It's been ten years now, but my honeymoon to India with my wife is still so vivid. The rickety buses, coconut leaf curries and paradise beaches. The thronging market in Delhi's old town and the ancient monastery we visited on the Tibetan border. I'd just got my first digital camera and took hundreds of photos. That was the beginning of my digital collection and years later, I could still summon up the smell of yak butter candles just by flicking through the images on my laptop.
Fast forward a decade. By that time, I'd gathered thousands more photos spread over various portable hard drives, online galleries, social media platforms and email accounts. Yet my collection was a complete mess. Years of lazy filing meant that finding a photo was a nightmare — files had odd naming conventions and there were duplicates all over the place (sound familiar?).
"Years of lazy filing meant that finding a photo was a nightmare"
I decided to take control and centralise it all. I spent hours and hours going through accounts, folders and emails, renaming and re-organising. Finally, I had one master copy of everything which I put onto a 1TB portable hard disk. Problem solved (or so I thought). But when we moved house, disaster struck. Hardware failure! The disk died and the data couldn't be recovered. I had to start compiling everything all over again and some photos were sadly lost. Enough was enough — I needed to find a cloud storage backup option.
Stewart and his wife on their honeymoon
Finding a centralised storage system
After considering Google Drive and Dropbox, I found that the cheapest and most efficient option was Flickr from Yahoo, who offered a generous 100GB of free storage with a user-friendly interface. It wasn't perfect — it took days to upload everything in batches, plus downloading and browsing on Flickr is not the fastest. But for the peace of mind, it’s a viable personal solution. The search facility is pretty good and the embedded metadata means that it can easily order the collection. It's a great personal storage option.
Why am I telling you all this? Because I'm just a single individual with a personal photo collection, yet I badly needed a centralised storage system. That's why it amazes me that so many businesses still don't have a professional system for managing their digital assets. Not only do their marketing teams face the daily hassle of finding and sorting files (plus juggling requests from colleagues for images and logos), but lots of assets simply get lost — either through hardware issues or because they are stored in obscure folders, email inboxes or even staff phones (it doesn't help that they're often not properly named either, meaning that they're practically unsearchable).
"It amazes me that so many businesses still don't have a professional solution for managing their digital assets"
Why you need a DAM
If your brand has a collection of images, video, audio and documents that come from multiple sources and locations, and have to be accessed by multiple team members, then you need a professional digital asset management system. It's that simple. A consumer solution like Flickr might work for me but it's just not adequate for a business (neither is storing your digital assets in a complex maze of folders ).
You look stressed. Is that because your digital assets aren't organised?
A professional DAM will help you to tackle issues like permissions, usage policies, formatting, rights, managing multiple file types, and ensuring that brand-appropriate assets are used. A consumer system or network drive just doesn't cut it in these areas. It's simple really — if I need a centralised storage solution then you do too. Why waste another minute of your day hunting for long-lost files? I'll bet you've got much better things to do (I know I certainly have).
Stewart Oak, Asset Bank Consultant
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