Digital Asset Management (DAM) – The Human Element

There was a time, in the not-so-distant past, when creative and marketing assets were managed by teams of people, spread across marketing departments, agencies, and printers. It was an era of flat files and phone calls. The asset management process was entirely human-powered.

Enter Technology

Early adopters of Digital Asset Management (DAM) Systems were seeking a reliable, intelligent alternative to replace the fallible human systems. As new marketing channels proliferated and brands globalized, DAM vendors kept pace –strategically and organically improving their systems through capabilities, and features that reflected the needs of the market.

The Human Factor

Modern organizations face an increasingly complex digital asset management environment. Speed-to-market, accuracy, and flexibility are critical to remaining competitive. DAM technology provides a rich, and sometimes overwhelming, array of new capabilities that help organizations keep pace. But technology alone is not a panacea for effective digital asset management. Given that DAM is increasingly deployed across the enterprise, and integrates with other enterprise systems, it is just one-third of the classic (hopefully, not tired) people-process-technology trifecta.

Technology certainly offers up its own challenges. There are lively debates about which systems are best-in-class – offering scale-ability, flexibility, usability – and so on. Integration can be tedious, and expensive. But, organizations still tend to struggle more with the human elements of that view – people and process.

Keeping track of assets from the point of creation through distribution on a global scale requires integrated process and organizational design from end to end. Digital asset managers are challenged with defining workflow across very different work styles – creative teams, media developers, production teams, retail/channel partners, and sales teams to name a few.

Consider Four Dimensions for Effective Digital Asset Management

Rather than leading with technology, we believe there are four human-powered dimensions that need to be addressed first to achieve maximum benefits from digital asset management.

  • DAM Operating Model – Mapping the needs of the organization, the stakeholders and users, distribution channels; identifying technology and tools; and proposing the end-state vision
  • Organizational Fidelity – Defining the structure, roles, and responsibilities surrounding management of assets
  • Practices and Processes – Defining flexible, sensible practice and process guidelines that address continuous asset management – standards, creation, selection, classification, dissemination, use and re-use
  • Measurement and Monitoring – Setting performance goals and benchmarks for DAM operations, and defining methods to track, report, and identify areas for improvement

Of course, starting from scratch is rarely an option. Most enterprises have adopted digital asset management over the last fifteen years and have plenty of tech in place to support it. But many would agree that they are not realizing the full value and potential from their digital asset management. Adoption may be low, processes are siloed, and it’s often tough to identify which asset is the correct asset. Meanwhile, media channels continue to proliferate, and new file types pop-up every day.

Those darn humans.

For an overview of Coffee + Dunn Digital Asset Management services, click here:



  1. Leann Miller says:

    Great article! We are in the middle of implementing a new DAM system and have struggled to communicate the importance of the “Human Factor”. Your article was very timely and since this information is coming from a 3rd party (vs. us) with knowlege and experience in this area, it just might help our business case (when we share it with our Sr. Leaders) regarding the required resources essential for making this technology a valuable tool for our company.

    • Eric Rotkow says:

      Thank your for adding your thoughts. Your comments certainly echo what most clients are enduring. Please be sure to check back soon, as we provide additional insight into approaches marketers take to better implement and operate digital asset management.

  2. Very good article, you do a “dam” good job at laying out the people, process and and technology components of MRM.

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