for DAM software. Without it, you will not be able to measure the ROI of your DAM system and your digital assets; you’ll be flying blind. Analytics give you the hard data you need to make strategic decisions, like which content to repurpose, retire, or emulate. Without analytics, you and your organization are likely relying on anecdotal feedback and missing revenue opportunities.
Portals are DAM microsites that allow you to curate and share assets with partners and collaborators that do not have direct access to your DAM system. So, rather than training partners and colleagues on how to use your DAM system or sending large videos over email, you can use portals to share carefully curated content with people that don’t really need day-to-day access to your DAM system. Portals are versatile, supporting everything from product launches to sales material distribution, regional or language customization, events, training, media toolkits, and more.
3. Creative tools
Are your designers overloaded with work? Do your regional teams need sell sheets, flyers, and business collateral personalized or customized for their unique audiences? Many DAM systems today offer creative tools that empower non-designers like salespeople, dealers, and marketers to create and customize materials without reliance on a design team. By providing preset templates, organizations can maintain brand control over elements like fonts, colors, logos, and brand assets while allowing users to customize text and visuals for their regional or unique needs.
While DAM capabilities have come a long way, no one can expect DAM systems to do everything. Some tasks are better handled by partners and third-party tools that have fine-tuned their offering over the years. That’s why many DAM providers allow you to connect, or integrate, your DAM system with the other tools you love. Capabilities vary by vendor, but integrations, in general, extend to most popular software categories, such as marketing automation, file sharing and storage, customer relationship management, and more. Think about the tools you use every day and how connecting them to your DAM system, or central source of truth, can help get more control over brand consistency, data, and team productivity. After all, wouldn’t it be nice not to upload and download digital assets between systems? We think so!
5. Artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI), once an invention of the future, is quickly sending waves through the world of DAM. While some DAM providers and users are hesitant to embrace computer intelligence, others are eager to turn over tedious, manual DAM tasks, like image tagging, to the machines. To get the best technology available, DAM providers integrate their systems with leading image-recognition services like Amazon Rekognition, Clarifai, CloudSight, Imagga, and more. When evaluating the integrations that are right for you, keep in mind the current and future efficiencies and returns AI can drive for your business. It’s not going anywhere!
The right DAM system will be different for everyone. But, as you learned, a true DAM system must, at a minimum, meet the 10 core characteristics laid out by the DAM Foundation. We also believe that analytics are a must for all organizations. Beyond this, you should weigh more advanced DAM capabilities against your organization’s unique needs. To get to know your organization’s DAM requirements, create a document, like our DAM requirements template, to guide your conversations. From here, use research tools like The Codified DAM Consultant™ to help you identify the DAM software that aligns with your needs. Lastly, if you have any questions about DAM or your DAM research, don’t hesitate to contact our team of DAM experts. We’re here to help!