Another DAM Blog

Blog about Digital Asset Management

Leave a comment

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?


1 Comment

Why should we keep our assets in a DAM?

Some people actually ask themselves this question and wonder why they can’t go back to their old ways of doing business.

Sure, you can. You can also do the following…

  • We can find all my final assets really easily because I have them all right here on my desktop.”

We have:

  • Final1
  • Final02
  • FinalFinal
  • FinalFinalFinal
  • ReallyFinal
  • LastFinal
  • Extrafinal
  • Superfinal
  • SuperduperFinal
  • ExtraLargeFinal
  • Final_with_cheese
  • AlmostFinished_really_Iswear

Ok. I might have a little problem with version control and file naming conventions.

Yes, a DAM can have version control to take care of this little problem a few of us might have.

  • We store all our files on our own desktops.”

desktop is just another silo. Who else can see your assets on your desktop? Can you find all your assets on your own desktop? What happens to these assets when you lose your laptop or get a new computer?

  • We can keep all our assets on shared drives.” Yeah, those are so searchable, right? As long as your perfectly crafted file names say everything about every asset you’ll ever need to know. Oh, wait. Shared drives are not truly searchable to the asset level beyond a so-called unique filename.
  • We have unique file names for every asset.” File names are created by humans and meant for humans outside of a DAM. Many DAM systems do not care what your file names are as long as they are not 250 characters long, filled with spaces and special characters. Scary sounding, huh? Some organizations prior to having a DAM have some of these “unique file names“. You know who you are. Some DAM solutions assign unique identifiers to each and every asset uploaded/imported to the DAM and these make file names into metadata for the DAM.
  • We can keep assets on CDs or external drives so we can share them easily.” You must like burning money if you are still using CDs or DVDs today. Where is the latest version? Which CD is that on again? Or do you need to burn another set of CDs for the latest version of assets? External drives (regardless of how big or small) can get lost, dropped or corrupt very easily. External drives have the same version control issue as CDs, even if backed-up regularly. How often is new version created by someone else? How do you ship these to external clients? That’s free, right?
  • I will just email the asset around to everyone.” Are you planning to fill up every one of those people’s email inbox with high volumes of data? And each one will back up that data multiplied by how many people? What is the file size limitations for your email attachments? 5MB? 10 MB? Some email accounts do not even accept attachments, in fear of viruses. Will you continue to email this asset for each person who needs to see this each time they need to see this asset? Will you repeat this every time they need to see an asset again? Wow, that is a lot of email data repeated over and over again, isn’t it? With a DAM, you could simply send a link to the asset (not email the whole asset) to whomever needs the asset, whether they need just preview it or download the asset, based on permission set by the sender, through the DAM. Let us weigh this option again. Email attachments over and over again vs. email link to asset in DAM which can be updated as needed in DAM.
  • We’ll just FTP the assets to the person who needs it.” That is secure, right? No one else can see the FTP server nor add to the FTP server either, right? And where is the version control on a FTP server? Oops.

What have we learned so far?

  • Use a DAM for assets
  • Associate metadata to each asset in a DAM so you can search and find it again
  • Version control with a DAM
  • Distribute assets with a DAM
  • Prosper and save some money with a DAM.

Let me know if you have any other brilliant ideas on why you should not store assets in a DAM. I would love to share them with readers.