Another DAM Blog

Blog about Digital Asset Management

What is the life cycle of DAM assets?

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Digital assets have a life cycle just like plants and animals. Your organization may acquire, create or even re-purpose digital assets which are:

  • a major milestone in the organization’s history
  • historical (good or bad)
  • required by law or other regulations
  • repeatedly used or requested

What are the signs that digital asset is coming to the end of its life cycle?

Is the asset:

  • Dated (is everyone wearing bell bottoms, plaid and have long sideburns? This could be a sign unless you are covering 1970 revivals)
  • Too generic? Or is it too specific to be of interest to your audience?
  • Antiquated (do you hear dinosaurs roaming or modems dialing for a connection? Or is an abacus the most advanced technology available?)
  • Not downloaded/ordered/requested/used in the past 5 years. (A DAM solution should be able to report the number of times an asset has been downloaded/ordered/requested/used. This is a major indicator.)

If the case is the asset has not been downloaded/ordered/requested/used in over 5 years, it may be time to migrate the asset to an archive outside of the DAM. Or maybe just keep a proxy of the asset in the DAM along with a location/contact for the archive that has a high quality copy of the digital asset. Just keep in mind not to delete all copies of those legacy digital asset  (you know, those assets supposedly at the end of their life cycle), unless required by law or regulation.

  • How many pieces of documentation do you keep for your assets? (This would explain the history and ownership of your digital assets, sometimes known as provenance)
  • How will this content be changed over the life cycle of the asset?
  • How many people do you have accessing this information? (History of the asset as seen from the DAM reports)
  • What is the total value of your asset related projects per year? (Do you keep in mind the value of these projects and assets?)
  • How many people can you afford to have managing this documentation? (This is documented in writing by someone, right?)
  • What happens when someone uses the wrong information? (Do you like errors and inconsistency?)
  • Is any of this a matter of proper version control? (Do you really want to know how many systems fail to have this today? Too many.)

If the digital asset is needed ‘forever,’ consider what file format it is kept in, since this format may not be supported ‘forever.’  These assets may need to be converted into different (more current) file formats. Refer to Another DAM podcast interview with Linda Tadic who speaks about this as well as the time frame to revisit these things.

Consider the same with physical media storage such the evolution of audio from wax cylinders to LPs (33.3 and 45) to 8 tracks to audio tapes to CDs… now on hard drives and portable MP3 players.

How many digital assets do you actively use today?

If you wanted to archive this music, what format do we store this for high quality, everyday listening, or did we all keep all formats/players? Not likely. While some purist may continue to play these antique tools of the past purely for nostalgic reasons, most of these formats do not keep these physically degrading/fading media formats. Instead, we keep the highest quality digital copy of important audio we need to keep. The ones of value. The digital asset.

Consider the same with the evolution of photography:

In less than 200 years, photography went from wet plates to large format to medium format to 35 mm celluloid film then to eventually digital capture. Digital camera sales have surpassed film camera sales for several years now. Some companies are re-purposing their photography infrastructure for something the market actually wants to buy today. Most photographers want to see their images now. Sometimes, even their subjects want to see their image now as well.

When it came to film photography, the photographer often used to hand off the (analog) film for processing and printing to a lab. With digital photography, the photographer often is the lab as well.

Like most digital assets…

We want them now. We may even need them now. For the projects at hand. For the time being.

Our attention span and patience for finite search results (to find the right asset) are constantly getting shorter. We are spoiled thanks to really good search engines and more importantly, their search results. Be sure your digital assets are not just searchable, but found when needed. If these assets can not be found in a DAM, their life cycle is quite limited. Be aware of how to find these digital assets again.

If you need vendor neutral assistance or advice on digital asset life cycles, let us know.

What is the life cycle of your digital assets?


Author: Henrik de Gyor

Consultant. Mentor. Podcaster. Writer.

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