Drowning in images? Control the torrent.

Struggling to manage your images? You are not alone. Stuart Attwood explains how the right tool for the job can make your life so much easier. 

Does any of this sound familiar?

  • You’ve written an annual report and then gone hunting for images from a year’s worth of activity to illustrate it. 
  • A team member has carefully prepared a presentation and then asked for some “great images” the day before the event. 
  • You are writing social media posts and want to know if a certain image has been used before. 
  • You’ve commissioned a photo shoot, and the photographer wants to know how you want the files – Zip drive, WeTransfer, or downloading them from their own site?
  • You’re losing track of the Google Drive folders and tracking spreadsheets that record information about your images.  

When is a hammer more than a hammer?

Asking me why you should use Digital Asset Management software (DAM) is like asking a builder why they need a hammer. It’s a simple, effective device that has many more applications than simply bashing in a nail.

Of course, you could also do that with a rudimentary tool like a rock, but you will soon see the difference when using a tool that was specifically designed to do this, and other tasks, quickly and efficiently.

I would say the same for DAM software. When used properly, it can save you time and money, and add sense and structure to large amounts of files.

As organisations evolve and grow, their image needs can become overwhelming: receiving and sharing files, collaborating with designers, social media managers and communication team members, and managing important content and copyright information. 

Benefits of the right tool

DAM software is more than just a photo/video library. It can be a single, secure, unified storage facility where you can organise files intelligently.  The files can be accessed by everyone working on a project, with the bonus of being able to communicate and collaborate with each other. Assets can be tagged, and metadata added to allow for quick access and bringing up a variety of images with the same tags when prompted. 

Artificial intelligence is also an aspect that DAM software has embraced. Suggestions for metadata tagging are now available on some platforms,which can speed up the process by quickly tagging multiple files in one go, rather than laboriously opening and tagging each one individually.

The collaborative nature of DAM software can be a genuine boon to speeding up workflows, especially if a project must pass through the hands of multiple stakeholders. You can track users and see who is working on files in real time – especially helpful when multiple users are working on individual files, or if sensitive documents are being stored within the application. 

The ability to archive here is great as well, especially if your organisation has the need for legacy images or documents. Cost is sometimes another factor. Most DAM software provides varying levels of storage, and the pricing is very competitive for the level of storage and ease of use.

Meeting the legal requirements of intellectual or artistic property rights is much easier with DAM software. Information about creators and copyright can be stored with a given piece of work, and displayed whenever a particular file is opened, letting any user know the copyright status of any file and any limits on using the file. This protects both your organisation and the creator of any work that may be licensed for a particular application.

Security is another factor which is worth considering. The DAM setup I use is secured against DDoS and other types of attack. The data held is encrypted both at rest and in transit and there are a host of other background bells and whistles that ensure the safety of the data being used. When I’m advising organisations on the DAM software that is right for them, I also investigate where in the cloud the data is being stored. 

If Google Drive or SharePoint were up to the task of handling bulk, high-quality images or video at the speed and flexibility of DAM software, DAM software wouldn’t need to exist. The output of the product is of course only as good as the input, and one of the advantages of DAM software is that the administrator can “allow” varying degrees of access and ability to upload or download files – key to avoiding a messy and ineffective file storage setup.

Back to the hammer – a simple to operate, well-designed tool is essential to an operation that is made up of many parts. DAM software could be a game changer for your organisation. Operated correctly, it can enhance productivity and gives you and your team near-instant access to your files, making it well worth the investment. 

Stuart Attwood has 25 years’ experience in large scale digital asset management and image enhancement for demanding international clients, and is available to manage digital assets via the Comms Co-op. Taking his own advice, he has recently set up a photo library to manage his own portfolio.  

Published by Catherine Jeffcoat

Wellington-based communications manager.