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Digital experiences depend on rich media: Spiffy images communicate both insights and feelings beyond the plain meaning of text. Distinctive pictures combined with streams of catchy tunes engage audiences, promote branded identities and produce digital user experiences -- the interactive environments that combine informative displays with actions, responses and intelligence.
It might look like magic or be taken for granted by the consumer, but digital experience management in today's era of mass personalization and targeted content delivery poses back-end challenges for marketers and publishers.
Content producers must contend with the rapidly growing volume, variety and velocity of digital assets needed to create these experiences. Multiple images are needed to produce dynamic information streams and to replace the single pictures published within static webpage displays.
Digital marketers and publishers face an all-too-familiar problem: How to best manage the ever-changing collections of photos, video clips and other kinds of digital assets that appear on websites and mobile apps.
Managing digital assets is different from managing text, and requires unique capabilities, workflows and support for business operations. Photo editors rely on different desktop editing tools than writers. Graphic designers use layout tools to assemble images and text into digital brochures. Website managers utilize digital dashboards to incorporate rich media into webpage displays and mobile apps.
The importance of a shared repository
Regardless of the tools in use, there is a common thread in digital experience management: Behind-the-scenes, front-line employees are accessing and updating collections of digital assets.
Consider what a digital marketer, working for an outdoor adventure travel firm, needs to do to produce promotions about upcoming trips, publish them on the company's website and generate the branded collateral for personalized marketing campaigns. The marketer must rapidly select 30 enticing photos from an image collection of many thousands of items. Staffers in this role juggle many activities and continually seek quick wins to enhance their productivity.
The firm, in turn, maintains a crowd-sourced collection of images -- asking customers to submit favorite photos from their trips and offering rewards for the ones selected. A team of photo editors, working for an external advertising agency, makes the selections, touches up the various elements in the customers' pictures, secures the publication rights and organizes the collection for the digital marketers to use.
Notice the role for a shared repository that goes beyond a network file share or a web content management (WCM) system. Both the digital marketer and photo editors collaborate by collecting, organizing and selecting the needed assets, and then relying on other tools to create the websites and promotional messages.
What a DAM system delivers
In fact, digital marketers and creative professionals (including photo editors) are best advised to rely on a digital asset management (DAM) system. While file sharing and storage are at the core of DAM, there is much more. A DAM system includes capabilities for consistently categorizing photos, videos and other digital assets, incorporating industry standard metadata wherever possible. A DAM system indexes assets by familiar terms that are related to business activities.
As a result, a DAM system becomes the system of record for managing how digital assets are catalogued and used. At minimum, it can:
- Provide the single source of truth for accessing, organizing, protecting and distributing digital assets.
- Ensure security and manage access controls.
- Make it easy for appropriately authenticated digital designers, marketers and business team staff members to get work done.
Moreover, a modern DAM system features easy integration with related enterprise applications, such as WCM, marketing automation and CRM platforms, for comprehensive digital experience management.
Task-centric DAM exploits the cloud
Important changes for the role of DAM within an enterprise computing environment are now in the works. No longer a self-contained information silo, a DAM system should directly support operational tasks. What I term task-centric DAM should link heretofore disconnected activities to produce seamless business processes.
For instance, website editors relying on a WCM platform to implement a marketing campaign need quick and easy access to approved photos and video clips stored within a DAM system. Similarly, graphic designers laying out the artwork for product packages, advertising executives creating the digital signage for a new brand identity and technical marketers developing spec sheets for a new device all need to find the right assets to complete their particular tasks. Regardless of their roles and the tools they use, staffers are working digitally.
Task-centric DAM becomes easier with the move to the cloud. More is at stake than enhanced performance capabilities -- such as handling the peaks and valleys of high-volume production schedules -- when computational resources are in heavy demand.
With the advent of microservices and RESTful APIs, a cloud-native DAM system can easily connect with other relevant cloud-based services for innovative digital experience management. For instance, with the move to the cloud, adding object-level image recognition, automatic asset tagging and streaming video analysis is now feasible by linking a DAM system with relevant AI and machine learning services accessible through cloud-connections.
In short, task-centric DAM is now at its inflection point, leading to wide-scale adoption. But digital marketers and creative professionals must first get their digital assets in order. Needed are the asset-level management capabilities of a modern DAM system. Be prepared to extract added value by using ever-more items and larger collections to deliver truly innovative digital experiences.
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