How to choose the best Digital Asset Management solution for your business
Whether you already have a Digital Asset Management (DAM) solution in place and want to replace it, or you’re a total newbie when it comes to DAM, finding the right software for your business can be daunting! In this article, we will show you what is really important when selecting a DAM solution, which questions you should ask yourself and, above all, how you can find answers to them in order to select a digital asset management software which works best for you and your business’ and employees’ needs.
If you are reading this article, you are most likely not satisfied with your business’ current media management. Luckily, there are great solutions out there for you to improve that status quo. One of them is Digital Asset Management (DAM). But before we begin: What is Digital Asset Management? And what can it do for you? To keep it short and simple: Digital Asset Management is a highly efficient and cost-effective way to store, search, index, share and diffuse a multitude of different media assets. It allows you to provide access to all your relevant media files to (selected) employees but also to external partners such as press, creative (content) producers and other stakeholders….
Obviously, there are many other solutions available on the market, so in case you might wonder how Digital Asset Management compares to other common asset storing and management solutions, we have you covered:
Why should you choose DAM over other tools?
Let’s look together at some solutions (you might be currently using) in comparison with Digital Asset Management.
Depending on the company size, it is natural to at first stick to solutions that are already available and easy to use, like USB or hard drives. These drives, however, unfortunately have limits that are reached quickly, since they are not scalable and media can not be shared easily. The latter point may not apply to file-sharing services, but these present other drawbacks. File-sharing services like Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive are convenient thanks to easy asset accessibility, but won’t do much for you and your business when you want to have full control over access permission and tracking of workflows. Searching and finding assets can be challenging as well: Since these services are not relying on metadata – we will cover this point again later – locating your different assets is complicated (especially when it comes to videos and images).
For the sake of completeness, we will also mention the possible use of email and employee desktops, which have some advantages but mainly disadvantages once your asset management becomes a bit more complex.
Storing assets directly on your employees desktops might be safe, but sharing your assets is way too time-consuming and inefficient. Computers can also break down or be inaccessible for various reasons. Another downside of this option is that it is no longer suitable for today’s digital way of working, including remote work. Email on the other hand does not support the sending of large amounts of files, and communication can be disordered and not very secure.
In short, all of these tools might seem convenient at the beginning, but face significant shortcomings when it comes to safety, workflows, advanced search functions and many more.
Now, what about Marketing Resource Management? Well, we dedicated a whole article and infographic to the differences between marketing resource management and digital asset management, their features, benefits and how you can find out which one is the right match for you. When this seems interesting to you, you can find this blog article here.
One finding is that these two systems are not really competing, but rather complementary and respond to different needs. Marketing resource management is a tool that allows you to organize and automate processes around the creation and planning of marketing resources (digital, physical, human and financial). Whereas Digital Asset Management acts as a central repository (a so-called “Single Source of Truth”) for asset management, storage and validation. These assets can then be easily shared and diffused on all kinds of online and offline channels. Furthermore, Digital Asset Management provides analytics and scoring features which give you the possibility to gain important insights concerning the use and performance of your assets – a real game changer when it comes to marketing decision-making!
This all sounds good to you? Well, you can then assume that Digital Asset Management is an excellent choice for you. Still, it is up to you to choose a DAM vendor whose solution supports your company in the best way possible.
We’ll tell you where to start when looking for the right software for your company and which criteria, features and benefits you need to take into account when comparing different Digital Asset Management vendors. So, let’s start with the basics:
Identify your business needs but also the constraints
In order to identify your business needs but also constraints, you need to ask yourself some essential questions like:
- What types of files should be handled by the solution?
- What does my current MarTech stack look like? Can the DAM be integrated with it?
- Who will be using the DAM?
- How familiar are the future users with a software like a digital asset management solution?
- What is my budget?
Once you get these basics straight, you can dive into the details and take a look at the key features you ideally want your future digital asset management solution to cover.
Set up a list of key features
The next step would be to set up a list of key features by checking the following points:
Different digital asset management solutions cover different files. The key takeaway here is that NOT all digital asset management solutions support all kinds of files. So, what are the files you and your employees need to work with on a daily basis? Text-based files like presentations, contracts, brand guidelines or rich media files like images, videos, 360 and 3D, audio content, animations and graphics? Or maybe all of the above? Be sure to check which files and formats are supported by your favorite vendors to guarantee that they support all your relevant media.
When it comes to Digital Asset Management solutions, some vendors opt for an easy “one solution fits all” approach, while others allow more flexibility and can tailor the DAM solution perfectly to your company. Examples for a highly customizable solution would be one that features a ser interface that reflects your company’s brand. The advantage here is that it blends in perfectly with your other tools and gives the user the feel of one single solution. You might also want to customize your metadata and search functions so that they cover for example, all of your different product categories, brands, or business units. Finding and indexing your assets will then become way more intuitive. The number and nature of your future Digital Asset Management user is also an important factor to take into account. Will the solution only be used by a small number of people from the same team? In this case, a simple and limited user management will be totally fine for you. Or are we talking about thousands of different users, both internal and external, worldwide? Then you will probably prefer a precise and complex user management without limits where you can set up different accesses and permissions for different users.
What about scalability? In DAM, this means that a company should be able to add assets, users, storage, work-in-progress capabilities, integrations, etc. (input) to the DAM and still have a system that provides the same, or better, functionality and performance (output). The basic idea here is to understand how the solution is able to grow with your evolving needs. To start, you would need to look at where your company is now and what your business goals are for the future. For start-ups and small companies, basic functionalities may be a good (and less expensive) way to start. That being said, basic DAM functionalities are often limited. As your company grows, so will its business needs. That’s why scalable, modular DAM solutions are certainly more suitable. Only you can know the complete list of requirements when it comes to scalability, but we’llgive some inspirations to think about in order to define your needs and what to ask for in a digital asset management solution: What is the current number of users (including user concurrency, roles and groups)? What storage will you need now and in the future? What about upstream capabilities such as workflows or downstream capabilities such as diffusion / omnichannel support and personalization? Do you have video needs? What is your desired architecture for easier integrations? And so on…
Integration possibilities with other applications / tools (including APIs)
This brings us to our next point. Depending on your current Martech Stack, you’ll want your DAM solution to easily integrate with your business and technical environments. Depending on your company, there can be a small or high number of requirements for integrations. Integration can be divided in different categories: Automation, brand management, e-commerce, product information management (pim), project management, social media management and web content (cms) to name just a few. Which kinds of integration a DAM vendor provides can be highly individual. We also distinguish between integrations that are directly developed and supported by the vendor, and those that are developed and supported by its partners. Needless to say that you want to make sure that your DAM connects with all your applications. Speaking of connection: You might also want to add the connection with APIs to your DAM wishlist.
Deployment method (on premise vs cloud-based)
The functionality of DAM software is not everything: the chosen solution must also be technically practical and adapted to your constraints. There are two types of Digital Asset Management solutions : on-premise, where the software is hosted on your organization’s own server ; and cloud (SaaS), where the hosting is external to your organization and accessible via a web browser. Both options offer advantages:
On-site software allows you to retain full control of the tool: choice of updates, security of resources, management of backups and restorations, etc. Moreover, its use is independent of the Internet connection, which can be advantageous if you do not have a high speed connection or if you wish to isolate your platform as much as possible from the outside network.
SaaS software is simpler and faster to implement, as there is no infrastructure to provide. It is scalable and offers the possibility of adding modules, benefiting from regular free updates, or increasing storage space as needed. It can be accessed from anywhere, and potentially by anyone, as long as the user has an internet connection… and an authorisation! Finally, the subscription generally gives access to a support and maintenance offer.
Security features (copyrights, user management, SSO)
In this article, you already learned that a Digital Asset Management solution acts as a “Single Source of Truth” (SSOT): A centralized media database of validated assets is a huge plus in order to have full control over security questions. When using a DAM solution, you’ll almost always benefit from having a SSOT, but here again, different vendors support different functionalities. To have the whole picture ask yourself if you want to prevent for example right expiration when you choose to automatically archive an asset. Or would you need to control the geographical use of your assets? Network use? Can you document usage rights and restrictions to avoid copyright infringement in order to maintain brand integrity? Previously, we also mentioned user management.
And last but not least: Is there a learning curve?
A learning curve in the context of Digital Asset Management means that you should also think about how well the new solution can be used by your employees (and partners). Or in other words: How can you ensure a successful adaptation of your new DAM solution and make the DAM a habit? This is the reason why it is crucial to pay attention to the internal functioning of the DAM, which is the intrinsic quality that the users encounter. We need to be careful about content indexing and media organization, but also about the ease of use of the UX that employees are going to experience. Keep this in mind when you are going to choose the right DAM solution for your company.
Check Digital Asset Management reviews & use cases
At this point and after numerous reflections, you should be clear about the list of key functionalities you would like to have in your Digital Asset Management. Now you can use this list with the features different vendors offer and create a short list of your favorite ones. It is also useful to look out for client reviews and use cases. Wedia’s customer success stories illustrate for instance how a DAM solution was successfully implemented and (depending on the vendor) tailored to the specific company and their marketing challenges. Especially when it comes to your competitors in this case, these materials are very valuable and insightful and help you to narrow down which DAM solution is the best for you.
Ready to go on the hunt for a Digital Asset Management solution? If you are interested in the Wedia solution and want to get to know our features, do not hesitate to book a demo with one of your experts or to fill out an RFP template for conducting a DAM tender.
In these complex times, having tools that cater to new ways of working is essential, and the Wedia solution has proven itself capable of coping with the new ways in which we work.
We offer a Digital Asset Management SaaS solution that is backed up by the services of our experts (advice, integration, support, etc.) and dedicated to the management and omnichannel distribution of marketing media, to enable companies to offer the best possible customer experience across all communication and sales channels.