Editor's note: This post was updated on December 12, 2017.
In 2014, Elizabeth Keathley wrote a piece issued by the DAM Foundation to help buyers identify a DAM system. The post looked 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, which echoes many of the earlier characteristics of a system to help true DAM vendors show core competence in DAM. It also helps those looking at vendors to build their DAM strategy.
“25 percent of vendors calling themselves DAM systems have actually failed the 10 core standard test.” - Mark Davey, Founder, The Codified DAM Consultant™
We’re proud to share that Widen is an accredited vendor with 10 Core Certification, and we’ve recently won the Codified DAM Consultants vendor of the year award for 2017.
An understanding of the core characteristics of a DAM system will help you select a DAM vendor and build your DAM strategy, so we want to share 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 Collective can ingest assets individually or in batch sets. Metadata can be added and edited individually or with batch actions. For efficient ingesting of assets and metadata, use upload profiles. Upload profiles apply default metadata, categories, and security parameters for individual or a batch of assets.
2) DAM systems secure assets they contain. Security extends to defining access control lists for assets and defining roles for users who are accessing the system.
DAM system security starts with reliable, secure storage. Widen uses Amazon S3 and other Amazon Web Services to ensure you’re in full control of your assets — at rest and in transit.
With the proper infrastructure, you can focus on governance for features and assets. Governance should mirror your organizational chart, with 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 we believe it has to be there.
3) DAM systems store assets as both binaries and metadata. Systems can store multiple file types and allow for the customization of metadata fields and the metadata in those fields that’s attached to the stored files.
Any file type can be uploaded to and downloaded from the 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, dimensions, and bitrates.
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 the form of:
- Single line text fields
- Multi-line text areas
- 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 files. Furthermore, with the Collective, you can set up any number of different metadata types (schemas) with any number of fields to capture relevant information so that users get the best possible search results.
4) DAM systems render/transform assets on ingest into new forms, such as thumbnails or proxy files. The new forms created on asset ingest via transformation should all be stored as part of the original file that was uploaded.
Thumbnails and full previews are provided in the Collective. 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 money on 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 when downloading.
Assets can be cropped to exact pixel dimensions, then the cropped view can be immediately downloaded or a share link or embed code can be created.
When a file is uploaded to the Collective, proxy files of different sizes are created that are all related to the master asset's current version. Some of these are grabbed for links and embed codes, for a web CMS integration, or for sharing.
5) DAM systems enrich assets through the extension of metadata and metrics regarding the use and reuse of assets throughout their lifecycle.
Metadata in the Collective is customizable and controllable. A strong metadata structure extends the use and reuse of assets throughout their lifecycle.
Asset history and versioning provide tracking of assets. Changes to assets and metadata are tracked. Analytics via the Insights app helps track asset count, orders, views, shares, and more. Asset engagement 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 original assets and versions/variants of the original. Versioning and version control tools are central to an asset’s life in a DAM system.
Version control in the Collective 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 Collective has a number of built-in workflows to facilitate the management, creation, and review of assets. Widen Workflow is an online proofing and work-in-process management tool. It gives visibility and insight into the journey your creative concepts go through as they become distributable assets living in the Collective.
Integrations with upstream workflow tools, such as Workfront, are also available.
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 searches for different types of people.
- Spotlight searches
- Faceted searches
- Predictive searches
- Searches by category
- Suggested searches
- Document text searches
The 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 Collective mandate.
9) DAM systems have a preview function that allows users to view assets before downloading or opening files 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 searching.
The Collective automatically generates full previews for many supported file types upon upload. Alternate preview files can be uploaded and displayed for unsupported preview file types.
In addition to searching for, sending, and downloading assets in the DAM system, users can create and share portals 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 to share with a workgroup.
Users of the Collective can produce and publish content via multiple channels. Assets can be downloaded or sent to others for use. Deep links to content and collections enable users to share URLs. They can grab a link for an asset to share with others or embed an image, PDF, or video into a web page. As mentioned above, Portals can be created to share content in a more visually branded way. Portals 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.