Overcoming Digital Asset Management Challenges

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CMSWire recently posted an interesting poll about Digital Asset Management. For those commissioning DAM projects, “What is your biggest Digital Asset Management challenge?”

The answer options to the poll question include:

  • Taxonomy/Metadata development
  • Selecting a vendor or product
  • Building the business case or defining ROI
  • The usability of the system
  • User adoption of the system

A comment to the poll provides a good summary of the poll results after 2 days of data collection… “Usability of the system, User adoption of the system, and Taxonomy/Metadata development fall out as 1, 2 and 3…”

This poll couldn’t be more timely as two key areas for DAM development and enhancement in 2010 at Widen are Usability (UI) and Analytics.


What's Your Biggest Digital Asset Management Challenge?
 Poll Results After 2 Days. Participate in the poll or view the results.
Are the results surprising to you? DAM systems that are not easy to use because they have clunky user interfaces or poor taxonomy/metadata development inherently have poor user adoption. What’s a clunky UI you ask? Generally speaking, over-gridded, over-cluttered, over-segmented interfaces with in an overabundance of features most users won’t use tend to be clunky. Systems with good UI design make a big difference for advancing user adoption. Solid taxonomies/metadata structures allow assets to be found easily. If a user can easily find what he or she is looking for in DAM library, then they’ll come back again. Additionally, vendors who offer training and best practices in setting up the system, counting taxonomies and metadata structures, are among the most important factors in selecting a digital asset management system.

Let’s talk “Usability”

Usability for a web based DAM system means that a user who logs in three or four times per year should know exactly what to do to find and retrieve an asset based on experiences working with other common web applications. In Widen’s world of DAM, clients generally have a few different groups of users. There are the power users or Admins who usually represent the smallest group in number but use the full features of the DAM system – ingestion through distribution. There’s typically another tier of regular users that use the DAM library with some regularity, but for more common purposes of finding and retrieving digital assets. Then, there are the hundreds or thousands of users that only login a handful of times each year. It’s that long tail of “once in awhile” users that the system should cater to in terms of ease-of-use. Other bells and whistles for more advanced users should exist, but shouldn’t over-complicate the UI, nor be too overbearing for the general purposes of the system—ingest, collaborate, manage, find, retrieve and distribute assets.

To provide a Widen customer example of user adoption, Steelcase—the global office furniture leader—had over 9,000 logins within the first two months of going live with their DAM solution. Interestingly, Widen serves five of the top 15 office furniture manufacturers. This type of user adoption drives the demand for DAM throughout the supply chain. While CMS Watch, an analyst firm who talks to DAM customers, reported that Widen has a “clean, well-designed user interface that appeals to business users,” we still recognize the magnitude of usability and opportunities for improvements in UI design.

Diving Deeper into DAM Data with “Analytics”

An Analytics application speaks directly to the business case for DAM endorsers and senior leaders who look at how DAM supports top-line revenue growth or impacts the bottom line. Digital Asset Management ROI is measured in a number of ways with hard dollar and soft dollar savings. Common buckets for measuring DAM ROI include: how DAM improves processes, how DAM reduces costs, how DAM increases revenues, how DAM adds new profit centers, and how DAM protects the brand. The time to realizing a DAM ROI is predominantly driven by two things – user adoption and subsequently asset usage and asset repurposing. Leveraging tracking, reporting and analytics tools offers more intelligence and thus greater ability to measure and prove ROI. For that reason, Widen developed four key ratios that help customers watch and evaluate adoption and success:

  • Digital Asset Activity Ratio: A comparison between the quantity of assets that have been ordered and the amount of assets stored in the DAM system. This ratio provides insight into the relationship between download activity and all the assets stored in the digital asset library.
  • Repurposing Ratio: A comparison between the active digital assets and the quantity of assets ordered. This provides insight into the amount of content repurposing that is taking place over a period of time. Repurposing continues to be a key component of digital asset management value.
  • User Activity Ratio: A comparison between the total number of logins and the quantity of users that have logged in provides information about visitation frequency. This metric also provides insight into how frequently users visit to browse or check back on new branded materials.
  • Digital Asset Consumption Ratio: Comparing the quantity of files ordered to the users that logged into the system provides information on the amount of data being consumed by each user over a specific time period.

So we’ve touched on the metrics for monitoring ROI once DAM is deployed, but how do we build the business case?

Finding It All While Saving A Bundle

If you’re unsure of the costs that come with unmanaged data, consider these factors, and then apply them to your own organization.

  • Companies spend an average of $8,200 per person per year on file management activities. These include searching, verification, organization, backup, and security.
  • Creative professionals spend an average of one out of every 10 hours of their time on file management. Their prime activity: searching.
  • The average creative person looks for a media file 83 times a week and fails to find it 35% of the time.

A digital asset management solution could help alleviate some of these costs. According to findings from GISTICS Research, a DAM solution can cut the amount of time spent on file management by more than 85%. And rather than failing to find a file 35% of the time, users will not find something only 5% of the time.


Visit the https://www.widen.com/roi for more assistance in putting together a DAM ROI.

Our thanks to all customers who continue to provide feedback and ideas for making the Widen Media Collective more valuable and enjoyable. Widen customers can expect more specific communications to come in the next few months about the User Interface (UI) enhancements and new Analytics application.

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