Digital Asset Management and the knowledge gap: Discovery

This is part two of an ongoing series. Part one looked at Fact 1: Digital Asset Management is a metadata engine

Fact 2: You do not know what you do not know!

If you imagine digital asset management as a chess game, some of us have a base understanding. We may know some tricks for winning quickly against a lesser opponent. We may even know that after three moves of the game, players face 121 million possibilities; one more action is a staggering 288 billion potential outcomes. Digital asset management is a lot like chess. And like chess, DAM experts practice the 20/40/40 rule.

20% Discovery – People, Systems, Workflows, Information.

40% Planning – Governance, Data Models, Rights, Roles, Permissions.

40% Execution – Implementation, Migration, Integration, Analysis.

This article will focus on the discovery part of building your DAM strategy, finding the right teams, building KPI’s & demonstrating ROI. Hence, the business understands the benefits and costs and, more importantly, the resources needed to make DAM successful and utilized to its most total capability within an organization. The critical part here is thinking across the enterprise. As stated in the last article, “how many of us do not engage, use and reuse content daily.” Simply put, most of us engage with content at various levels every day. Yet, most DAM initiatives start within a departmental silo and forget that almost 100% of the business also needs a centralized content repository.

If the business silo starts the initiative with a focused intent on the content lifecycle, from idea to archive, all well and good. Usually, we find it is the marketing department, creative operations or IT and, more often than not, a few individuals who recognize either a problem or a solution to the exponential growth of content, platforms, campaigns, communication and sales.

Image cuortesy the author.

To fix the issue of silo thinking, go broad in the discovery phase. One of the best ways to garner organizational knowledge is seeking input from as many stakeholders as possible. Develop questions that will provide insights into content workflows, seek out how users currently operate with content. Are they ideators, creators, curators or analysts?

The question layer is a fundamental part of garnering content-based knowledge operations. Starting from simple questions such as how many attempts it takes you to find the content you need, how many systems, and which software tools you use in your daily operations. A considerable amount of return on the investment comes from solving the number of attempts needed to find the right content and how often people give up and resend a brief to the agency. The hemorrhaging of time and stress is one of the most significant factors.

We recommend a form-based system survey distributed via email, using the data gathered to aggregate content lifecycle across departments. It is finding common problems, tools, workflows and bottlenecks in the content supply chain. This approach helps build a current state view, which can map a vision of the future state. It will help you identify subject matter experts for your stakeholders, build consensus and momentum for the planning and execution stages.

Image courtesy the author.

Mistake 2: DAM is not a silo event

During the discovery phase with clients, we hear time and time again the phrase ‘we use content just like other companies.’ If only that were true. Yes, content types like campaigns, advertisements, print collateral and social media posts are relatively consistent in format. The same is valid for high resolution, jpegs, png’s, eps, and other standard file formats.

DAM file types and formats are the standard modus operandi for most vendors. However, as analysts and consultants, we look at metadata and workflows and factor in change management, rights, roles, permissions, technical specifications, version control, template engines, cloud provisioning, embedding, tracking, analysis and API’s. Planning governance, compliance and rights with digital rights management plugging into a myriad of the marketing tech stacks, with embargoes, content sizing and expiration dates. These are a few of the critical attributes and questions needed for a detailed digital asset management strategy.

Chess, like poker, is easy to play but can take a lifetime to master. However, sometimes luck plays a part in short-term wins. You can choose a vendor first, which can be an excellent fit for all intense purposes until you master the content lifecycle from ideation, creation, curation, and analysis. A solid DAM strategy takes knowledge, skill and a complete understanding of all the factors at play.

Assessing your current state involves several factors, firstly you will need to evaluate your current state capabilities across dimensions such as People, Systems, Processes and information.

Top Tip 1: Make it all about the people

Sadly the people aspect of a transformational strategy as it relates to technology purchases fairly often fails. Simply put, the business focuses too much on the systems, workflows and platforms with little concern for the actual users. In the DAM, metadata plays a significant role in the user’s experience and its automation through workflows and analysis.

The need for talented teams of people is necessary for effective DAM operation as people form the backbone of any DAM system. In the discovery phase, rather than focusing on individuals or individual departments themselves, attempts should be made to assess the company’s overall proficiency.

Technical expertise

An assessment of the abilities of those who form the DAM infrastructure in the management of DAM technologies. Companies with optimal or operational levels of proficiency understand the importance of knowledge transfer and operate with an understanding of the future business requirements related to DAM.

Business expertise

Business expertise and vision relate to understanding fundamental DAM concepts to maintain the overriding idea of DAM strategy. Companies will operate an effective system geared towards organized knowledge transfer and future-readiness with technical expertise and operational and optimal levels.


Starting and staying in a silo mentality will not garner the orchestration DAM can bring to operations. Companies at functional and optimal levels will employ cross-functional teams to constantly refine DAM capabilities and maintain a high level of asset value into the future.

Read next: Enterprise DAM platforms: A marketer’s guide

All in and en passant

DAM discovery done right will enable even the smaller organization to take out the king of the current domains. DAM done right is a competitive advantage, and future proofs the content lifecycle in a governed manner. Taking the time and energy to do the discovery right at the beginning of your journey will save you a thousand hours and wasted resources if and when you attempt to do it at the vendor negotiation and implementation point.

Take it from someone who knows the pain of both DAM and poker.

In the next article, we will walk through gap analysis and resources.

The post Digital Asset Management and the knowledge gap: Discovery appeared first on MarTech.


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