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What’s the Cost of Not Implementing a Digital Asset Management Solution?

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Digital Asset Management solutions enable photographers, marketers, advertisers and other content creators to centralize, find and repurpose their digital media files.  Vendors like Widen and industry analysts can point to a number of tools to help customers gauge a ROI figure for digital asset management programs with these concepts in mind.  I often point customers to a tool found at www.digitalassetmanagement.com.  Coming up with a figure can be tricky but it’s almost always based on the amount of resources it takes for a single user to find, download and do something with a file.  These concepts and this line of thinking is paramount to judging if a DAM solution is right for your needs, what type of solution to go with and what vendor you should choose.  I wouldn’t argue otherwise, but I will say that in many cases customers forget that WHO has access to your material and even WHEN they have access to it, might be more important when judging the value and ROI of your DAM system.
I have spoken with a number of customers over the years that began evaluating DAM systems or decided to switch vendors mid-stream because of some unfortunate incident when someone had access to, or was using a file they weren’t supposed to.  This might have been something innocent like a sales rep using the wrong presentation template or something catastrophic like finding one of your images posted on Yahoo! or seeing an unreleased product shot floating around on blog sites.  A key thing to consider when looking at a DAM system is how it manages access to your content. 

  • Can you create the appropriate levels of access into the system?
  • Can you manage when users should have access to content and when those rights should expire? 
  • Can you track who is using what and when? 
  • Can you warn users about the appropriate use for a file?

It is these kinds of questions that will help you understand that there most certainly is a cost for not implementing a DAM system.  This week I saw three different articles involving people suing companies and other people over how they were using images found on the web.  One article described an image found on Flickr that made its way into a company’s advertising materials and another involved the rights to a Barack Obama image.  In both cases, lawsuits were in the millions of dollars.  

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