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What is a DAM system?

Kelsey Duffield

By Kelsey Duffield



A Data Asset Management System is your one-stop shop system or process for collecting, organizing, storing, and accessing digital files and information.

If you work in retail, chances are you've worked with images. Whether it's creating product pages, social posts, or pitch decks, you've likely run into a situation where you need an image and either

  1. not been able to locate it
  2. not known if you have permission to use it or
  3. used a print version on a web page or vice versa

What if I told you there was a piece of technology designed to manage all of this for you? Something that could organize images and tag them, including permissions, file sizes, and everything you need to know so that you could quickly and easily find the digital assets you need when you need them. A Data Asset Management System (DAM) can save time (so you're not always looking for the assets you need) and ensure each image has the appropriate data included (i.e. licensing so you don't use an image you don't have permission to use), and help you keep your brand assets current. Sound too good to be true? It's not. Here's how a DAM works. 

What is a DAM? 

A Data Asset Management System is your one-stop shop system or process for collecting, organizing, storing, and accessing digital files and information. Virtually any company could use a DAM, yet it is best used for those with significant amounts of products, stock-keeping units (SKUs), and other digital assets such as images. Elements like your company logo are used in thousands of places including in letters to employees, in ads to customers, and in presentations to potential partners. Managing this, along with many other files, can have many adverse effects, like wasting time looking for assets, creating re-work because the wrong image or assets were used, or not using assets you've paid for.

As your company grows and scales, self-managed methods will no longer suffice, as they make it harder to update and support over the long term. The Google Drive you've been using just isn't scalable. DAMs are used in conjunction with Product Information Management (PIM) systems as the two pull information from one another automatically.

In the article “How PIM and DAM Unlock True Scalability for Retail,” Plytix explains,“The purpose of a DAM system is to ensure your branding and promotional efforts are congruent, organized, and available for your whole team to work with." By eliminating excess waste, your company can create a structured place to store digital assets.

A DAM is your one-stop shop for improving discoverability, optimization, updates, and holding your digitized assets.

How does it work?

A DAM is your one-stop shop for improving discoverability, optimization, updates, and holding your digitized assets. When a beaver creates a dam, they collect resources, including surrounding trees and branches for structure, grass, rocks, mud, and more, that contribute to the effectiveness of the dam as a whole. This provides a safe space away from predators and a habitat to relax and play with their family. Your company's DAM can protect your digital assets and provide you with exciting data analytics. But, just like a Beaver carefully engineering its home, you'll have to intentionally place each piece of information to create a secure, manageable resource that will help your team easily find what they need when they need it.

Fortunately, DAM systems have many automatic features to support you through this process and help you retrieve and organize required elements rather than requiring you to build your system repeatedly.

How do people currently solve the problem?

Some baseline examples of minimal viable product (MVP) DAMs may include Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, or Box. While these may work for beginning companies, these platforms lack many helpful features, including structured metadata or image tagging. Metadata is useful when identifying product taxonomy — something crucial for the success of your DAM. It will also give credit to those who assisted in the creation of the photo, such as the photographer, stylist, editors, and other behind the scene workers.

By storing data assets in an official DAM system, finding assets is much more manageable, accessible, and efficient as it becomes your one-stop shop providing self-service to you, your staff, and your partners!

What value does it add?

One of the greatest added values of a DAM is that it allows employees to spend less time on mundane repeatable tasks in order to focus on providing real value to customers. Yet, many other features make this system worthwhile and will provide you with a great return on your investment! Here are some key features that we think you and your team will appreciate:

  • Cloud-based platform
  • Having a centralized location for the tens of thousands of images your company may use is a great way to manage, log, and ensure your copies are up to date.
  • Accessibility Preferences
  • While working with various contractors or partners, there may be certain ispecificou would prefer to limit access to. Access control features allow you to share as many or a few folders, files, and other assets with whomever you allow access to. This provides you with crucial data security and control.
  • Integrate with leading stock providers such as Adobe and Getty
  •  A drag-and-drop interface feature is efficient and effective when you need a particular image
  • Clear brand image across your company
  • Your marketing team establishes creative work for your company, including specific logos, typography, fonts, colors, and more, to provide a coherent brand. A DAM creates a space for these to be easily found and implemented.
  • Clear communication
  • A DAM can notify you if you no longer have access to a particular image's usage rights. You then are able to go into analog history and identify who used this image, when, and on what sites. This saves an extensive amount of time, and you can rest assured knowing nothing is falling through the cracks.
  • Metadata and image tagging
  • As you plan for future marketing campaigns and other business processes requiring images, you can find pictures based on metadata that effectively describes what you are looking for. 

Who offers DAMs?

There are many DAM companies with varying features, and some businesses have to try multiple out before they find the right fit for them. For mid-market retailers, we highly recommend:

These DAMs offer fairly straightforward platforms with an extensive range of useful features at fair prices. We recently spoke to President and CEO at Pickit, David Scult to learn more about DAMs and the key features offered by Pickit. After implementing metadata and image tagging, Pickit allows users to view insights on how well the images did and how effectively they have been tagged. Based on the usage of people searching with your chosen metadata descriptions, a color-coded word cloud is generated to offer an in-depth analysis of effectiveness. This generates a thoughtful way to visually explain your employees' searches and recognize if your DAM is satisfying the requests.

What now?

If you are still unsure about your options or how a DAM may be right for your company, please do not hesitate to reach out. And if you need other tech advice, we're also happy to connect!