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Blog about Digital Asset Management

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What is the life cycle of DAM assets?

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?



What does a Digital Asset Manager need to know?

After reading one of my most popular blog posts, a few readers have asked “What does a Digital Asset Manager need to know?”
This is assuming an organization realizes why a Digital Asset Manager is needed who is skilled and experienced in the field.
That said, they will need to know how to work with the following:


  • Be helpful. You should there to help the people, the process, the technology and the information work together. No small feat in many cases nor a temporary effort.
  • Be resourceful.
  • Be honest. Brutally honest if needed. Do not hold back much. The truth may require revealing news people do not want to hear, but rather need to hear (if you have read my blog or know me well enough, you will know what I mean).
  • Be patient. Not everyone will be technical nor understand what is involved.
  • Listen. To your users. All of them. Not just to yourself talking and repeating yourself.
  • Be specific. Do not assume people know, even the obvious. Remember, not everyone is technical.
  • Explain issues and their solutions to the people who need to know about it in their perspective. Keep in mind who your audience isUse visuals to explain as needed. Document how to resolve issues often, then share this documentation openly and often. Repeat.
  • Simplify. Do not overcomplicate unless you like confusion, fixing errors and having delays.
  • Be an agent of change. Change, not because it is shiny/new/cool, but needed for increased effectiveness and efficiency across the organization.
  • Know who is responsible for what. If you are not in charge of something, who is? If no one is in charge, take charge. “Initiative isn’t given, you take it”…along with responsibility.
  • Speak up. Interject as needed. Do not ‘wait your turn’ or your points will be overlooked. Leave your emotions elsewhere. This is business.
  • Be accountable and hold others accountable for their actions (or lack thereof) when it comes to the DAM and everything else in your purview. It is a ‘two-way street’ whether we realize it or not. Top to bottom and back.
  • Be proactive as well as reactive as needed. You should not be ‘fire fighting’ issues all day, every day (otherwise, there is a prioritization and process issue).
  • How and when to say “No.” Contrary to some people’s belief, ‘yes men‘ can hurt the organization as well as themselves especially if a constant “yes” is believed to always be the right answer. It is not. Reality checks are necessary for all.
  • Do not kill yourself, physically nor mentally. Nor anyone else for that matter. Even if it starts to sound really tempting. Really.


  • There is at least one process, right? And it is followed?
  • How do DAM users interact with the Digital Asset Management process and system?
  • Help establish a process, test the process in the real world, document the process in writing and train users on the process/workflow as needed (especially when lacking). Work one-on-one or with small groups. Why? Large groups and committees are like large ships…they are harder to steer in any direction and slower to start, stop or react in general. Don’t believe me? Try it. Find out yourself.
  • How does metadata entry occur from sources (owned internally and/or externally) to normalization of the data to entry into the DAM. Then, track the process all the way through to use within system to yield the requested search results.
  • Manage by assigning, measuring and prioritizing daily. Of what you ask?
    • Assets
    • Accuracy of metadata entries and usage
    • Error rates
    • Performance of systems and users
    • Tasks
    • Users
    • There is plenty more to assign, measure and prioritize…
  • Establish a process of user adoption from the beginning of the selection process of a DAM system to the integration of other systems to the regular operations of the solution. What are you doing to encourage your users?
  • How to make coffee (or tea) without spilling it nor burning yourself. (Like most things, carefully.)


  • Digital Asset Management solution within your organization
  • Metadata validation and when applicable, metadata automation
  • How to use and apply the LAMP solution stack (in case you thought there was nothing else to learn to improve your skills)


  • Love information and data. Really. It may not love you back, but it is a give and take relationship. You get what you put into it, along with compounding value over time. Of course, I am talking about metadata. You should be one of the information experts within your organization.
  • Know what is available (and what is not), where it lives, how to get to it, how report on it, how to filter it and analyze it.Explain it. Train people on how to take ownership of it in their role, how to complete their part (metadata), the value of this information and why.
  • Know the difference between data, information and knowledge.
  • If you want a baseline to know how mature your DAM solution is now within your organization, start studying the DAM Maturity Model (DAM3), which was based on ECM3 as it continues to mature. Using DAM3, you can plot how mature your DAM solution is within organization today as well as where it could improve.

I write this as I leave my position where I was Digital Asset Manager for over 5 years. I have accepted another position as a Digital Asset Management professional in a different capacity to assist other organizations with DAM.

If you need vendor neutral assistance or advice on Digital Asset Management, let me know.

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What is a DAMMY award?

Based off the idea of DAM Awards, Createasphere is calling all Digital Asset Management Innovators for their first annual DAMMY Awards.

“If you or your organization has broken new ground in managing digital and media assets, it’s time to stand up and be recognized! Createasphere is excited to announce the first annual DAMMY Awards, recognizing innovators who have created new revenue opportunities, efficient workflows, exceptional storage and archive solutions, and more. An outstanding individual or organization will also be named DAMMY of the Year for positively impacting the success of digital asset management for the good of the global community.
But don’t wait for the August 20th entry deadline- submit your project or solution today and be acknowledged for your hard work in front of your community of peers. Winners will be recognized at a special awards ceremony luncheon at the Digital Asset Management Conference and Expo, September 24 in New York.”

The categories include:

  • DAMMY of the Year
  • Best Storage, Archive, and or Preservation Solution
  • Best Strategy or Solution for Digital & Media Asset Management during the Acquisition of Content
  • Best Example of Asset & Media Repurposing

Submit all entries and nominations between July 6, 2010 and August 20, 2010

Do you know someone who qualifies for a DAMMY? Well then what are you waiting for?