Are Digital Asset Management Systems Worth It?


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Like all software investments, a DAM system can have additional upfront expenses including costs for storage servers, staff training, and IT support. But for large organizations that create, manage, deliver, and archive many thousands of digital assets every year, the ROI can be significant.

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  • Digital Asset Management system (DAM system) is increasingly being adopted by large organizations in diverse industries that create, manage, deliver, and archive many thousands of digital assets every year and the benefits and ROI of DAM solutions can be significant. For more information on Digital Asset Management (DAM solutions), please visit:
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Are Digital Asset Management Systems Worth It?

  1. 1. Are Digital Asset Management Systems Worth It?Every company must be diligent in their efforts to win new business. A Digital AssetManagement (DAM) system can be used as a part of your offerings or capabilities to potentialnew customers. By demonstrating how DAM can facilitate file searching, retrieval andcollaboration, many DAM customers justify cost savings based on new business pitchesalone.Some companies look at DAM as an externally billable service, or provide it at no charge toentice customer loyalty. Many businesses find that once they have a customer using theirDAM solution, it will become part of that customer’s internal workflow, and subsequentlymakes it much more difficult for those customers to disengage. Be sure to include any sales ornew business development employees in the DAM solution. Those employees are oftenlooking for new things to show to existing customers in the drive for new revenues.Many diverse factors are considered when determining ROI. Two of the most commonapproaches with ROI consider either many smaller, short term gains, or one larger, long termgain. Initially, most companies opt for the short term approach. By measuring many smalladvances or savings in labor or materials, and then extrapolating those numbers acrossmultiple employees, and departments, and companies, a small handful of modest examplescan quickly add up to the numbers required to justify the cost of a DAM system. Benefits of ashort term ROI include a reduced risk for justification, quicker turnaround and performance ofthe investment, and a smaller scope.With many ROI scenarios, if one doesn’t bear out in the final tally, others are still able toprove the point. Smaller examples also mean easier and quicker measurement of theinvestment’s performance. For example, if a company does in-house production, a DAMsystem is a tremendous benefit. Most production departments use a rough calculation whereemployees should bill 300% of total employee cost (salary plus benefits.) So if an employeecosts the company $100,000 per year, the production team may target a $300,000 averagebilling per resource. Given a 240 work day year, that breaks down into $1250 per day or a$150 per hour billable target.Using a very conservative example, with a production team of 5 people, saving each of them½ hour per day equals $90,000 per year (5 people x (.5 x hourly rate of $150) x 240 days peryear). Often production employees spend at least 30 minutes per day just searching for assets.Most production managers look at the non billable costs for the return on investment (ROI,)and show this savings as additional income possible with the same staff, versus justificationfor employee reduction. To put it another way, that $90,000 in labor currently is typicallyunbillable, and that labor could instead be used for billable work. That shows new incomewithout a related increase in labor making the department more profitable.The scope of the project can be a double edged sword. Keeping the scope small affords loweroverhead cost, but at a proportional increase to the burden of proof to that smaller group. A
  2. 2. larger scope diversifies and insulates the risk, but the overhead in documenting a larger set ofrequirements will add to the DAM solution timetable.Regardless of whether the ROI will be proven in the short term or longer term, plan forflexibility and modifications down the road. Many DAM customers repeatedly demonstratehow the single investment continues to pay dividends well after the ROI has been proven.Once the base solution is installed, a minor reinvestment in a DAM solution can have largerewards. Additional clients, business units or company initiatives are often introduced toexisting DAM ecosystems with minimal or fractional additional costs. Long term flexibilityshould be a cornerstone of any DAM solution. This technology in particular touches manydifferent areas of the company, and allowing the DAM to either feed or pull from otherbusiness processes is essential. To this end, workflows should be designed to be easilymodified as business requirements change. Adobe’s eXtensible Metadata Platform (XMP) is agood technology to keep in mind for this purpose. XMP is a labeling technology that allowsyou to embed data about a file, known as metadata, into the file itself.The immediate benefit of this is that your digital asset management system is not locked intoa proprietary database model, and those assets are much easier to share across multiplesystems. Adobe has made XMP the industry standard, and provides software libraries forauthoring or modifying the metadata of those assets.Validation of ROI is often overlooked or undervalued. Be aggressive and optimistic, but witha small readily identifiable example. An eighteen month target for the ROI is usually quiteachievable, but often the ROI is realized much quicker, sometimes within a few months.Document the initial requirements, the final agreed to set of scope objectives, and what theactual results were. Rarely does the finished solution exactly match the initial objectives, butoften additional sources of ROI are discovered along the way. This helps solidify the originalarguments and helps bolster the validation of the ROI.DAM solutions are not impulse purchases. They require collecting all business requirements,thoughtful consideration of sometimes opposing viewpoints, a commitment to driving theprocess to completion and proving that the project was an unqualified success. Your DAMvendor should have practical experience in how these solutions are presented, deployed, andmanaged long term. By understanding the company’s fiduciary responsibility, and how thecompany generates revenue, a DAM solution can provide a tremendous cost savings and asource of revenue for many years.About IO IntegrationIO Integration is one of the leading system integrators in the United States, specializing in theNorth Plains Xinet digital asset management solution, iBrams integrated brand managementsolution, high-end server based automation, and web-based comprehensive approval andproduction tools that provide profitable workflow solutions for creative organizations.