The management of digital assets is an increasingly important process that is becoming more and more essential in the business environment. Whereas digital asset management (DAM) was historically associated with the tracking of images and video, today, it covers a vast array of electronic files. Including presentations, podcasts, spreadsheets, analytics data, NFTs, and cryptocurrency.
The evolution of electronic files has been quick and constant. Meaning that asset management solutions have had to keep up with these changes. DAM is important for several reasons, the key factors being security and accessibility. But what is the best way to manage your most critical electronic files and ensure they’re kept safe and visible?
In this article, we’ll explore what digital files make up your business assets. As well as how best to manage them. And why it’s important to have the right IT asset management tools in place.
Why It’s Important to Manage Your Digital Assets
Digital assets have stark similarities to their physical counterparts, particularly when it comes to management. They must be stored, organised, managed, and distributed in the most effective way possible. By doing so, only then can they and your operations reach their maximum potential.
There are many different paths that businesses take to manage their assets. These range from spreadsheets, to whiteboards, to pen-and-paper, to software. The latter being the most proficient in terms of overall efficiency.
No matter how you choose to manage your digital assets, the benefits are the same:
- Increase visibility
- Improve inventory management
- Allow for ease of use and accessibility
- Provide greater security
Without effective digital asset management protocols, there are several challenges you are likely to encounter. Without the security and encryption features of an ITAM or DAM solution, files can become corrupted and exploited. Documents can also be accessed and shared by the wrong users if they’re not properly tracked.
By closely monitoring your digital assets, you can analyse and track the lifecycle of each file. A lifecycle refers to an asset’s journey from creation to expiration, which can be broken down into four stages:
This is when a concept is brought to fruition resulting in a design, drawing, written document, photograph, or video. It may also be an action, such as scanning a paper document.
Once created and recorded with a unique identifier, managing an asset can begin. This includes the approval of a design or document, minor adjustments, or further updates.
This stage involves the distribution of a digital asset to employees or the general public. Consider the government’s coronavirus messaging campaign in 2020. This involved countless digital assets, ranging from social media graphics, video addresses, and informative articles. Each asset would have first been sent to various teams for publishing.
Then comes the point where a digital asset reaches the end of its life. This is the time when an asset is no longer relevant and therefore becomes outdated. Having a proper process in place for dealing with obsolete digital assets is crucial.
What Are Digital Assets In Your Business?
Digital assets are electronic files used for a variety of different purposes in business activities. They’re either owned by an individual or a company, they provide a valuable resource to an operation, and they’re discoverable via metadata.
Digital assets are accessed daily by employees, shared between devices, and purchased by consumers. They include:
- Social media graphics
- CAD drawings
They can even be used for financial exchange, with digital assets being used as currency since bitcoin’s beginnings in 2009.
Today, digital assets make up the core of most business operations. 74% of marketing operations already rely on the use of their electronic files. While a 2021 Deloitte survey suggested digital assets will be very or somewhat important to their industries in the coming years.
Every company has electronic files, and ownership of them can be spread across different departments. For instance, a marketing department is usually responsible for the creation and management of promotional and branded media. In contrast, an HR department would typically look after employee documents and training guides.
The acceleration in the use of digital assets has helped catapult the value of the DAM market. Its market value was estimated at $113.2 million in the UK in 2015. Since then it has grown exponentially, with the global market of cryptocurrency being worth $2 trillion alone (August 2021).
The Benefits and Risks of Using Digital Assets
The use of digital assets can have several benefits for your business. They’re quick to access, easy to discover, and can be shared with multiple users at the click of a button.
Using digital assets also helps to save on costs and improve time management. Less space is needed for storage, unlike physical assets, and less time is wasted tracking down assets, particularly if they’re searchable on a database with detailed metadata.
However, owning digital assets can pose challenges too. One of which is dealing with security threats. Without the right network security and management solution, your digital assets will be at risk from hackers and data breaches. This means sensitive documents, financial information, and user data could end up in the wrong hands.
Using ITAM to Manage Your Digital Assets
Depending on your budget and size, there are different ways to manage digital assets. Away from more manual protocols, there is IT Asset Management (ITAM) Software.
ITAM Software empowers businesses to bring together inventory, financial, contractual, and risk management. This supports strategic decision-making and asset lifecycle management. Ensuring that all IT assets, digital ones included, fit your operating needs.
Here’re three main features you’ll come across in a robust ITAM tool and how they can work to support digital asset management:
1. Registering Each Digital Asset
Each asset is assigned a unique identifier upon creation in a digital database. This helps to avoid duplications and makes each asset searchable for users. Meaning users spend less time searching for content and more time being productive.
Within an asset register, you can log all types of additional data about each asset. A register is seen as a digital storage system or database, or a blockchain when referring to cryptocurrency assets. This includes their purpose and where/how they should be used. As well as metadata, photo licensing details, and version control numbering for individual documents.
2. Access Management
This feature allows you to set up permissions and approval rights. This means only the relevant parties can upload, edit, use, and distribute them.
By assigning user permissions, you can ensure that digital assets aren’t used without authorisation, or incorrectly. When they are no longer relevant, they can be archived.
Take the franchise restaurant group, Five Guys, for example. Before finding a DAM tool, they stored branding assets in multiple locations like Dropbox, personal computers, and hard drives. When it came to sharing assets, large files had to be distributed via WeTransfer. But, a digital asset management solution allowed them to centralise their files and share them with a simple link.
3. Asset Tracking and Lifecycle Monitoring
With ITAM Software, you have greater visibility over your digital assets. You can also track their performance at each stage of their useful life. This enables different parties to identify when new content needs to be created or existing assets repurposed. You can also set expiration dates for when files should no longer be used.