Digital Asset Management in the enterprise process

schedule 11 min

We explain what a DAM - a Digital Asset Management System - is in the corporate process and what serious efficiency advantages it brings companies to work with it.

Without DAM, images are stored in directories on computers. Finding individual photos in these directories is very time-consuming. If, for example, an image with a unique designation is being searched for, then this is simple and quick. If, however, the corresponding photos are to be compiled for 100 products, then a clerk can spend quite some time on this. If the requirement is to obtain an ambience photo with a specific image content, then the challenge is even greater.

This situation is not refreshing and probably the reason why the first image databases were developed more than 30 years ago. The goal is still to make images easier to find. To this end, images are enriched with metadata so that editors have an easier time finding the images they need and making compilations.

Image databases - necessary for companies with many products

Image databases are indeed a great relief here. But they are "image databases." As the term implies, it's about images - photos that are primarily managed by a marketing department. Moreover, the term "databases" points to another shortcoming: the process or management is missing. Images in image databases are usually entered manually and - again manually - keyworded to ensure their easier retrieval. Possibly, this development was caused by the formerly common configuration of marketing departments: They were busy with the production of catalogs and printed advertising materials. For companies with many visually displayable products, the image database was a logical necessity, but no longer.

Compared to these still largely analog times before the advent of the Internet, a great deal has changed: Websites show considerably more photos than catalogs used to; companies like About You still show videos for many of their products, too. There are 3D spins of every conceivable product, customers expect to find instruction manuals, assembly aids, standards documents and certificates etc. for technical products. Both the total number of assets to be managed and the types of different assets to be organized have increased a lot.
Processes need to be automated and optimized to cope with these increased demands. Modern digital asset management systems such as TESSA are extremely helpful in this context.

Perhaps you are now asking yourself the following: What is a MAM - a media asset management tool compared to DAM, digital asset management? There is not much difference - both systems manage files and their metadata. In contrast to MAM, however, DAM also manages documents - i.e. the user manuals, standards documents, certificates, etc. just mentioned. In this sense, a DAM is of course also a MAM, only extended by this document class.

Both systems - MAM and DAM - are linked to a PIM, a Product Information Management System. A PIM is usually the central distribution instance for product master data in the company. Through an interface to the PIM, it is possible for metadata to be assigned to assets. This is how it works at TESSA in conjunction with the Akeneo PIM - there is a dedicated API through which data is linked. This process has an enormous number of advantages: The PIM "knows" which images and other assets belong to a product. Any print products can be automatically populated with them - take catalogs, brochures, product data sheets, instructions, etc., for example. But it's not just the integrated production of print objects that is made possible; the interaction between the PIM and DAM also reduces errors.

And, of course, all kinds of online objects are also created with it. Whether these are websites, web stores, entire e-commerce platforms, marketplaces, or ERPs and CRMs in the company, all of them always receive the current asset material in the desired form thanks to the database connection. More on this later.

How does digital content get into a DAM system?

The number of assets per product has increased enormously since the emergence of the commercial Internet. For companies with many products, media production alone has reached a level of complexity where structuring measures that increase efficiency, security, and speed are urgently needed to keep costs under control.

This is where DAM systems such as TESSA offer appropriate assistance: In industrial companies with their own product development, product managers usually know which photos are required. Ideally, sketches are transferred from their development tools to the DAM. The photographer is notified via a workflow mechanism that new photo requirements are available. He can take the object to be photographed - regardless of whether he is located in Germany or another production country - fulfill his orders and drag the required photos onto the sketches. This creates a new version and the person responsible for the workflow subsequently receives a notification. The necessary checking and acceptance processes also take place in the DAM. After acceptance, the photo is available for general use, along with any existing metadata.

If you are now wondering how this works, for example, with operating instructions, maintenance manuals or product data sheets: Manually, such processes would usually be too much of an overhead. Such files are therefore understood with clearly recognizable file names and transported to the DAM via FTP or other interfaces. So don't worry - a DAM is an efficiency-enhancing entity that provides a home for all of a company's relevant assets. In addition to product-related assets, marketing departments can of course house any other assets in a DAM like TESSA to make them available to colleagues, agencies, service providers and customers around the globe.

Assets find their way into the DAM manually via workflows in which people intervene. It is possible to automatically or manually add relevant information to the assets. In the case of stock material, the manual case is easy to make clear: How long may the asset be used? For what purposes is the license? Up to what print run may it be printed? Etc. In automated processes, AI/KI helps to recognize and keyword objects in photos so that they are easier to find in searches - whether they are flower pots, bicycles, kitchen utensils or items of clothing is of secondary importance.

The perfect research tool

DAMs like TESSA are wonderful research tools. By connecting to the Akeneo PIM, any product attribute can be used as a filter. Search for all your red products: Here you go - everything in red. If you are looking for specific product categories - for example, bollard lights and the corresponding ambience photos: you're welcome. Common use cases are search requests regarding all assets of a product family, series or category. Possibly, the query should also be limited to a certain period of time: Only new products or, for example, only photos taken at a shoot in South Africa in October. Of course, this is possible, as well as searching for previous versions of a photo or document.

Not only such, more or less structural questions are answered: Our customer SLV always finds it great to get ambience pictures of their luminaires around swimming pools displayed with a search query. At the same time, the query works in several languages.

Keyword texts and text recognition: DAMs are characterized by the fact that they do not only manage pixels and vectors. PDFs also contain texts - often, unfortunately, only as scans. These texts are, if necessary, naturally added to the metadata and are searchable. A DAM like Tessa therefore has all the search options that a modern elaborate website also has - right up to an integrated Elasticsearch.

For enterprise processes, another functionality of searches in DAMs is significantly more crucial: searches are storable and can maintain collections as correlates. So if you've created collections that have already been shared, the recipient of the assets in question can be notified that the data has been updated.

Content distribution: Delivering the right quality media to each target system

Many users of MAM and DAM systems use them to produce catalogs. This also works excellently in interaction with Akeneo. The product data of the PIM is linked with the data of the DAM and "put on paper". If a photo or other asset in the catalog is updated, this automatically appears in the current version in the document to be produced, a print template or a PDF, virtually at the push of a button. This process is extremely helpful for the efficiency of media production within companies. Errors are greatly reduced because there is no longer any need to consider where, for example, an image needs to be replaced. This also reduces the downstream hassle when errors have to be justified. In addition, the throughput speed increases considerably if manual work for replacing new versions and checks is no longer necessary or can at least be reduced.

Another advantage of DAM systems such as Tessa, which should not be underestimated, is based on the fact that assets can be manipulated during rejection. Manipulate at this point simply describes adjusting image sizes, file formats, applying logos or watermarks, changing color space, etc. These processes, coupled with assortment compilation in search, allow assets to be provided to customers in the exact form desired by recipients. This is done highly efficiently in the background. Companies thus provide significant workload reductions for data users - merchants, online stores or marketplaces. Time-to-market is reduced because the data recipient is able to place the assets at the desired destination more quickly. In turn, merchants are able to standardize assets from a wide variety of sources and publish them in the same form.

Myriam Bohr, Digital Marketing Manager of our customer Lamy summarizes the benefits of TESSA DAM for her company as follows: "TESSA is an important tool for us worldwide. In combination with the connector, TESSA creates the perfect connection to our PIM system, Akeneo. As a result, we've been able to digitize our processes around the world even more and achieve a significant improvement in "time-to-market."" We are mightily pleased when we can increase effectiveness even further for long-standing customers. By the way - the TESSA DAM has a lot of features in the standard - if something is missing, we play a full enterprise character. Adaptations to the processes in your company are possible at any time.


The place for your digital media

Without DAM - Digital Asset Management - images or all assets lie in directories. With a DAM, workflows - processes - can be mapped, and all of this is rule-based. Assets are provided with metadata - automated in interaction with a PIM or an AI. This makes assets much easier to find than in directories. Collections or assortments can also be formed. Last but not least, these can be manipulated and the photos can be derived for the corresponding target system in the desired form.

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Torsten Herbert

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