Businesses have always needed to organise, find and use their files. In the offices of yesteryear, these were kept in filing cabinets or archives. Now, almost every file you use for work is kept online in the cloud.
Digital asset management (DAM) systems have had a similar evolution. 15 years ago, most were on-premise and required significant investment in server hardware and IT infrastructure. These ‘on premise solutions' functioned like a shared drive which employees could access through their business's computer network without internet access.
Today, thankfully, almost all digital asset management software (including Dash) lives on the cloud. And unless you have specific requirements for a dedicated, physical server for your assets, that's good news for your business. Let's explain.
What's a cloud digital asset management system?
A cloud-based DAM system is the single source of truth for your brand assets, where employees and external partners can go for your visual content. It should function as the single platform for digital files like your marketing assets, videos, logo designs, and audio files.
Web-based DAM software usually run on a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. This means you pay a recurring subscription to access an internet-based system that's already been built by the vendor.
On-premise vs. cloud DAM - what's the difference?
Where your assets are kept isn't the only difference between these two types of DAM solutions. Here's a side-by-side comparison.
Sure, there are advantages to an on-premise DAM - like far greater control over customisation and security procedures. But if you don’t have the means, or those aren’t important factors for you, opting for a cloud-based DAM will be a better option.
8 benefits cloud-based DAM brings for your business
Cloud-based digital asset management solutions have a wide range of different features (and price tags) - but the best ones will give your company the following range of benefits.
1. Easier to organise and find your content
Organising and searching for your digital content is one of the key features of a good DAM. If done well, the search function of a DAM should free you from the drudgery of searching for files in shared drive folders. If you opt for a tool like Dash, you can search for your content across all file tyes, and find what you're looking for, fast.
How? Through two powerful advanced search capabilities: custom fields and AI tags. We'll use the Dash of a made-up houseplant brand, Planto, to show you what we mean
Let's cover AI tags first. When you upload an image to a DAM, it'll scan the file and add its own descriptive tags, like the ‘leaf' and ‘plant' tags in our example below.
Then you can use custom fields to create tags and filters specific to your business. You can filter by different attributes like product category, marketing campaign, ad performance, and more to find relevant assets.
Building your digital asset management taxonomy has never been easier. 😇
2. Faster to share files with your team and partners
Forget the clunky file sharing features of Google Drive. Most DAMs have in-built features which should (if designed well) make sharing files, regardless of file size, a breeze.
For your colleagues with Dash accounts, you're able to set access controls - so people in different teams only see the digital content they need.
And if you're sharing creative files with external stakeholders, you can select a group of assets and choose to send by link or via email. Or you can go one step further and use portals without having to worry about access controls. Portals are great if you're working with external partners like wholesalers or creative agencies who need constant access to a large volumes of assets.
DAM sharing features are also useful for your creative workflows, like when you're planning your next content creation project. Let's say your photographer has a load of new product shots for you to review. You can set your freelancer up as a contributor and manage the approval process through Dash, rejecting the shots that don't work and accepting the ones that do.
3. Get creative files ready for customers quicker
We talk to in-house design and creative teams using Dash regularly. And one thing that comes up constantly is how Dash reduces the number of repetitive requests they get from their colleagues.
Dash, like most of the top digital asset management tools, has image editing tools built into it. You can convert an image into a different format (like PNG into WEBP, for instance), resize it, crop and rotate it without needing your designer.
Here's how David, graphic design manager for dog food brand Forthglade, describes it:
“We get fewer requests now for branded graphics and logos because they’re all on Dash. People in other teams can do basic editing in Dash, like resizing graphics, so they don’t have to come through us.”
If you have creative asset specs you use regularly, like your homepage banner, you can add them as a preset download size.
Being able to do simple editing tasks yourself means you can get assets ready for campaigns and in front of customers faster.
4. Doesn’t need as much investment
Okay, so this isn’t necessarily the case for all cloud DAMs. If you’re looking at enterprise DAM systems, like Bynder, they come with more expensive price tags and it’ll take longer to recoup the ROI of your DAM.
But if you pick an affordable DAM (like Dash, which starts from £79/$109 a month), it’ll be far cheaper to get your return on investment than setting up an on-premise DAM.
5. Grows with your brand
No lie, this is currently the top reason customers cite for signing up with Dash. They're planning to grow their brand and they've realised keeping thousands of visuals in Drive, Dropbox or servers will hold them back.
If all your content is easy to access from a single place, then you'll:
- Save the time you used to spend hunting for visuals
- Make sure only your brand-approved assets are used
- Search across a wide range of file types to find what you're looking for, fast
- Help teams work together on projects
- Use portals to share product shots with resellers and make it easier for them to sell your products
- Speed up the time it takes to get assets ready and out through content delivery networks
A good digital asset management system saves you time and reduces the repetitive tasks you’re doing - so you can focus on growing your brand. That's what furniture brand, RJ Living, who came from Google Drive to Dash, told us. In the words ofI Nathan, their COO: “we can grow with Dash”. Amen.
6. Simpler to integrate with existing tools
A digital asset management platform shouldn't exist in isolation. If your design and marketing teams want to use a tool to organise their visual content, they're also likely using other cloud-based apps - like Buffer to schedule social media, Shopify to run the online store, or Adobe Creative Cloud to create your design files.
What do all those tools have in common? They're cloud-based. So if these are already being used by your team, picking a cloud-based DAM is going to make it far easier to integrate into your tech stack. Dash, for instance, has integrations with different cloud-based marketing and design tools.
7. Better suited to remote working
On-premise DAMs often require you to be office-based to access them, or your IT team will need to set you up with a VPN.
You don't need us to tell you that working patterns have shifted considerably, with working from home now the norm. Is on-premise digital asset management software going to give you the flexibility your employees need, especially remote workers or your on-the-road sales team?
A key benefit of a cloud-based DAM is they can be accessed from wherever you have an internet connection. It is far better suited to remote and hybrid teams needing access to digital content.
8. Secure storage on the cloud
Don't think that just because your cloud digital asset management software is online, rather than on a physical server, that it's any less secure. It's worth checking out the DAM vendors you're considering, but the top ones will have rigorous security measures in place to keep your assets secure - from encryption to password protection and SSO.
That being said, it's always worth doing your research if this is something you're concerned about. Look for suppliers like Dash. We want Dash to be a secure cloud platform, so we take our security to keep your creative assets safe. That's why we're ISO/IEC 27001 accredited. FYI, this accreditation is “the world's best-known standard for information security management systems” - so now you know!
How to pick the best cloud DAM tool for your business
Now you’re sold on a cloud-based digital asset management platform, it’s time to whittle down your favourites. And believe us, there’s a lot to look through - like Dash and Canto to name just two.
To help you out, we’ve got something you might find useful - our free, editable DAM comparison worksheet. Pop in information about your favourite (we've already filled Dash in for you) and draw up your shortlist of cloud-based DAM solutions.
If you want to try Dash for yourself, take out a free trial in seconds - or book a call with the team and they'll show you around! You'll get access to everything (including our advanced features) and unlimited users from day one.