In this post you’ll learn how a digital asset management system can help you achieve huge savings in your day-to-day business. We’ll also explain in simple terms what sort of activities this software is used for, which industries typically use DAM solutions and what you should bear in mind before buying a DAM solution.
Digital asset management, also known as media asset management (MAM), refers to centralized management of media files within a company.
This management takes the form of media file databases or image databases. The distinctive feature of digital asset management solutions is their use of a central, unified system of data storage, which is accomplished with the help of metadata.
In the meta-tagging process, a file such as a picture is saved along with individual pieces of information (keywords) that allow it to be categorized internally within a set of images and then effortlessly found again later on.
Time savings for photo editors
In the analog world, this data was managed using thousands of folders and this approach was initially adapted to the digital realm as well. It quickly became clear, however, that using folder structures hampered productivity. Photo editors or journalists who had to look for specific pictures every day complained about the tedious process of finding what they needed.
Lightning-fast image searches in DAM
A more practical solution had to be found – and this was the origin of digital asset management solutions. The basic idea was to close the chapter on folder-based file management and turn instead to a solution using a database that can be searched using keywords. The first DAM systems, which give users an intuitive way to store files, were born.
A big advantage of a digital asset management system is that these solutions can be used in any industry, regardless of the number of employees or the size of the company.
Another advantage is the nearly limitless adaptability of a DAM solution. Within a very short time, any company can implement its own media database that can be customized at any time by internal employees.
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Before rushing into a decision and choosing a specific solution, you should first consider a few important parameters. If you’re looking for the perfect solution for your company, you should first make sure you understand what the DAM will be used for.
This information should be recorded in writing as a set of specifications. Later, during the selection process, the specifications will serve as a list of criteria when you’re comparing different DAM solutions. If you skip this step and choose a DAM based purely on emotional factors, the new system might turn out to be a bad purchase.
It’s not uncommon for customers to come to us after a few weeks or months, asking to replace their digital asset management system with a different one. In many cases this is because they didn’t use a list of criteria as a basis for their decision or didn’t have a complete concept of the product they needed.
To avoid unpleasant surprises, you should review the guidelines of your IT department at the outset and exclude DAM providers that aren’t compatible with those guidelines from consideration. Ideally, you should include a member of your IT department in your DAM project team.
Hosting variants: SaaS or on-premise?
There are generally two ways you can run a digital asset management solution: in the form of software-as-a-service, or SaaS, or as an on-premise solution. In this case the software is run in the computer center of the digital asset management provider. This is the most common form of hosting.
In contrast, an on-premise DAM solution is hosted in the computer center of the client. It’s important to note, however, that only a few DAM providers support this model. The 4ALLPORTAL, for example, can be run as either a SaaS or an on-premise solution.
Server locations and data protection
If you’re looking for a SaaS solution for your company, you should always request information about the computer centers of the various digital asset management providers. This information should include any certifications with details about technical or physical security, server encryption or the general level of server availability. You can view information about our own computer center here.
It should also be noted that many DAM providers operate computer centers with server locations outside of the EU. The data protection regulations that apply there could in some cases be incompatible with the guidelines of the IT department at your company. When it comes to the issue of hosting, the decision-making process should always include the people in charge of your IT.
Service-level agreements (SLA) and support
One aspect essential for running a professional digital asset management solution is access to support, along with an appropriate degree of maintenance. For many customers, the DAM becomes a pivotal element for entire departments. As a consequence, employees become highly dependent on the availability of the DAM solution. If a disruption occurs, it’s essential to have rapid support from the provider.
If you opt for our 4ALLPORTAL, you’ll receive 24/7 access to our premium first-level support, available around the clock to help you solve any problem you might have. For special requirements such as weekend work, we offer individual service-level agreements (SLA) that fulfill any need.
Another variation is the feature-based price. In this case the costs are determined by adding up the prices of various features. Suppose provider XY offers 10 possible features in its DAM solution. Then a fixed price is charged to activate each of these features. The more features the customer wants to use, the higher the final price is.
Price per installation/DAM instance
The last pricing model is billing according to the number of installations/instances, which refers to the number of DAM systems being used at a company. Particularly at large companies, there are often multiple instances of a digital asset management system. This is the case when there are distributed installations and cluster systems, for example. These use cases are usually seen when a company wants to distribute the load across multiple computer centers or needs a high level of availability (as a safeguard against failure).
Flat rate for users, roles and features
As one of the world’s leading digital asset management solutions, the 4ALLPORTAL offers a pricing model not found anywhere else in the industry. You get a flat rate for an unlimited number of users, user groups (roles) and features. In each of our licensing models, you receive all of the available features, allowing you to tap into the full potential of our digital asset management solution at even the smallest scale.
If you’ve read this far, you know what makes a good DAM solution and what you need to consider when comparing different solutions.
But how exactly can digital asset management software help you cut costs in your day-to-day business?
Below we list five of the most commonly used media-related workflows where a DAM solution can save your company a huge amount of time and, therefore, expense.
In view of the considerable hourly wages involved, the internal costs can sometimes reach several thousand euros per workday. It takes people so long to find what they’re looking for because their filing systems are either nonexistent or simply unclear. New employees often need months to comprehend the internal folder structure because the organizing principle is usually based on item codes or product groups. Employees often can’t even find the right network drive where the media files have been stored.
Compare this with the time required for an image search in a digital asset management solution like 4ALLPORTAL and the contrast couldn’t be starker: with a customized DAM solution, a search that used to take 15 minutes or more now takes 3 seconds at most.
It’s important for your future digital asset management software to be precisely tailored to your individual needs and intuitive to use, even for untrained employees. That’s the only way you can implement a company-wide roll-out without causing downtimes in various departments after the DAM is brought in.
This leads to a perpetual back and forth with the IT department that can eat up a huge amount of time and take a toll on nerves – especially for the IT people who are routinely called on to change the user permissions of various employees.
When a digital asset management solution is used, these things are taken into account at the planning stage before the system is even launched. Access permissions can be dynamically assigned and modified in the DAM solution with the help of intelligent user groups and metadata fields. Since you can represent existing folder structures and directories one-to-one in the DAM solution, your assets can easily be integrated and equipped with metadata.
This, in turn, allows you to redefine access permissions for your files, giving you much more flexibility in managing them since access permissions can be defined not just by user group but also by means of metadata fields. For example, entire directories can be hidden from certain users simply by assigning a metadata field a specific value.
In a case like this the employee spends a great deal of time getting the right image, and the constant copying of existing files in different formats results in needless use of more storage space on your server. What’s more, many employees can’t do the required formatting on their own because they don’t have Photoshop.
Now consider how this process would be managed in a professional digital asset management system and you’ll see you have a much more convenient solution to this problem. To create a printable, high-resolution JPEG from a Photoshop file in 4ALLPORTAL, you simply use our download profiles.
Download profiles act like file converters during the export process. For each file type, an export target format is defined. The big advantage here is that batch processing is effortless. For example, you can export 20 Photoshop files all at once in the JPEG format with the ISO Coated V2 color profile.
Then you can choose whether you want to download the files or send them directly to a recipient via e-mail. And the best part is, the entire process takes less than 2 minutes, even with 100 files!
The great thing about a bidirectional interface is the variety of possibilities it offers for users. Many companies use multiple standalone solutions – often more than you can count on one hand. If you want to bring these applications into alignment with one another and enable a simple exchange of data between them, the API is the key to doing so.
For example, if you want to update an asset in the DAM system with master data from your enterprise resource planning system, this task can be largely automated. By using “trigger” fields, you can automatically initiate an exchange or synchronization of data. For example, if you connect your DAM solution to your SAP via the API, the product identifiers in the DAM system can be selected as triggers. When a user enters a value there, the API starts to search through the SAP installation for an associated data record. If a match is found between the product identifier in the DAM system and SAP, additional product information is transferred to the DAM system and automatically used to update the file.
Instead of SAP, this use case could of course just as easily involve content management systems (CMS) like Wordpress, Joomla, Contao or Typo3. With just a mouse click, photos, illustrations and videos can be transferred directly to the desired system in the correct target format. As noted above, this eliminates the time-consuming process of converting files manually and uploading them. The savings involved here are considerable, especially since files can be processed in batches. Another useful feature helps when you are performing search engine optimization (SEO) and need search-friendly photo titles or ALT attributes: you can update this information in the DAM system before exporting.
In fact, we’ve had customers who were looking for digital asset management software because of this very problem. They had already experienced how costly this issue can become. If this situation sounds familiar to you, then we can put your mind at ease. Digital asset management systems have features that help prevent unpleasant surprises.
In the 4ALLPORTAL, for example, image rights are confirmed using individual image clearance workflows that can be controlled via metadata fields. By making simple configuration changes for any given customer, we can implement a clearance process that’s precisely tailored to your needs.
In their simplest form, these clearance workflows use our “clearance traffic light.” With the conventional traffic-light colors, this visual component shows at a glance whether a file has been cleared for use. This traffic light is generally controlled by a simple metadata field which is assigned one of three clearance values (there being one for each color of the traffic light).
Considering the time that you’ll save every week, month and year by using a professional digital asset management solution, you’ll generally see a prompt return on investment (ROI). If you’d like to learn more about our digital asset management system, get in touch with us for a more detailed look at the whole range of features offered by our popular DAM solution. We look forward to hearing from you!