What's the difference? Enterprise DAM vs. Single User Apps

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Two weeks ago, I was one of the presenters at the $5 Friday seminar hosted by C2 Graphic Productivity Solutions in Milwaukee titled Life Cycle of a Digital Asset. C2, the only Wisconsin-based Adobe Authorized Training Center, hosts the $5 seminars once a month for those interested in learning more about current topics in the world of graphic design and creative.  The topic of the seminar – Lifecycle of a Digital Asset – was a learning session about how Digital Asset Management (DAM) software helps design, creative, and marketing communications people “find all their stuff.”  

My co-presenter, Jim Conway, a photographer and C2 instructor with years of experience managing a digital imaging center, discussed some of the fundamentals of file management and showcased Adobe Bridge & Lightroom software and other single-user management solutions.  He talked about how metadata is used and why it is useful to help you catalog, manage and find files using Adobe XMP metadata.

My presentation focused on the advantages of web-based, enterprise-level digital asset management systems over the single-user applications for larger workgroups, enterprises and organizations with a distributed user base. 

Advantages of enterprise-level digital asset management software solutions (as we see it) include:

Internet Accessibility – With whenever - wherever access, web-based DAM systems allow marketing and sales channels to find and retrieve exactly what is needed in the hustle and bustle of a highly competitive sales environment. 
On-the-fly File Conversions – With the power to store one, yet deliver many files via on-demand conversions allows organizations to maintain only one master hi-resolution or hi-definition asset and not have to mess with an infinite number of multiple file formats of multiple assets.

Distribution & Fulfillment – Emailing large files straps I.T. resources and sending CDs doesn’t allow you to react to last second demands for tight deadlines and deal closing meetings.  Upon placing an asset order to another person, Widen web-based DAM sends an automatic email containing a link to download the assets in the format(s) requested.  If you need a CD library of images or video on DVD, Widen will handle it for you and ship it overnight without tying up your staff. 

Security and Access Control – Need to keep user groups apart so only certain users have access to specific sets of assets or features…you won’t find that with single-user asset management systems.  Cases include granting your ad agency access to upload assets, while granting salespeople basic access to view and order materials they need.  Or in the case of many of our clients, you may have products branded for your separate dealers in which you need to keep their assets separate as well.  Motorola wouldn’t want Verizon Wireless to have access to Sprint branded image assets and vice-versa.  You see the reasons…

Administration & Management – Enterprise / web-based asset management systems have a tremendous amount of configurability and scalability to accommodate growth and expansion, which often comes with high-levels of administration and management functionality.  There are often multiple tiers of administrators and user groups having separate roles, responsibilities and levels of interaction with the system’s features and assets. 

Reporting & Measurement – What good are your assets if they can’t be found, retrieved and used?  … That’s why you implement a digital asset management system.  But how great would it be if you could quickly and easily know who, what, where, when and why your assets are used?  Enterprise / web-based digital asset management systems are more than just a means of organizing and distributing assets, they are a marketing tool for intelligence, strategy and budgeting purposes. 

SaaS Infrastructure / Support – Like most software, you have choices… two in fact – installed or hosted a.k.a. Software as a Service (SaaS).  With the former, it’s up to your I.T. department to handle the implementation, maintenance, upgrades, training, security, support, trouble-shooting, customization, etc. along with their list of other projects supporting critical business operations.  With the latter, the service provider handles all of that for you … and if you pick ‘em right – they’ll put marketing, creative and sales at the top of the priority list. 

Integrations and Other Applications – Does the software provider offer other technologies than DAM related to the digital media lifecycle – upstream to support the creation and workflow or downstream to support the distribution and publishing of assets?  That’s another thing to look at when considering an asset management system.  On top of that, do they play nice with others?  Integration and the ability to share information (assets and metadata) with other systems supporting critical business functions is key to selecting a system that can continue to grow with an organization. 

Widen On-Demand Suite of Digital Asset Management solutions

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