To understand why DAM is called “digital asset management”, it helps to understand what a digital asset is. I think it’s interesting to first look at a broad definition of just the word “asset”, using Wikipedia for example:
“Anything tangible or intangible that is capable of being owned or controlled to produce value…”
Think about your collection of photos, your PDFs, your layouts, or your videos. Those are all intangible things that you or your organization own. If you can control them, they can be used to produce value by including them in a project, distributing them for coworkers to use, or even make money by licensing them to someone else.
When I’ve attended industry events, another popular definition I’ve heard has been:
“They’re only assets if you can find them”
Makes sense, right? How are you going to control something and create value if you can’t even find it! Which leads me to the next definition:
“A rich media file plus metadata”
If they’re only assets if you can find them, then the way you can find them is by using metadata. Metadata is information like keywords, descriptions, and other tags. You then search on the metadata using the find features within a DAM system. Right now, whatever computer or device you’re using to read this article has thousands of files stored on it. But are they all assets? No! Some of those files are temporary, some are operating system files, and others are configuration and settings files. However, if you take a rich media file and sprinkle a little metadata on top—BAM! It becomes a digital asset!
Those are just a few of the better definitions I’ve come across, but I’ve seen many more that are usually much longer. I’d like to hear what your definition of “digital asset” is, so please let me know in the comments section below.