Do you REALLY need that?

After a break in transmission we are now back to normal service with me reflecting inwardly and also outwardly to the world of DAM to question what value we are adding and what the industry as a whole is contributing to. Most of the things you read about DAM are about the added value it brings, the reduced time to market, the collaboration and sharing tools, the ability to find that hard to find content that a business has spent so much money creating.

But one thing that never seems to get talked about is if DAM and the industry itself is actually contributing in a negative way to the whole proliferation of unused and unneeded digital assets. In fact, it begs the question, is DAM actually a bad thing? I realise this may be a controversial thing to say, but bear with me, hear me out and you might see where I am coming from.

In the past I have talked a lot about curation before creation, how we should think more about the digital assets we generate and think of them with more of a real value measure in mind. So the question is, does the ability to have a DAM to store and manage digital assets mean that businesses have become more flippant in the volume of content they create? Has it become a case of more is better because you have more choice, or should it be more the ethos of less is more? More quality + less quantity = More value.

Having access to a solution that allows you to store an almost infinite amount of digital assets should not mean that then you allow content creators to just generate and store assets at will. In the physical world we have such a strong drive now towards recycling and reuse and understanding the concept of waste, but why do we not have the same mentality towards digital assets?

And how about asset value? Does having ten images that look virtually the same, but just from slightly different angles, give the business any value for nine of those pictures? At the end of the day a company is spending money to create assets, paying people to manage those asset, potentially paying teams of people to tag those assets, and then there is the cost of storage. If on average 20% of assets in a solution are duplicates, then does it not make business sense to save the cost of that content by just not creating it all?

Unfortunately this is something that has become almost intrinsic to us all. With the availability of cameras in pretty much every phone we all have a tendency to point the lens at something we think is interesting and then take multiple shots of the same thing. And at the end of the day we do not want our creative teams to be any less creative, we still want them to produce valuable content, and a DAM can give transparency to the cost of a single asset. After all we often use that as our ROI measure for reuse rather than recreation, however the DAM solutions of the future need to be smarter, they need to help us actually reduce the volume of assets that get created and uploaded and tagged and then never get looked at ever again.

I would like to see DAMs challenge every asset that is uploaded with the question, ‘Do you REALLY need that?’ or in a more elegant manner using the AI technology of the future to interrogate the system and find similar assets and questions the need for the new asset. And if the pop can really say ‘Do you REALLY need this?’ then I shall buy a beer for the vendor that shows me that. It really irritates me to think I am contributing to any kind of waste, because we cannot just continue to think that this as just digital waste as it isn’t. Its a waste of talented peoples time, its waste of space, it means more servers somewhere and more physical space as, get this, the ‘cloud’ is not actually a cloud.

So lets be smarter about not only our asset creation, but also our technology to help solve this problem. Lets drive to create better, higher quality and more valuable assets, as every one we create is an asset our future generations inherit and measure the value of our society in, so surely it would be nice to be measured more in the quality of our content and not the volume of it.

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