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What Is a Digital Asset Manager and Why Do You Need One?

By Caroline Donadio and Janelle Poisel
In today’s digital age, businesses create a constant stream of content – images, videos, presentations, documents, and more. Managing this ever-growing library of assets can be a monumental task. Lost files, wasted time searching, and inconsistent brand messaging are just a few of the costly consequences of disorganized digital assets.
For industries like Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC), where showcasing past work is essential to attract new business, the need to preserve creative records becomes not just important, but critical for success. A comprehensive library of digital assets serves as a showcase of expertise and capabilities, allowing firms to effectively demonstrate their track record and differentiate themselves in a competitive market.
This is where a Digital Asset Manager comes in. But what exactly is a Digital Asset Manager, and why should your business invest in one?
*Note: This individual may not necessarily hold the title of ‘Digital Asset Manager.’ Similar positions might be referred to as Content Manager, Media Librarian, Metadata Specialist, Digital Archivist, Digital Asset Coordinator, or Digital Content Specialist.

Why Do You Need a Digital Asset Management System?

Before you hire a Digital Asset Manager or a similar role, it’s essential to have a Digital Asset Management (DAM) system in place. A DAM system is a software solution designed to centrally store, organize, manage, and distribute your digital assets. It acts as a digital library, allowing you to easily upload, categorize, tag, and search for your files. A DAM streamlines your workflow by providing a single source of truth for all your assets, eliminating the need to search through scattered folders and drives.
Here are just a few reasons why your business needs a DAM:
Increased Efficiency and Productivity:
Locating the right file can be a time-consuming task. A DAM eliminates this frustration by offering intuitive search functionalities. Users can find what they need quickly, freeing up valuable time to focus on core business activities.
Enhanced Brand Consistency:
A DAM helps ensure that everyone within your organization is using the latest and approved brand assets. This consistency is crucial for maintaining a professional and unified brand image across all marketing materials.
Improved Collaboration:
A DAM facilitates collaboration by providing a central platform for teams to share and access assets. This fosters communication and streamlines project workflows, especially for geographically dispersed teams.
Reduced Storage Costs:
Businesses often store redundant copies of files across various devices and locations. A DAM eliminates this redundancy by providing a centralized storage solution, potentially reducing storage costs.
Improved Security and Access Control:
DAM systems offer robust security features to protect your valuable assets from unauthorized access or accidental deletion. Granular access controls ensure that only authorized users can view, edit, or download specific files.
Streamlined Content Distribution:
Sharing assets with clients, partners, or vendors becomes effortless with a DAM. You can easily generate download links or collaborate on projects directly within the platform.
Data-Driven Insights:
Many DAM systems provide analytics that track asset usage and performance. This data can be invaluable for understanding your audience and optimizing your content strategy.
Simplified Compliance Management:
A DAM can help ensure that your digital assets comply with industry regulations or copyright laws. By keeping track of usage rights and versions, you can mitigate legal risks.

Who is the Digital Asset Manager?

While a DAM serves as the library for your digital content, a Digital Asset Manager acts as the librarian or archivist. They are the individuals responsible for overseeing and managing the system to ensure the DAM serves as a well-ordered and user-friendly tool for your entire organization. Digital Asset Managers, or those in equivalent roles (as mentioned above), typically have backgrounds in information science, library science, or digital media management. They commonly possess at least a bachelor’s degree, with a master’s degree being preferred. While continuous learning and professional development are crucial for Digital Asset Managers to stay updated on evolving technologies and best practices, they also must be proficient in digital rights management and familiar with Content Management Systems (CMS), ticketing systems, project management tools, Product Information Management (PIM), and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platforms.
In their role, the Digital Asset Manager is someone who works across departments, identifying varying opportunities for collaboration. They possess a keen understanding of the diverse needs of various stakeholders and can adapt their communication styles accordingly. Additionally, the Digital Asset Manager works to streamline workflows and actively contributes to the continuous improvement of DAM processes. They stay up to date on emerging technologies and industry trends to ensure the company remains at the vanguard of DAM best practices.

What Does a Digital Asset Manager Do?

Digital Asset Managers contribute significantly to the company’s overall business strategy through their expertise and attention to detail, fostering collaboration and innovation across departments. Daily tasks can include but are not limited to:
System Administration: Setting up and maintaining the DAM system, including integrations with other essential tools (WordPress, InDesign, etc.).
Manage User Permissions and Roles: Tailoring permissions to specific roles across different departments to ensure precise access and enhance security.
Asset Ingestion: Meticulously reviewing all incoming materials and implementing quality standards.
Metadata Management: Uploading, tagging, and categorizing digital assets clearly and coherently to ensure easy searchability.
Workflow Management: Establishing workflows for asset creation, approval, and distribution.
User Training and Support: Educating users on the DAM system’s functionalities and providing ongoing support while also creating supporting documentation (manuals, guides, policies, etc.) to serve as reference material.
Vendor Management: Overseeing relationships with DAM software vendors and other relevant service providers.
Analytics and Reporting: Analyzing DAM usage data and reporting key insights to stakeholders.
Supports Best Practices: Committed to standardization and best practices to ensure the seamless operation of the DAM, fostering smooth workflows. Engages with a broader professional community to exchange resources and establish important guidelines.

Making the Case for Hiring a Digital Asset Manager

Whether you need a dedicated DAM professional depends on the size and complexity of your organization, as well as the volume of digital assets you manage. For smaller businesses, the DAM system administrator role might be combined with marketing or IT responsibilities. However, as your organization grows and your digital asset library expands, a dedicated DAM professional can become essential for optimizing the system’s value.
Regardless of the title, a Digital Asset Manager plays a pivotal role in ensuring the effective organization, accessibility, and utilization of digital assets. Here are several compelling reasons to invest in a Digital Asset Manager:
Future-Proofing Digital Infrastructure:
As technology evolves, so do the tools and platforms we use to manage digital assets. A Digital Asset Manager stays current on emerging trends and technologies in digital asset management, ensuring that the organization’s digital infrastructure remains robust and adaptable to future needs.
Optimizing Resource Allocation:
By centralizing and organizing digital assets, a Digital Asset Manager minimizes time spent searching for assets and reduces duplication of efforts. This allows team members to focus on higher-level tasks, leading to increased productivity and cost savings.
Ensuring Compliance and Security:
Digital Asset Managers are well-versed in digital rights management and ensure that assets are used in compliance with licensing agreements and copyright laws. Additionally, they implement comprehensive security measures to safeguard sensitive digital assets from unauthorized access or misuse.
Enhancing Collaboration:
DAM systems offer robust security features to protect your valuable assets from unauthorized access or accidental deletion. Granular access controls ensure that only authorized users can view, edit, or download specific files.
Improving Brand Consistency:
Consistent branding is vital for building brand recognition and trust. A Digital Asset Manager maintains brand guidelines and ensures that all digital assets adhere to the brand’s identity, messaging, and visual standards, regardless of who accesses or utilizes them.

Hiring a Digital Asset Manager is a strategic investment that yields numerous benefits. Working with your DAM, by harnessing the expertise of a Digital Asset Manager, organizations can access the full potential of their digital assets and gain a competitive edge in the AEC world.

Getting Started with Digital Asset Management

Because budgets, resources, and organizational structure will determine your next steps, here are a few immediate actions to harness the power of digital asset management.
1 Identify Your Needs Evaluate your current content management challenges and define your goals for implementing a DAM system.
2 Research DAM Solutions Explore the various DAM software options available, considering features, pricing, and scalability.
Prepare Your Files
Begin preparing for the transition to a DAM and improved file management by organizing your current assets into items to keep vs. items to archive. Make groupings of your assets based on the tagging system you want to use moving forward (i.e. by project name, employee name, top searched assets, etc.).

Getting Started with a Digital Asset Manager

Because budgets, resources, and organizational structure will determine your next steps, here are a few immediate actions to harness the power of digital asset management.
Invest in Training: Once you’ve chosen a DAM system, provide comprehensive training for your team to ensure smooth user adoption.
Identify Your Digital Asset Manager and Implement a Phased Approach: Whether you hire a new candidate, or move an internal employee into the role, you should prioritize identifying who will create and manage the process and workflows for storing, sharing, and updating your digital assets. See below for a phased approach.
Develop a Content Strategy: Establish clear guidelines for asset creation, version control, and usage within your organization with the help of your Digital Asset Manager.
Once your digital assets are prepped and your DAM owner has been determined, you’re ready to utilize this phased approach to growing and designating the role of Digital Asset Manager (or a similar title).

Phased Approach
Individuals allocate at least 25% of their time to DAM management. They possess a basic understanding of DAM within a business context and recognize its fundamental applications. User engagement is limited, with users starting to explore core functionalities.
Individuals devote at least 50% of their time to DAM management. They comfortably apply DAM solutions to meet routine business needs and objectives. Regular training sessions and documentation facilitate user familiarity and system integration into workflows.
Digital Asset Managers are well-versed in digital rights management and ensure that assets are used in compliance with licensing agreements and copyright laws. Additionally, they implement comprehensive security measures to safeguard sensitive digital assets from unauthorized access or misuse.

By implementing a Digital Asset Management system and potentially employing a dedicated DAM professional, you can unlock the full potential of your digital content. A DAM streamlines workflows, fosters collaboration, and empowers your team to work smarter, not harder. As your business grows, a well-managed digital asset library becomes a strategic advantage, ensuring you have the right content at your fingertips to achieve your marketing and communication goals.
Caroline Donadio, Digital Asset Manager, Perkins Eastman
Caroline is a highly organized Digital Asset Manager and Archivist with over ten years of experience in managing digital assets and processing archival collections. She is currently leading the strategy, implementation, and workflow of the Digital Asset Management system across 24 offices at Perkins Eastman, a global architecture and design firm. Caroline excels in project management and maintaining project assets while also serving as a collaborative communicator with experience liaising between design teams and external entities, such as museums, corporations, universities, and local organizations. She holds a Master of Library and Information Science from Long Island University and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Rochester.
Janelle Poisel, Director of Content, OpenAsset With over 10 years of content management experience, Janelle has a proven track record of crafting compelling narratives and delivering content that resonates with B2B audiences. She is dedicated to helping teams learn how to meet their audience with the right content, at the right place, and at the right time as they navigate their unique customer journeys. As Director of Content, Janelle oversees a talented team of content creators and strategists, working collaboratively to ensure that OpenAsset's content remains fresh, relevant, and impactful for the AEC audience.