B2B4B Part 5: B2B eCommerce for Beginners

As we move through the B2B4B Series, Part 5 provides a more detailed explanation of the Digital Asset Management (or DAM) System. It’s a complement to the PIM system covered in Part 4, but the use cases show why assets require their own system. As mentioned previously, all of these systems help power digital experiences. These systems help your customers (and your employees) to self-service easier, faster, and with greater efficiencies.

The Digital Asset Management (DAM) System

At its core, a digital asset management system is a database for managing company assets over the asset lifecycle. From documents to images to audio and video files, the database is searchable (through metadata) and provides a means to record and govern the use of the assets. The DAM is used in workflows to ensure that all communications meet legal, regulatory and brand guides. Like a PIM, it can be syndicated to other systems, partners, or media outlets.

Business and technology professionals sometimes compare a DAM to other systems, but here are some common comparisons and how a DAM differs:

  1. A DAM is a deeper, more iterative, and more comprehensive system than a document file storage tool
  2. A DAM often includes useful tools in content and commerce - e.g. dynamic image and video transformations – allowing dynamic adjustment of image sizes or file type in addition to storing the single larger photoshop file
  3. A DAM manages all of the use cases for assets, from marketing materials to the commerce website, unlike a Content Management System (CMS) that is specific for websites

Use Cases for a DAM

Using the Part 4 house analogy (the PIM), there are several ways that a DAM can standardize and keep “the house” running smoothly. A DAM is like a wise house manager who knows what’s coming in and going out consistently, and plans for changes in household needs. The DAM serves as the central hub for all of the assets entering and exiting.

If an asset (e.g. food) spoils or reaches expiry, the DAM signals to users it’s time to remove the item from its location. Similarly, if an asset (e.g. facial tissues) needs to be stocked in multiple places for use at any time, the DAM records location and usage.

DAMs will only become more important, especially as the market moves toward more automation leveraging custobots, aka machine customers. Smart systems that order for themselves will need a crystal-clear view of assets and their usage, location, and expiry at all times. For more on how machine customers are revolutionizing the marketplace, look for the article we are publishing with DigitalCommerce360 coming soon.

Planning for a DAM

When you’re ready for a DAM system, it’s important to plan for the dual processes of purchasing and implementation using these steps:

  • First, assemble a strategic cross-functional team representing multiple departments, especially users from Marketing, Communications, Creative, Business and IT
  • Conduct an audit of all current content and the workflows indicating where they are used
  • Consult with an experienced systems integrator to develop an assets strategy and DAM RFP
  • Then co-develop use cases so you can tailor the DAM to your business needs
  • Then, and only then, ask DAM vendors to present product proposals for your unique needs

Also, review a DAM vis-a-vis your current overall business (not just communications) processes and consider how teams can best adopt the new tools. If done well, a DAM streamlines, chronicles and refreshes assets regularly to keep the house running smoothly. And that’s digital commerce success.

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