A guide to cloud-based Digital Asset Management

Organisations large and small are generating more and more digital content. The result is a modern-day challenge for just about any business – a volume of files and folders, which when contributed to by many people, can become hugely frustrating to navigate. Team members’ time is often lost searching for previously created files, ranging from imagery to videos, documents to presentations, and audio to design files. In addition, file sharing outside of the organisation is a regular necessity. General file sharing services have their limitations and uploading files from internal shared servers to transfer sites can be an administrative burden.

Digital Asset Management (DAM) is a solution designed to help teams overcome this challenge and unleash their potential through better file sharing and collaboration. It ensures entire teams, departments or even your whole organisation is securely organising digital content in a consistent manner.

On-premise versus cloud

Historically, DAM systems resided on-premise, requiring hosting on your own server as well as owning responsibility for the infrastructure and updates. This would typically cost tens of thousands of Pounds, Dollars or Euros up-front, with ongoing maintenance costs and the challenge of implementation as well as user training. Usually it would require an implementation specialist from the vendor side and at least two IT people within an organisation dedicated to managing the system. Your IT staff would be in complete control of the version installed, and be responsible for feature updates and data security – all meaning this was a substantial investment decision.

It’s therefore pretty obvious why this limited take-up of a great tool – particularly amongst small-medium or geographically diverse companies.

New cloud-based DAM changes the game.

Now anyone can gain the benefits of state-of-the-art DAM functionality at a commercially viable price point. And as such, adoption of this new software-as-a-service (SaaS) is rapidly increasing among private, public sector and non-profit organisations of all shapes and sizes.

Why do organisations choose cloud-based DAM?

There are several benefits to a DAM platform that supports you to safely store your digital content in the cloud:

1. Fast onboarding and intuitive interface – it’s so simple to get started. Thanks to easy importing you can have content in your library in minutes. Uploading selected folders from a shared server or desktop to your DAM platform is fast, and if your team uses services like Dropbox, Box or Google Drive, you can sync these folders in a matter of clicks.

Great user experience is an expectation for today’s top-performing cloud-based tools and DAM is no exception. Your team or external partners won’t need support to show them how to use the platform – simply install and go!

2. Usability for teams in multiple locations – as SaaS solutions are accessible via web browsers from anywhere in the world, you can open up access to whoever, wherever – regardless of their geography and IT infrastructure.

3. Provision of third-party access to particular files – collaboration with external parties (i.e. people who don’t have access to your servers) is a necessity in almost every industry. With cloud-based DAM systems, admins can provide accessibility to approved individuals or teams, but limit access to only the assets they need.

With numerous individuals involved in creating, sharing and using files, you need everybody involved – including outside suppliers – to work in the same way. One central and secure system provides consistent organisation, searchability and version control of all your digital assets.

4. Cloud storage capacity that will scale – if your DAM platform usage increases, it won’t cause you a headache – it can grow with the needs of your business. Dedicated DAM software uses the likes of Amazon Web Services to offer ample storage capacity. It keeps assets in one central location, with tagging so they can easily be found and shared. Usage often accelerates once DAM is embedded into workplace culture.

5. Constantly evolving functionality – with all updates to the platform managed by the DAM software provider, you won’t have to rely on your IT team to provide you the latest version. New features are frequently added to DAM platforms and you can benefit from these immediately. When choosing a DAM provider, be sure to look for the following:

  • Powerful search filtering using tags, keywords, metadata and customer fields. The ability to search by file size and other factors – including which photographer or content creator – can also speed up searches.
  • Facial recognition is perfect if you want to instantly find all saved imagery featuring a particular person.
  • Version control manages updates to all types of files and ensures your digital assets are always up-to-date particularly when different parties might all be working concurrently on the same project files.
  • Portals for external partners and customers that can be customised with your own landing page and branding – you can empower your end-users with the latest content at their fingertips, while all under your own brand appearance.
  • A Google Chrome plugin lets your users search your media library without leaving their browser-based email, document or PowerPoint presentation.
  • Integration with design programmes and other programmes, including Adobe Photoshop and InDesign. This means faster editing and file saves are synced with the centralised DAM storage system so everyone else immediately has access to the latest version.

Who is using cloud-based DAM?

DAM is used across all vertical sectors and industries. While the need to manage and share files transcends every department, it’s typically favoured by marketing, creative and sales teams who have to store, share and organise an abundance of visual content.

You might be a retailer or manufacturer with an extensive library of imagery for current and previous products and collections. Or perhaps you’re a brand owner who needs to provide a range of up-to-date branded assets – both internally to teams and externally to agencies and partners – ensuring your image and messaging is consistently presented. You might be heavily involved in research and development and need a way to carefully organise design iterations across multiple projects.

Whatever the needs of your business, cloud-based DAM is unlocking productivity and empowering people to organise, find and share their digital assets in a far better way. When your content is organised, your team is organised.

Cory is Head of Marketing at Canto and a passionate B2B software digital marketing specialist devoted to sales-ready lead creation and nurturing.
Canto is the original digital asset management system with over 30 years of providing solutions to customers. In his role, Cory’s expertise extends to helping marketing teams unleash their brands and content with digital asset organising, retrieval and sharing capabilities. He calls Berlin home but divides his time between London and San Francisco, where Canto is headquartered.

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