As a small business owner, you may feel like you are treading water when you compare your company against the larger, older businesses in your field. However, you can stay competitive and thrive using innovative digital asset management technologies.
What are digital assets? What is digital asset management? What are the benefits of digital asset management? The answers to these questions can help you understand why small businesses need to consider digital asset management.
What Are Digital Assets?
Before you think about digital asset management, you must first understand what a digital asset is. Digital assets are any media or information that you can store digitally and is easily identifiable. Websites are just one small segment of the digital asset world. Other examples include audio, video, spreadsheets, logos, or other documents.
Any media you use in running your business and store on a desktop, laptop, or another electronic device is considered a digital asset. Those photographs you took to use for your spring ad campaign? That’s a digital asset. So is the spreadsheet you created to track your spending for the month.
Digital assets can be used for a variety of business purposes. They are significant assets for marketing and advertisement campaigns. Depending on the kind of business you own, your entire team could use digital assets in their day-to-day work efforts.
What Is Digital Asset Management?
Digital asset management (DAM) is sharing digital media among multiple people. DAM includes both the files you see and the metadata that describes the files. Digital asset management provides storage for media that is uploaded by the team members with whom you work and enables the sharing of files between parties in the company.
When your photographer uploads a picture to the database, and the marketing team retrieves it to use for the latest company brochure. That is digital asset management at work. Uploading a video for the next ad campaign is also digital asset management at work.
There are two primary digital asset management platforms available. There is cloud-based or software as a service (SaaS) asset management and on-site asset management. Let’s look at the differences between them.
Cloud-Based (SaaS) Digital Asset Management
Cloud-based, or SaaS digital asset management, is exactly what you might think. Your digital media is stored on the cloud through a secure off-site server. Your media files are uploaded and retrieved from the cloud storage. Typically, with this kind of DAM, you only pay for the storage you are actually using at any given time.
SaaS digital asset management is a scalable way of storing your digital media. Cloud-based digital asset management can grow with you as your business grows and changes. We’re already familiar with cloud-based interfaces. Most social media and several email services use this digital storage method.
Cloud-based digital asset management systems tend to save your business money, at least at the outset. There is no need to purchase expensive hardware for a cloud-based system. You also save on payroll because there is no need to increase your IT department to manage the servers.
On-Site Digital Asset Management
On-site digital asset management involves installing servers at your place of business. The servers hold the storage functionality for your system. With an on-site digital access management system, there is a higher upfront cost due to the installment of server technologies.
The downside to on-site digital asset management, aside from cost, is the scalability factor. You can feasibly outgrow the capabilities of the server you had installed, and then you would have to invest in additional servers. On-site DAM systems also require a more extensive IT department to maintain the servers.
On-site digital asset management does have the benefit of giving you autonomous control of your servers. You can oversee the management and maintenance of the equipment. Of course, that also means you have responsibility if anything goes wrong and your servers fail.
Why Do Small Businesses Need Digital Asset Management?
Small businesses face a challenge in attempting to compete with large corporations. Many small businesses have created an online presence and established their niche to compensate and try to prove their worth in the competitive world of business. However, if the business administration doesn’t understand the nuances of navigating in the digital age, they could lose data.
Digital asset management platforms are a small business owner’s saving grace. Digital asset management allows several people to share and collaborate on projects within one centralized system. With remote work an increasingly regular portion of the workflow, small businesses need to find solutions that allow them to organize and access data easily.
Digital asset management tools allow you to communicate within the company and with clients or suppliers. Everyone within the company can use the centrally situated DAM rather than having digital assets spread across various departments. The organized files in a DAM system streamline the storage of media and information. Think of the digital asset management system like a virtual library or filing cabinet where everyone can share files and ideas.
What Are the Benefits of Digital Asset Management?
Many small business owners think storing data on their computers is sufficient to keep their digital assets. However, using a digital asset management program can bring your small business to the next level. Let’s talk about the benefits of digital asset management.
The digital asset management system provides organized storage for your media and data files rather than having files spread throughout the company on individual workstations. The organized system is accessible to anyone who has been granted permission to use the data. The digital asset management system allows you to :
- Allow outside vendors access to only those files they need.
- See which assets your team uses most often.
- Convert files and resize them automatically for ease of use by anyone in the business.
- Create tags and descriptions for easy search capabilities.
- Share files among team members.
DAM systems allow you to organize the files you already have as well as add new files to the database. The organization across the board helps to facilitate easy collaboration among team members.
Easy to Use
SaaS interfaces are typically user-friendly platforms that require little to no training to use. Many of the available options allow for customization that helps keep your brand consistent across platforms. Sharing ideas among team members is easier provided each person has the necessary permissions to use the data. Consistency of the brand keeps all workers on the same page with marketing efforts.
Adding new team members to your workflow will be relatively simple. There is little to no training required for your SaaS digital asset management system. Your HR person or the system administrator will assist your new team member with creating a login. They will also grant the appropriate permissions. After that, they should be ready to access the system and incorporate their work into your database.
One of the most significant selling points of a digital asset management system is the ability to integrate with programs you already use. This integration gives you the flexibility to store and access files across various tools you might use. The DAM tools merge seamlessly into your workflow rather than your workflow adapting to fit the digital asset management.
The vendor you choose should be able to tell you if your specific programs are automatically integrated into your DAM. Some digital asset management systems allow the customization of integrated programs. Since that’s the case if yours isn’t automatically integrated, consult with your vendor about customizing your integrated programs. One thing to ask is whether they integrate them for you or if you’ll have to do that yourself.
As everyone begins to use digital asset management tools, you will likely find that time is saved by using the file organization tools. Anyone with access can easily find the files they need to complete their tasks. Consistency across the company provides intrinsic time-saving without specialized training.
Allowing digital access to everyone eliminates the time-consuming process of searching for files followed by emailing or walking a file to another team member. Each person can simply access the appropriate file via the database of information. Saving time helps to increase productivity.
Your data is protected from unauthorized access with customized permissions and access to your files. The DAM uses encryption protocols, regular backups, and secure authentication practices to safeguard your data. Records are created regarding who has accessed which files and when, so you can feel confident that your team is protected from data breaches.
The digital asset management system protects you from external data breaches and internal ones. You, or your admin, decide who has permission to access which files. Unauthorized access from external or internal sources can be traced to the source via the records created by the system. These reports help you save money by allowing you to put a stop to any breaches quickly.
Increased productivity and time-saving features result in money-saving. The centralized storage of assets helps to prevent needless duplication of files. The digital filing system can also help provide protection against copyright infringement and subsequent penalties.
As they save time, associates can translate the savings into money-earning activities. Creative deliverables can easily be edited and shared, saving time and money. Saved time equals increased productivity for a positive circle of growth.
Workflow Streamlined Across the Business
A collaborative atmosphere requires that people have access to pertinent information via file-sharing. The data is distributed digitally via the centralized database with a digital asset management system rather than using email protocols. The DAM provides context for file usage to those who must access the information. Streamlined data distribution creates an efficient work environment.
Your marketing team will no longer have to physically meet with the legal department to verify copyrights or usage issues. Your creatives can edit and resend within the system. All the pertinent people have access to the files for collaboration. Less time spent tracking the appropriate person to speak with allows for a more efficient, productive workflow.
Reduced Turnaround Times
Using a digital asset management tool allows for efficient work processes. Increased productivity is especially essential for small businesses. Limited resources and personnel require small companies to work as efficiently as possible, making wise use of time and energy.
The ability to access, convert, and customize media files independently rather than request an adapted file will help increase efficient productivity. Finding the files is easier with the standardization of a digital asset management system. Everyone uses the same filing methods to make collaboration a more straightforward process.
Digital Asset Management Strategies for Small Business
A digital asset management system is a critical tool for small businesses to have in their arsenal. A DAM gives you more control over your digital assets and how they are used. However, simply adding a digital asset management system without a plan will not allow you to realize the full effectiveness of the tool.
With that in mind, let’s look at some critical steps to follow to implement your digital asset management system.
Define Your Goals
What do you need your digital asset management system to do for you? A clear vision of your goals will help you choose the appropriate system for your business. Knowing how you plan to acquire and use your assets will also inform your decision, especially regarding licensing capabilities and version control. A little research on the front-end will save you unnecessary expenses and headaches later.
If you need a system that improves communication between your workers, learn which systems facilitate that goal and compare them to find the right one for you. If the goal is to scale, you’ll want to look at the DAMs that have the best scalability ratings. Whichever system you choose, having a firm grasp on your goals will help you analyze your choice regarding your business plans and methods.
Analyze your company and how you currently work. How many users do you currently have? What is your projected growth for the next six months? The next year? Five years? Granted, within five years your system may be obsolete with the changing nature of technology.
What is your current system for handling assets, and what things about that system work? Asking yourself these questions will help you identify the things you need from your digital asset management system. Defining the criteria you use for workflow will give you a better overall picture of your productivity as well.
Audit Your Assets
What is your creative process as a company, and which departments create and use digital assets most effectively? You need to know what assets you already have. An internal audit of your assets will let you know how your company is already using them.
Knowing the kind and use of your current assets gives you a picture of your needs for managing those assets. This knowledge helps you improve your content, leading to an improved return on investment (ROI).
Understand the Life Cycle of Digital Assets
Digital assets do not have a linear lifespan. They are cyclical, with multiple steps in the cycle. The cycle starts with acquiring (or creating) the asset and continues through a process that includes editing, updating metadata, the exportation of files, distribution, and storage. Properly stored files can continue through the cycle as necessary for various deliverables.
The cycle doesn’t end with the distribution. Maintaining a proper digital asset management system can help simplify the creative process by keeping the asset properly cataloged for use. If the asset is brand-specific and relevant, it can be worked back into the creative process multiple times.
Understand the Software Requirements of DAM
Your business is unique, and your digital asset management system should be a perfect fit for your needs. Keep in mind that digital asset management systems vary, and what works for the big corporation down the street may not be appropriate for your company. Compare your needs with the requirements of the digital asset management solution you prefer.
Integration: Is It Compatible With Your Software?
It is common for companies to use several tools and applications to achieve their workflow goals in the digital world. When everyone within the company uses the same software, it’s more efficient to tailor your digital asset management software to your current software than to reinvent the wheel from the ground up. Choose a DAM that will integrate with what you currently use or one that can be customized to do so.
Implement the Tools
Set priorities and then start fulfilling them to begin implementing the digital asset management system. Create a team that plans how the DAM will be used most effectively within your business. Let them be the guinea pigs who implement the system into their workflow. This strategy helps improve the execution of the system overall.
Set and Enforce Best Practices and Guidelines
When you initially implement the digital asset management system, your team needs to know your expectations. How will each department use the system? How does each feature of the DAM work? Consider a company-wide training session to set guidelines and best practices and allow the team to feel a shared responsibility for the company’s success.
Once your current team is trained on using the system, onboarding new personnel will be more straightforward. Because everyone knows how to use the system and what each department is responsible for, the departmental personnel can handle the minimal training needed for new users.
Enact User Permissions
Determine which users need access to which files, then set permissions within the system. Typically, the most secure permission structure is to give the least amount of privilege required to complete daily work effectively. Users only need the rights needed to fulfill daily task requirements.
Administrators are the only people who need access to the entire system. Generally, that is your primary management team, depending on your company structure. For a smaller company, it might be the business owner who also serves in a daily management capacity.
Consider structuring your workflow so that each person or department is responsible for one portion of the process. Efficiency may be lost if everyone has access to every step of the process. If everyone can modify or rename a file, it can create confusion and negate the benefits of the digital asset management software.
Knowing which portion of the workflow is their responsibility can increase individual productivity because they aren’t wasting time on other tasks. Overall productivity can also increase because the workflow is smooth with the team working like a well-oiled machine.
Digital asset management systems are not designed as one-size-fits-all solutions. A small business likely won’t need the same functionality that a large corporation needs. However, digital asset management is an invaluable tool for businesses of all sizes.
If you work with media files, like spreadsheets, audio, video, or images, you need a digital asset management system to maintain your files. These tools allow you to streamline your workflow by making collaboration more efficient with accessibility to brand-specific files shared by multiple people. Files are stored on a centralized digital platform, so anyone with granted permission can access them and incorporate them into their daily tasks.
The organization of the DAM is an invaluable asset if you work with people in multiple locations. Files are organized based on criteria set by the business, which makes them easily located when needed. Even those who work from home can access files to use with their projects. Digital asset management tools also help you deal with vendors and customers.
Digital asset management solutions help small business owners realize increased efficiency and productivity. Saved time is saved money and increased productivity. When you choose a digital asset management system based on your company’s goals, an honest audit of your assets, and the makeup of your team and current software, you will likely find the best tool for your business.
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