Lets start at the very beginning, (who has got a sound of music song in their head now?).
Often I am asked by people what I do for a living. When I tell them I often get quizzical looks, polite smiles, and general confusion. Because of that I have tried to come up with a simple way to explain exactly what DAM is and what I, and many other digital professionals actually do.
I tend to start with a quick questionnaire that most people can identify with.
To begin, how many of you have?
1. A smartphone with a built in camera
2. A digital camera
3. A tablet with a camera
4. A portable video recorder
5. All of the above (you tech nut)
If you have any of the aforementioned do you use it to do any of the following?
1. Take photos
2. Take videos
3. Record sound
4. Make movies by stitching together all of the above.
Here is a normal scenario. Imagine you are going on holiday, picture yourself in your dream beach/city/cruise etc location. The sun is shining, if that’s what I’m want, or the snow is perfect if you are skiing or snowboarding, and you take out your image capturing device of choice to make a digital record that perfect memorable time.
You take a picture, you record a video, you record some audio, you take some more pictures, you film you mates falling into/over/under/onto something, you take another picture, you film a cat acting in an amusing manner, etc, etc, on and on. And by the end of your holiday you have taken hundreds of pictures or videos, treasured memories of your amazing time away.
Then what happens? Worst case, you forget about them, delete some to make space for new memories, forget the others. Best case you hook your digital device up to your computer and you download all these lovely digital files. And generally they are called DSC_001.jpg or video1.mov or such similar unfamiliar and unhelpful names.
Now imagine you have download to your computer a thousand files, or even ten files? How do you then find that perfect picture of you eating pastries and drinking coffee in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower on a sunny day in June with your mother pulling faces behind you because the sun is in her eyes and she forgot her sunglasses?
This is where digital asset management comes in.
Regardless of whether you are a large multi national company, or Joe bloggs on the street, you are going to be producing digital files which you then need to be able to find. With DAM you have an advantage because you have the following;
A central storage/repository
Information and description about the file, (metadata, which we will cover later)
The ability to search and produce visual results and filtering.
That’s the basics, and of course it takes work, there are no magic DAM elves who will come and manage your digital files, it takes time, investment, and company or personal buy in, but when you have all of that then you have the ability to make tangible financial in terms of saving and monetising, and resource saving changes to your company.
If you have digital assets, if you can’t find or manage your assets, if you are recreating rather than reusing assets already in existence, if you are paying people to spend hours searching for assets and content, then you need Digital Asset Management.