Widen's Response to the 10 Characteristics of a Digital Asset Management System

by Craig Bollig, July 1, 2014

10 characteristics of a digital asset management system

In 2014, Elizabeth Keathley wrote a piece issued by the DAM Foundation to help identify a DAM system. The post, What is a DAM? The 10 Characteristics of a Digital Asset Management System, looks to clarify what DAM systems are and are not. Later, the DAM Foundation came out with a revised list, The Ten Characteristics of a DAM system. This list echoes many of the earlier characteristics of a DAM system to help true DAM vendors show core competence in DAM. It also helps those looking at DAM vendors to build their DAM strategy.

We’ve taken the revised list from The Ten Characteristics of a DAM system post and responded with how the Widen Collective meets the 10 characteristics.

1) DAM systems ingest assets individually or in mass sets and allow for the manipulation of those assets and their metadata individually or with mass actions.

The Widen Collective can ingest assets individually or in batch sets. Metadata can be added and edited individually or with mass actions. For efficient ingesting of assets and metadata, use upload profiles. Upload profiles apply default metadata, categorization and security parameters for individual or mass sets of assets.


2) DAM systems secure assets they contain. Security in a DAM system extends to defining access control lists for assets and defining roles for users accessing the system.

DAM system security starts with reliable, secure storage. Widen uses Amazon S3 and other Amazon Web Services to ensure assets are in a client’s full control – at rest and in transit.

With the proper infrastructure, clients can focus on governance for features and assets. The governance should have the capacity to mirror the organizational chart – one (or more) individuals in the global administrator role, then sub-administrators below global administrators with control over certain business units, divisions, initiatives, etc., then sub-admins below them and so on. Not all DAM systems are able to take advantage of this flexibility in governance, but Widen believes it has to be there.


3) DAM systems store assets as both binaries and metadata. DAM systems can store multiple file types and allow for the customization of metadata fields and the metadata in those fields attached to the stored files.

Any file type may be uploaded to and downloaded from the Widen Collective. Virtually all image file types are convertible to different formats, resolutions, dimensions and color spaces. Video and audio files are convertible to different formats, dimension and bitrates. The link provides a full list of convertible file types.

Metadata is a key component of DAM. It facilitates the ability to easily search for and find assets. Metadata fields are customizable and can take form of the following: 

  • Single line text field
  • Multi-line text area
  • Dropdown fields for single selection
  • Checkboxes for multiple selections
  • Multi-select palette fields for large lists and multiple selections
  • Date and numeric fields, which can be set as filters

Metadata in those fields is customizable and available for export with the file. Furthermore, with the Widen Collective, administrators can set up any number of different metadata types (schemas) with any number of fields to capture relevant information in order to obtain the best possible search results.

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4) DAM systems render/transform assets on ingest into new forms, such as thumbnails or proxy files. The new forms generated on asset ingest via transformation should all be stored as asset parts of the original file uploaded.

The Widen Collective provides thumbnails and full previews. A master file is uploaded to the system with no need to store multiple versions or formats. This is for ease of management and to save clients storage. Format conversions are performed on the fly to provide users with the file they need in the format they can use, saving them time and effort upon download.

When a file is uploaded to the Widen Collective, proxy files of different sizes are generated, all related to the master asset's current version. Some of these are grabbed for links and embed codes, for web CMS integration or for sharing.


5) DAM systems enrich assets through the extension of metadata and metrics regarding the use and reuse of the asset throughout its lifecycle.

Metadata in the Widen Collective is customizable and controllable. A strong metadata structure extends the use and reuse of the asset throughout its lifecycle.

Asset history and versioning provide tracking of the asset throughout its lifecycle. Changes to the asset and its metadata are tracked. Analytics helps track asset count, orders, views, shares and more. Asset popularity and ratings provide further insight into which assets are being used the most and which assets are top quality.


6) DAM systems relate assets by tracking the relationships between and among an original asset and versions/variants of the original. Versioning and version control tools are central to an asset’s life in a DAM system.

Widen Collective version control is associated with the asset filename, and includes version review workflows as well as permissioned access to prior versions and version updates.


7) DAM systems regulate a structured process in the management, creation and review of assets with workflow tools. Via programmed workflows, DAM systems allow for a decentralized workforce to collaborate together in a centralized system.

DAM plays a critical role in the asset lifecycle. The Widen Collective has a number of built-in workflows to facilitate the management creation, and review of assets. Widen Workflow is an add-on that gives visibility and insight into the journey your creative concepts go through as they become distributable assets living in the Widen Collective. Integrations with upstream workflow tools, such as AtTask and ProofHQ, are also available. 

As a cloud solution with a mobile application, the Widen Collective truly enables a decentralized workforce to collaborate together in a centralized system. 


8) DAM systems allow for users to find assets and to retrieve those assets by facilitating search through metadata, collections, workflows and access control tools. By increasing the discovery of assets that may not have been easily accessible before ingest, a DAM system assists workers in leveraging existing content for maximum work potential.

We offer different types of search for different types of people.

  • Spotlight Search
  • Faceted Search
  • Predictive Search
  • Search by Category
  • Suggested Search
  • Document Text Search

Widen Collective is able to quickly re-index multi-million asset databases with associated taxonomies in minutes, not hours, with technologies like Elasticsearch. Site availability and responsiveness is a Widen Collective mandate.


9) DAM systems have a preview function that allows users to view assets before downloading or opening a file on their device. By allowing users to review assets quickly in search, without downloading them, DAM systems reduce the amount of time users must spend in search.

The Widen Collective automatically generates full previews for many supported file types upon upload. An alternate preview file can be uploaded and displayed for unsupported preview file types.

In addition to searching for, sending, and downloading assets in the DAM system, users may create and share stylized collections for assets that can be previewed and downloaded by external users.


10) DAM systems produce/publish content by providing methods whereby assets may be shared, linked to or otherwise be distributed outside the system. This DAM function may be as simple as generating a URL on ingest or as complex as allowing users to build collections of items for sharing with a work group.

Users of the Widen Collective can produce and publish content via multiple channels. Assets may be downloaded or sent to others for use. Deep links to content and collections enable users to share URLs. Users can grab a link for an asset to share with others or embed an image, PDF or video into a webpage. As mentioned above, stylized collections (and portals coming soon) can be created to share content in a more visually branded way. Portals are coming soon and will offer password protection, custom branding, and easy sharing. 


In short, Widen delivers configurable, scalable and cost-effective DAM solutions to help you easily store, search and share your digital content. Organizations of all sizes use Widen's SaaS DAM solution, the Widen Collective, to streamline their marketing and creative workflows and make their content work harder. Widen is trusted by hundreds of thousands of users around the world. Our approach is to listen, learn and engage with you every step of the way, then help move you towards a decision about DAM.

Learn more about the Widen Collective features today.


Topics: Content, Product Updates, Marketing

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