Formulating a digital asset management strategy


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Formulating a digital asset management strategy

  1. 1. 24 MAY 2006 Digital asset management Formulating a digital asset management strategy Is your organisation getting maximum value from the images, music, video and software distributions that it owns and uses? If not, it’s time to think about putting that situation right. THERE IS a common misconception By Nigel Atkinson and Giles Blackburn A digital asset is an asset that exists that digital asset management (DAM) only as a numeric encoding expressed in is only of concern to certain types of binary form. Or, to be slightly less company: publishers, broadcasters, You will increasingly find yourself abstract, as computer storage files. record companies, film studios and other reading about digital asset management Images, music, video and computer ‘media creators’. (DAM) as it transitions from a system software distributions are all examples of That may have been true at one time, add-on to a strategic IT solution. This digital assets. but these days, many non-media workshop introduces digital asset It is important to note that, in companies are also benefiting from better management as it applies to the enterprise enterprise DAM, we are only concerned management of their digital assets. In and offers a strategic review framework with managing the finished product, fact, we’d go as far as to argue that any for establishing and meeting the needs the asset. Works in progress are company that uses graphics or media that your organisation has in this area. better managed by domain-specific needs at least to be thinking about DAM. management solutions. As analysts from IT market research Defining DAM Enterprise digital asset management company Gartner point out: “Enterprise We shall begin by clarifying what we is about gaining maximum value from DAM is for everyone who uses graphics mean by enterprise digital asset these valuable resources, with the key or media at all, and every web page uses management. But before we can do aims being to: graphics. Such organisations are not so we must first define what we mean necessarily engaged in the creation or sale by a digital asset. maintain a record of ownership and of graphics or media as a product; they provides location of digital assets; include nearly all those with a web the following definition presence or any investment in brand or for the word ‘asset’: corporate identity assets in any medium.” “A resource having economic In fact, the Gartner analysts argue, a value that an individual, lack of focus on managing digital assets corporation or country can quickly become costly for owns or controls with the organisations that have substantial hidden expectation that it will investments in web graphics and design. provide future benefit.” Photography and graphic design are This definition clearly expensive, and audio or video production highlights the three more so. Although many corporate core attributes of an workers have the skills and responsibility asset: economic value, to create corporate text documents, media ownership or control; creation is a special skill that is often and the expectation provided by expensive contractors or a of future benefit limited in-house staff. (see figure one). Figure one: Anatomy of an asset
  2. 2. JUNE 2006 25 protect the economic value of digital studios. This type assets and rights; of organisation maximise the future benefit of digital creates new assets assets and rights. and feeds them into the eco- Digital asset management infrastructure system. Digital should be distinct and complimentary to assets are often related systems, such as web content the core business management, document management of this class and publishing systems. Integration of organisation, between systems can, in many cases, so DAM may optimise the value of an enterprise DAM be a business Figure two: The enterprise digital asset management landscape solution (see figure two). critical function. Is this something that you should be Asset creators are likely to focus on these Storage management; considering for your organisation? The areas of digital asset management: Disaster recovery. answer to that question is certainly yes, if your organisation: Syndication; Asset consumers use content: marketing Rights distribution tracking; agencies, broadcast production companies Cannot say for certain that it is not Access control; and movie theatres. This type of paying a number of times for the Version control; organisation is an end-point in the asset rights to use a particular asset; Metadata management; value-chain within the eco-system. Digital Does not know if it is breaking Storage management; assets are critical to the core activities of licence agreements by using assets in Disaster recovery. this class of organisation and the ability ways that it does not have the right to; to quickly locate assets is essential. Asset Does not know if its own assets are Asset agencies, meanwhile, broker content. consumers are likely to focus on these being used by others without These include stock image agencies, areas of digital asset management: agreement/payment; online retailers and film distributors. Does not keep track of where This type of organisation manages Rights ownership management; particular assets are stored; and distributes assets within Asset acquisition management; Is not able to easily find digital assets the eco-system. Digital assets are Asset access; that it owns or has rights to in order the core business Access control; to re-use them; of this class of organisation, so Version control. Does not know how much it is a centralised digital costing to store and manage the same asset management assets many times in different places; system, integrated May lose valuable digital assets in the with commerce, event of a major systems failure. procurement and accounting systems, If any of these statements apply to your is vital to cost- organisation, then you should consider effective operation. whether there is a business case for DAM Asset agencies are through a DAM strategic review process. likely to focus on There are four stages to this. these areas of digital asset management: Phase 1: Classify your organisation The first phase in this review process Asset acquisition is to classify your organisation according management; to its interactions with digital assets. Rights ownership The digital asset ‘eco-system’ is made management; up of four different classes of Access control; organisation. However, a single Syndication; organisation may fall into multiple Rights distribution classifications (see figure three). tracking; Asset creators are content producers: Metadata design studios, record labels and film management; Figure three: Digital asset ecosystem
  3. 3. 26 JUNE 2006 Infrastructure management stakeholders responsible for IT, business Syndication: The mechanisms and legal functions. through which assets are syndicated A helpful and tangible starting point in digital form; for this review is to perform an inventory Storage management: Management of existing DAM systems or system of storage requirements for the components used within the organisation. digital asset archive; Many content management systems Disaster recovery: Tracking of offer asset and image libraries; design and assets to ensure that they are branding agencies frequently provide recoverable after planned-for online brand books; and there are disaster scenarios. probably numerous intranet or shared drive based resource libraries deployed Archive management across your organisation (see figure five). Asset acquisition: Management of It is important to make this inventory the addition of assets to maintain as comprehensive as possible; the archive quality; organisational DAM strategy can easily be Metadata management: Ongoing undermined if it is not capable of management of asset metadata replacing or integrating existing systems to support external processes and processes. The inventory should and systems; describe the capabilities, users and Asset access: Systems, such as contents of each existing system. search engines and taxonomies, The output of this review is a Figure four: Key functions of enterprise digital facilitating access to support people comprehensive set of needs that must be asset management and systems seeking specific assets met by the DAM strategy. These needs for re-use; should be quantified in terms of direct Finally, most enterprise organisations Asset version control: Maintenance benefits, such as potential cost savings consume assets. However, asset of multiple versions of assets, and new or enhanced revenue consumption is generally a function where required. opportunities. Less easily quantifiable of secondary activities, such as use benefits, such as licensing compliance and in promotional materials. This type Compliance the enforcement of corporate guidelines of organisation deals with low volumes Rights ownership tracking: should be prioritised and, where possible, of high-cost and high-value assets. Tracking of rights to managed a monetary value attributed to each. Enterprise users are likely to focus on assets to ensure that they are not these areas of digital asset management: used in a manner inconsistent with Phase 3: Detailed business rights owned; requirements Asset acquisition management; Rights distribution tracking: At this stage, having defined areas of Corporate guideline enforcement; Tracking of rights transferred to need within the organisation, we begin to Asset access; third parties to ensure that assets build a picture of the detailed business Access control; are not unlawfully exploited; requirements. The process of defining Version control. Access control: Ensuring that business requirements must be driven by assets are only made available to consultation with the personnel who will Classifying your organisation according authorised individuals; ultimately interact with any resulting to this simple scheme enables you to Corporate guideline enforcement: DAM implementation. The requirements focus your review on the most Helping to ensure that corporate will not address technology issues at this appropriate DAM functions (see figure standards and guidelines are stage, but should detail key functional four) and to determine the most likely adhered to by centralising control requirements, interactions with existing asset related external interactions for of corporate assets. systems, soft issues, such as the technical your business. competence of staff, and use cases for After all, each of the classes of Phase 2: Identify needs key tasks and processes. organisation within the digital asset eco- The second stage in the strategy review is The complexity of business system has slightly different DAM to examine each of the DAM functions requirements for each function should requirements. These requirements may be suggested by the classifications into then be weighed up against the value satisfied through a combination of these which your organisation falls. This should projected earlier in the process. This key digital asset management functions: be a consultative process, involving provides a useful ‘reality check’,
  4. 4. JUNE 2006 27 time. For most rates of change and levels of innovation organisations, this in technology. is best looked at The conclusion of this strategic over a three- to review process is a business case for an five-year period. investment in DAM within your Asset agencies organisation. The business case will and some asset clearly outline the position of your creators may also organisation within the digital asset wish to take a ecosystem; define DAM needs, longer term view. requirement complexity and value to the The study will business; and provide a forecast for quantify rates of future requirements. asset acquisition Figure five: Common digital asset repositories and creation, and detail any Nigel Atkinson is a director of NeoWorks, a highlighting functions that require a high expected changes in asset usage and software development and consultancy company degree of complexity while offering little syndication requirements over the that has worked on content and collaboration value to the business. selected period. Ideally, this review should management projects for such clients as Channel The outcome of this phase is a value- be performed with reference to the 5 Broadcasting, Royal Doulton, Levi’s Europe prioritised list of detailed DAM organisational IT plan for the same and Walkers Snack Foods. He can be contacted requirements for the business. This report period. While this review is unlikely to at is one of the key inputs into any future forecast major new technical system design process prior to the requirements, it can be helpful for Giles Blackburn is head of the digital media implementation of a DAM solution. capacity planning and may help inform consultancy practice at CVL, a business integration options. development and technology delivery company. Phase 4: Planning for the future When making forecasts over this CVL has undertaken projects for a range of The final phase of the strategy relatively long period, it is often helpful to large retail and media companies including review examines how organisational perform a review of a similar historical Argos, Entertainment UK, the BBC and UKtv. DAM requirements will change over period. This can give an indication of key He can be contacted at need reprints of ei articles? Please email Adam Scrimshire with your requests on or telephone +44 (0)20 8785 5914