What is Digital Asset Management (DAM)?

Oct 25, 2018Blog, Guest posts

This article defines what digital assets are and what a digital asset management solution is. You’ll also get an overview highlighting the main benefits of such solutions, and a discussion on issues and best practices for managing digital assets correctly.

Digital Assets and DAM Defined

Digital assets are typically images, videos, graphics, accounts, records, spreadsheets, and text files that are stored electronically and provide value to their owners. As modern businesses and organizations become more reliant on technology, the number of digital assets at their disposal grows, and like any set of assets, it’s important to manage them.

MTZD / Pixabay

Digital asset management (DAM) entails a set of processes, procedures, and tools that organizations can put in place with the aim of classifying, organizing, monitoring rights and restrictions for, and easily retrieving their digital assets.

This type of coordinated strategic approach is necessary for optimizing digital asset workflows in enterprises. With DAM, different teams within an enterprise, such as sales and marketing, can easily find and extract value from existing company assets in a cost-effective and efficient way. However, managing digital assets without a tool can quickly become complicated.

A digital asset management solution is a type of software that puts the infrastructure in place to effectively manage digital assets by enabling their ingestion, cataloguing, storage, and retrieval. These tools typically work by building up an taxonomical structure for digital assets and associating each asset with unique metadata so it’s easily discoverable. Some examples of digital asset management solutions are:

Digital Asset Management Benefits

Saves Time

If digital assets remain scattered throughout an organization’s IT infrastructure, retrieving them becomes a huge source of wasted time. DAM tools enable easy retrieval of assets through metadata and intuitive search functionalities. Furthermore, large numbers of assets can be accessed and edited simultaneously.

Centralized View

By providing a centralized view over digital assets and tracking them, DAM processes and software solutions help to ensure that everyone remains on the same page, accessing the same version of each asset across different channels and content platforms. In multinational companies spread across the planet, this type of harmonization becomes imperative, and company employees in different locations can track any updates to digital files.

Improves Digital Asset Security

A DAM system enhances the security of your digital assets by giving controlled access to those assets and allowing you to define permissions such as read-only in addition to protecting certain asset classes from copyright infringement by adding company watermarks to them. Some DAM solutions bolster asset security even more by adding two-step authentication to prevent unauthorized access and/or modification of assets.


The number of digital assets requiring management only grows as the size of a given company grows. Cloud-based digital asset management tools, in particular, provide the infrastructure for scaling digital asset management upwards to incorporate huge numbers of files and increasingly diverse file types.

Digital Asset Management Challenges and Best Practices

While DAM has many benefits, it’s important to understand the challenges of it, including:

  • Privacy: DAM provides controlled access to assets, however, it can be complicated to decide who gets access to which assets.
  • Storage: As the number of digital assets grows, managing them using traditional on-premise storage can become prohibitively expensive.
  • Conflicts: Many companies depend on the use of content management systems to serve website content, however, these systems can conflict with digital asset management by removing metadata from digital files or even replacing the uploaded version of a file with a resized version.
  • Usability: According to a poll on DAM systems, usability was a key concern for companies looking to use these tools. A DAM system needs to be able to serve all types of users regardless of their frequency of asset access or their expertise.

Some best practices for digital asset management are:

  • Begin with an internal audit which should identify all digital assets used by your company and their particular use cases. The audit should also highlight who the main users of a DAM system would be and who needs access to specific assets.
  • Defining an ROI for these systems can prove problematic, so perhaps consider some of the costs of not managing digital assets, such as the fact that companies spend an average of $8,200 per person per year on file management activities and creative professionals spend an average of one out of every 10 hours of their time on file management.
  • To decrease the chances of issues arising with usability, set up a training day to train all your users on the use of a chosen DAM tool.
  • Try to use CMS that doesn’t spoil your DAM efforts by removing file metadata or replacing files upon upload, causing the DAM tool to lose track of such files.

Wrap Up

Given both the costs to productivity and the inefficiencies that arise when not managing digital assets or poorly managing them, it’s clear that DAM tools are worth the investment. The benefits of DAM are numerous and by understanding the main challenges, you can get the most from your chosen tool.


Graphic and website designer, currently, I attend to the maintenance of about thirty sites for existing clients as well as creating websites for the new ones. In my free time, I get into the secrets of the world of Linux, SSH, WP-CLI and I’m preparing this blog.

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