Digital Asset Management: What It Is And Why You Need It

5th Kind
6 min readJan 22, 2021

Here’s the thing: as your company’s digital assets proliferate, they become harder and harder to keep track of. We’ve all been there, looking through drives and emails, not sure where you or your coworker left that one file. And then once you do manage to find it, it’s unclear what version of the file is the actual final approved one. Then there’s the hassle of watermarking every file before sending it to a client. All this wasted effort burns time and adds costs to your business.

Luckily, there is a solution to this madness. Digital asset management (DAM) systems ensure your content is findable, secure, and accessible by different teams. And that’s just the beginning of a good DAM system’s capabilities.

In our remote and global working environments, digital asset management is no longer just a business tool, it’s a business standard. Read on to learn about:

What is Digital Asset Management?

Steve Cronan, Digital Asset Management Expert and 5th Kind Founder , explains:

Digital asset management is the idea of organizing information in a way that’s findable, usable, and that maximizes its value. We like to think of it as turning files into assets, because that’s exactly what a good digital asset management system does.

To dive a little deeper, a digital asset is the combination of the file itself and its metadata, or, the information about the file, such as:

  • Technical Information: File properties like its file size and resolution.
  • Structural Information: How you would organize the file. It’s taxonomy or hierarchy, and associative information about the file’s status and other pertinent information.
  • Descriptive Information: Metadata about the metadata. Generally, these are notes and information about the file imported from other software.

Additionally, it’s key to understand the relationships between these entities: the parent-child relationships within the files, the dependencies between files, the genealogy, and how all these connections come together to create projects and manage content. All of this is built into a centralized digital asset management platform that stores, secures, organizes, and enables you to share your files and information easily and efficiently.



Top 7 Ways A DAM Adds Value To Your Business

1. Centralized Scalability

If your organization has gotten to the size where it’s difficult to quickly find information, you need a digital asset management system. By centralizing your storage with a user-friendly, secure interface, teams spread around the world can access files originating from anywhere in the company. It’s also important to choose a scalable system that can grow as you grow.

2. Increased File Findability

Google Drive, Box, and Dropbox are great for individuals. But as companies grow, they need a holistic, centralized DAM system with standardized taxonomies and rules so that everyone is fluent in it and can find any file at any time. Faceted search functions, keyword and keyphrase searches, as well as hierarchical browse functionality are essential to locating files by name, tags, organizational structures, and more.

3. Trusted Security

A good digital asset management platform has multiple levels of security controls, including automated personalized watermarking for every system user, forensic watermarking capabilities, and access controls that govern permissions based on file status, team, workflow, or other metadata. Security needs to be guaranteed with regular system penetration testing and code review.

4. Reduces Redundancy & Increases Accuracy

Many organizations experience the frustration of getting too far into the review and approval process using the wrong files. You need to make sure you’re looking at the right version of the right files in each stage of your process. Clear and proper file organization saves time and money, and helps prevent the wrong file or version from being published.

5. Facilitates Team Collaboration & Online Workflows

Digital Asset Management systems are incredibly useful to a wide variety of departments, from creatives to business leaders, legal and financial divisions, and technical teams, too. Anyone who requires a smooth pipeline for approval and distribution of assets would benefit.

For example, a DAM-enabled workflow could look something like this: a creator starts by uploading new content for approval. Account managers and the legal team could then give feedback via comments and annotations until the final version was approved. Later, the marketing team could return to the centralized DAM to reuse the content and facilitate new campaigns. With global organizations, this content would then be provided to localization teams for further distribution. Ultimately, the organization archivists maintain access to the digital content in perpetuity.

6. Faster Decision-Making

To make decisions quickly and confidently, you need to know you’re looking at the right files, and the right version of those files. DAM systems help your whole team stay on the same page. In addition to making versioning crystal clear, a good DAM system should capture comments and approvals from different teams, ensuring that only approved finished files go to market, such as toy model designs, campaign art, or images with actors or art that require clearance.

7. User Friendliness & Accessibility

Any DAM system worth a damn (sorry) removes the technical considerations from the creative process. That means you don’t have to think about what device your files are on, how they’re secured, their size, or their digital file type. The best DAMs stay in the background, letting you work how you want to work.

A Final Word on Digital Asset Management, System Examples, and CORE by 5th Kind

The term “Digital Asset Management” is thrown around a lot. At its most basic, it can be used to describe any number of file storing systems. If it holds a digital file with some metadata, it is technically an asset system, but few people would consider their phones or email “asset systems.”

Some systems offer directed point solutions that manage a one type of asset workflow. Video content systems are tuned for video viewing but often lack the features of a document management system. Imagine logging into YouTube to read a contract! Many systems are directed toward managing assets for specific, temporary workflows, but don’t take into account searchability, findability, reuse of assets, or long-term asset archive considerations.

Larger systems attempt to meet cross-industry asset management requirements. While these offer a broader feature set, many are complex and are difficult to use. Those that excel in usability to service the creative marketplace often lack the security that certain enterprise level organizations, like movie studios, require. Other DAM systems excel in security to address the needs of corporations or government contracting, but are unfortunately reminiscent of Windows 95 in their outdated user interface.

Between the point solutions and the large, unwieldy enterprise DAM systems, you’ll find 5th Kind’s CORE. We offer the balance of usability that any business needs with the broad feature set of the pricey enterprise DAMs, all while performing with the highest levels of security. Rising from the crucible of the creative filmmaking process and designed to be flexible enough to support any industry’s data structure and taxonomy, CORE’s metadata-based access controls, watermarking, real-time collaboration and accelerated distribution save our partners time and money. It’s the best balance in the DAM marketplace.