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Justify investments in digital asset management tools to your CFO

DAM projects require capital, and they take a lot of bandwidth to set up and evangelize to front-line users. Here are benefits the higher-ups can understand.

Digital asset management, for some organizations, represents a crusty old technology from the pre-web, pre-cloud...

1990s. But forward-thinking organizations are rethinking that legacy tech trope and using DAM systems to unleash content stores for both internal and external use -- via the web and the cloud.

According to large-enterprise OpenText customers that participated in a panel at the company's Enterprise World user conference in July, as well as those in the audience who offered insights, two huge challenges to digital asset management (DAM) implementation include:

  • The investments digital asset management tools require for building searchable repositories; and
  • driving awareness and excitement among internal users so the company reaps a payoff on its DAM investment.

But before those two challenges can be addressed by content executives, there's an even bigger one to solve -- getting the CEO and CFO to sign off on the capital outlay needed to launch a new DAM project or to refresh a legacy content repository to make it more usable.

Explaining ROI to senior leadership

Current digital asset management tools typically include incredible technological capabilities; especially when a company's content metadata aligns with a DAM's strongest features. But explaining that to executives who just want the elevator pitch description can be difficult.

What will get their attention, however, are bottom-line benefits. How will a DAM solve workflow problems? Affect new collaboration? Save money in workflows that are too complicated without DAM? Or, in some cases, actually make new revenue for the company?

"There is no unique use case or business case for us," said Carrie McClallen, consolidated asset library product manager at Caterpillar Inc. The DAM has permeated the company's internal workflows beyond the traditional use, populating external websites and the use of assets by marketing staff so much that new uses organically pop up as employees come up with new ideas.

An example of a new, unanticipated use for Caterpillar's DAM tools is the legal staff searching it to confirm that a particular piece of intellectual property is actually owned by the company before sending a cease-and-desist letter for its improper use on the web. Another is the corporate archives team cataloging the whereabouts, condition and photos of physical assets important to the company, such as its pair of Caterpillar boots worn by former NBA star Karl "The Mailman" Malone.

Real DAM benefits

You know your company needs a DAM strategy and system. You probably have a good idea of what the software costs and the time and talent it will take to organize, digitize and properly tag content with the metadata that enables people to use those assets. The last thing on your list is discussing the benefits of the project with the C-suite, which might not be as tech-savvy as your team. Veteran content managers offered some advice for that.

McClallen: Show potential monetization opportunities. In Caterpillar's case, a significantly large enough group of tractor enthusiasts on the web need old, original images of Caterpillar tractors to advance their hobby. These enthusiasts are on a spectrum from spotters, who identify a machine they've seen in the wild, up to mechanically inclined collectors taking on a restoration project who need to understand deep details about the manufacturer's original intent. Caterpillar is looking for ways to license the use of these photos essential to those hobbyists.

Donna Bible, senior digital asset manager at Rosetta Stone: Images and audio recordings are at the heart of this language education vendor's DAM system. Bible said she sees four main DAM benefits the CFO can appreciate. First, stock photos and other creative costs decreased by 80% in the years before and after the digital asset management tools went online, as it reduced the need for purchasing items such as stock photos; it helps maintain brand continuity despite inevitable marketing staff turnover; it helps the legal staff with their documentation needs; and it helps build a digital corporate legacy that, without DAM tools, is amorphous.

Kenneth Wilson, associate manager of digital asset management and libraries at Kohler: According to Wilson, DAM is a great tool to efficiently showcase a company's history and culture to new hires. The 144-year-old kitchen and bath fixture maker also builds electrical generators and plays in the international hospitality market.

Get the marketing team on board from the start and they will help you evangelize the DAM investment.

Its DAM archive helps keep the family business's corporate historical archives organized and accessible. Wilson said that marketing, of course, draws on that archive to create customer engagements. But it's also a great tool for onboarding new employees.

Maura McKinley-Tull, senior director of digital asset management products at Public Broadcasting Service: Get the marketing team on board from the start and they will help you evangelize the DAM investment, advised McKinley-Tull. You will instantly see the value of your work because it makes creating new marketing pieces more efficient.

Charlene Lewis, senior manager of agency management services at Genentech: If your marketing operation is using multiple agencies and producers in multiple locations, DAM will streamline workflows and help standardize content across teams and locales -- especially when in-house marketing leaders mandate the use of the DAM archives by third-party agencies with which it contracts.

The savings add up quickly because the central repository enables simpler asset tracking and dramatically decreases the time to produce or revise an advertisement or marketing brochure, for example -- even if the agency doing the revision is different from the one that created it in the first place.

"We have over 100 agencies," Lewis said. "If you take the agencies and their hourly rate they bill ... the efficiencies of the DAM and the processes behind it are immediate."

Next Steps

What's the use? Choosing your DAM

A good DAM strategy is about more than metadata

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