Few things are more frustrating than spending time and effort on redoing work that's already been completed. And yet many organizations end up doing just that because recreating a file, a Word document or even an image won't take as long as finding and distributing the asset no one can seem to locate.
But as more and more content is created and enterprises collect and store it in an ever-expanding array of types, it is becoming more critical for organizations to efficiently manage it all. This is especially true at companies where video and digital images and other types of rich media assets play an increasingly important role in marketing and other business uses across multiple channels. And it's not just about customer-facing assets. Internal training videos, corporate marketing videos and video conferencing are all expanding in popularity and importance. Digital asset management (DAM) is a rapidly growing technology area with the potential for simplifying the production, retrieval and distribution of a wide variety of rich media content.
"Most people aren't managing the content properly, and that has obvious consequences," said Anjali Yakkundi, a researcher with Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, Mass. "Content has to be refreshed across channels and regions, and it's kind of getting lost because content complexities are growing among organizations."
After the case is made: Create a list of requirements
Once upper management has accepted the business case and you've secured a C-suite sponsor for your rich media content management initiative, it's time to put a team together to create a list of software requirements a steering committee will need to pursue the best DAM product. According to Matt Leopold, former director of customer experience at TE Connectivity, the way to do this is to gather together all the parties who might use it.
Some might need to be interviewed individually "because it's personal," said Leopold, explaining someone might be keeping rich media content on a hard drive where they shouldn't. "We create a safe environment where they can share, and then pull that all together in a design session."
In the design session, have users break into groups to rank the importance of their different requirements. Mix the users up, so people from different business units are working together.
Bring them back together to make their cases for certain requirements and you'll eventually get to a point where everyone can be happy with getting to 80% of what they need and 20% of what they want.
Then prioritize the list and pass it to the steering committee. That should give the committee enough to do a software assessment and narrow the choices to three or four options.
But before a production department or marketing department can hope to deploy DAM, it has to make the business case for adopting the technology. And that business case can essentially be made by proving one or more of three key business arguments, said Beau Brewer, vice president of business development at Siteworx Inc., a consulting firm based in Reston, Va.
And which of those arguments -- or use cases -- will fit the bill, "depends on the business problem you are trying to solve," Brewer said.
Time is money; so is consistent branding
"No. 1 is the need to find digital assets so they don't have to be recreated," Brewer said, explaining that it was a common problem among media companies but was increasingly becoming a pain point at other organizations. If you can show how much production time and effort would be saved by being able to find rich media content easily, you begin to build a strong business case for DAM.
The second key to justifying DAM to the powers that be is how it streamlines the creative process. "Effective digital asset management avoids all the emails being passed back and forth," he said, and that makes for easier and more efficient communication that then becomes part of structured business workflow processes.
Third, he said, is the argument that DAM helps marketing and brand messaging. "It enables your digital presence to be kind of central in your go-to-market plans." That's a big one, too, when organizations consider all the different channels through which they communicate with customers and partners.
"DAM implementation will enable brand messaging and promotion messaging to be consistent across digital channels, across print campaigns, across television and increasingly across other offline channels," Brewer said.
Usually, one of those three cases is dominant for a company looking to get into DAM, and when it's possible to spend seven figures on an implementation, executives like to have the business case translated into dollars and cents. That, Brewer said, is possible by pointing out the number of hours that can be saved in reshooting a video, streamlining the overall creative process or consolidating the organization's brand.
Building the business case "is really about identifying the business problem," Yakkundi said. Questions to ask include: What's getting lost? What is getting remade unnecessarily? "There are a lot of rights issues also tied to all this," she said, explaining that at some organizations losing track of what types of publishing rights are tied to certain images or videos could have expensive consequences.
Rich media content assets often must be shared across numerous channels; how people manage all those different renditions of content, keeping the brand consistent yet tailored to each channel, is key to demonstrating the need for DAM, Yakkundi said.
Executive sponsors and creative help
It's also important to secure an executive sponsor for the initiative, of course. But Yakkundi pointed out that in the case of managing rich media assets, "having champions among end users involved in the process" is especially important because a lot of organizations implement DAM to manage the creative process.
Find out more on rich media content management and digital assets
Learn about Major League Baseball's use of the cloud for rich media management
Read about the business cases when digital asset management might not be the right fit
Discover how NPR revamped its Web content management system to govern rich media content
End users of any DAM deployment will be key to building a business plan, said Matt Leopold, former director of customer experience at TE Connectivity, a global manufacturer of communications switches based in Schaffhausen, Switzerland. Leopold, who has been involved in a couple of DAM initiatives, said when it comes to rich media content management he suggests bringing in the key marketing, human resources and sales people to create the business case.
Begin with departmental leaders and find out which employees who work with collateral on their websites, and find out how they use digital assets and with what programs, he said. "I always think of sales and marketing first because that's the customer-facing side, and that's where you'll find the biggest impact."
It's indeed key to understand who the end users will be, agreed Tim Walters, an analyst at Digital Clarity Group, a content management consultancy in New Hyde Park, N.Y. But who those people are and what types of skills they have are just a couple of key considerations for building the business case.
"Zeroing in on the business process or problem you're hoping to solve with DAM both now and in the future is the main issue," Walters said. After that, organizations need to determine the types, formats and sizes of the assets they need to manage; what will be done with the assets and what role they will play in customer interaction; the degree of DAM integration needed to support that role in a customer experience strategy; and finally, whether the rich media management product will be installed in-house or end up being a cloud application.
"These are all aspects of the business case," said Walters, "and will help determine how critical the management of your digital assets are and what value they hold."
While the business case must be made to the people holding the organization's purse strings, it's not much of an issue to sell it to the end users the way it is for other technology deployments. Individual users are almost always on board when someone explains what DAM will do for them.
"They're not motivated by financials," Brewer said. "They're motivated by the idea of their jobs getting easier."
Jonathan Gourlay is the site editor and news editor for SearchContentManagement.com. Follow him on Twitter @sContentMgmt_TT.
This was first published in September 2012