Comparing 3 Methods for Managing Digital Assets at Your Organization

Updated: Jun 20, 2019

Digital Asset Management (DAM) can be considered any method by which an organization controls the preservation, destruction, or transfer of digital files. Though the term is sometimes used loosely, there’s a distinct difference between general media files and assets, however - metadata. The underlying metadata in assets describes their use in business, their value, and activity associated with the asset. Knowing this difference, let’s examine two common ways businesses manage their files, plus the differences associated with DAM.



3 Methods of DAM

The first, which we’ll call simple file storage, is when the business develops their own standards for asset management and operates within their existing on-premises servers and file structure. Alternatively, companies can rely on cloud-based file sync and share (FSS) platforms, tools that allow users to host files in the cloud. Finally, enterprises can implement fully-featured Enterprise DAM platforms which provide additional categorization, governance, and sharing capabilities due to their inclusion of underlying metadata.

Implementation

Simple File Storage

As the name implies, the base infrastructure for Simple File Storage requires no prior setup or installation on its own. However, in order to utilize this method effectively, enterprises must put procedures in place that describe precisely how assets should be organized. A rigid nomenclature and thorough training will help accomplish this, but compliance can potentially slip at any time and disrupt the management structure.

FSS

The cloud-based FSS method can exist purely as an online-based software, meaning no installation is required, though employees may choose to install a desktop version for offline access to files. Similar to Simple File Storage, FSS will require planning regarding the setup of folders, but compliance is strengthened due to the administrators’ ability to specifically assign folder access to employees. FSS methods still require heavy focus on setting a standard procedure because workflow can be interrupted by even the occasional mistake in organization. Walking back and identifying, then subsequently correcting, those mistakes requires a significant dedication of resources.

Enterprise DAM

Installing and configuring an Enterprise DAM requires preparation on a larger scalethan the other options. The drastic differences in organization require assets to be clearly categorized by department use, asset type, and protection level. Typically it is best to work with a team of experts to ensure onboarding is carried out smoothly, but once onboarding is successfully completed, the Enterprise DAM system requires little maintenance and perfectly aligns with the goals of the business. 

Ease of Use

Simple File Storage

Although operating systems may provide slightly different experiences for users, Simple File Storage’s folder-based organization tends to be intuitive for users. Depending on how well protocols are established and followed within a company, locating file resources can be straightforward. However, straightforward organization usually requires adding layers of depth to the folder structure, and more layers means more time required for navigation… in other words, decreased efficiency.

FSS

FSS is relatively easy to use, and providers typically have platform options for consumers and for enterprises. The ability to synchronize files between online and offline storage also makes access simpler. FSS platforms’ reliance on internet connectivity can limit employee access for the most recently updated files, however. Similar to Simple File Storage, FSS can lead to decreased efficiency.

Enterprise DAM

After setup, Enterprise DAMs are straightforward to navigate and allow for even more precise searching because assets’ metadata provides business context to the user. Enterprise DAM also allows for the introduction of workflow automation, something that is not found in the other management options reviewed in this blog. Finally, Enterprise DAM facilitates collaboration by including social streams, i.e. commenting and reviewing community activity surrounding assets, which adds a level to management and visibility that is particularly beneficial to administrative personnel.

Security

Simple File Storage

Keeping all files on-premise for an enterprise is the best way to ensure those files are placed under the strongest and most closely controlled security protocols, as IT has a direct line of access to putting those protocols in place. However, changes to protocols can take time, and may in some cases require analysis of systems on an employee-by-employee basis. This can pose a particularly significant problem when a business relies on remote workers.

FSS

Nearly all FSS platforms will be compliant with baseline regulations for data security, but customization beyond that is limited. Asset access can be granted to users through the use of secure links, but those links can in turn be shared to unauthorized personnel.

Enterprise DAM

Enterprise DAMs provide a unified platform on which administrators can observe all of the activity surrounding assets. That degree of visibility innately provides a level of control, but the tools also allow administrators to pre-emptively set permissions and visibility restrictions that keep users in the relevant asset microsystems that most directly pertain to their departments. This brings the chances of noncompliance much closer to zero than the other platforms can allow.

Systems Integration

Simple File Storage

Unless custom API functions are put in place, media files in an Simple File Storage environment must be uploaded and downloaded as needed between software like CRM applications. Some applications are able to pick up files via hot folders but these require constant monitoring and are difficult to keep synchronized should a pick up fail.

FSS

Some software integrates neatly with a few of the largest FSS platforms, like Dropbox, and allows sharing to be maintained on the FSS platform. In instances where this integration does not exist, however, downloading and uploading will be required.

Enterprise DAM

Integrations may vary by provider, but established Enterprise DAM providers like OpenText are compatible with several major enterprise data management suites by SAP®, Oracle®, Salesforce®, and Microsoft®. These integrations come out-of-the-box and there is no additional setup or provisioning required sync them, since the third-party applications already identify assets by metadata in a similar fashion to Enterprise DAM.

Considering the strengths and drawbacks of these three management solutions, choosing one will largely depend on an organization’s size, but keep in mind that only one of these options is truly suitable for asset management. Smaller businesses are likely able to get by using Simple File Storage and FSS solutions, though they require some planning up front to be truly effective. Enterprises and larger businesses, however, are better off using an Enterprise DAM solution for their work, as it provides the best balance of compliance, customized control, and efficiency, plus insight into asset usage and value through metadata.

Does Enterprise DAM seem like a good fit for your business? Have you analyzed your current infrastructure to determine your next steps?