Why MSMEs should manage their Digital Assets
If you do a quick search for what constitutes an asset, Investopedia would define it as “anything of value that can be converted into cash”.
Taking it further, if we prefix ‘digital’ to ‘assets’, it funnels down to specific operational assets that use digits, particularly binary digits, in its operations. This includes textual contents and documents, electronic and multimedia files among others. Digital assets are files that exist across organization, as technology and automation system progresses, regardless of the device where the digital asset is stored or created. The term “Digital Asset Management” (commonly referred by acronym DAM) also refers to the protocol for downloading, renaming, backing up, rating, grouping, archiving, optimizing, maintaining, thinning, and exporting files in an organization.
Mostly, big corporations have in place the strategies and framework to manage and safeguard their digital assets, but MSMEs are certainly falling short of the minimum expected standards.
Managing Digital Assets: Need of the hour for Growing Organizations
With MSMEs, technology penetration is getting deeper – day-by-day into business application and processes. Besides, the digital assets are increasing in numbers and types. So, it becomes all the more important and critical for MSMEs, to manage and strategies their digital assets
As an organization grows in stature and size, different teams and departments keep inventing their own ways of storing and searching for electronic documents and files and many types of visual contents (like business presentations, photographs, graphs, diagrams, videos, audios etc.). The real costs of unmanaged digital assets to MSMEs, in the long could be huge, if not planned today. The two most important reasons that should prompt MSMEs to think seriously about the topic could be:
(I) Brand and rights management:
With the expected growth trajectory of an MSME, it is encountering ever increasing legal and statutory obligations, under the rule of the law like licenses, agreements, copyrights, patents, to suggest a few. Similarly, with adoption of newer business practices, which are more tech oriented and social driven, DAM, becomes all the more important. MSMEs are getting more dependent on the ability to track copyrights on things like brand marks, branded imagery, and licensed properties such as music and visual content generated for advertising.
(II) Information silos
I have mostly found MSMEs to work under a silos mentality, that is, different sections or departments do not share information because of insecurity and because they have cultivated a habit of not celebrating success and work achievements, with others. Such cultural phenomenon in developing countries like India has played havoc across legacy setups. It is fatal in the long run, which may undermine MSMEs potential as a cohesive unit. In such an environment, storage and search strategies remain unique to the groups of people who invent them. New employees or people from other departments will not be able to find what they need, to take better business decisions. Centralizations of digital assets and professional digital preservation is the only answer, which seek to device ways of managing shared infrastructure and tasks.
(III) How MSMEs should go about it
It is very easy to become overwhelmed when you start a digital asset management project. MSMEs may have years or decades of content that needs Organization or consolidation. All or none of this content may have been organized in different ways over the years. There is no easy finish line for a DAM, but there is a starting point, going from macro to micro:
- Which digital assets does organization use and produce?
2. What are the sources of the digit assets used and produced?
3. What are the destinations of digit assets used and produced?
4. Where are the digital assets stored?
5. What are the common problems encountered in the use, production, delivery, and storage of your digital assets?
Often the strongest argument for DAM implementation in MSMEs is simply a lack of easy access to digital items in the work environment. With increasing file sizes and the desire for a more flexible electronic assets, the trump card for DAM implementation argument, may be the dire need for a digital strategy where none existed before.
Choosing the right DAM Solution for MSMEs
There is no “one best DAM” for everyone. There are many different options in the marketplace, what sort of DAM to launch can be sometimes confusing for MSMEs, in particular. Generally, DAM solutions are classified into three categories: Commercially Available solutions that include SaaS (Software as a Service), SaS (Service and Support), SLA (Service-level Agreement), ASP (Application-Service providers), or PaaS (Platform as a Service). The second type of solution is Open Source (built by online communities and are free of licensing fees) while the third type is In-house developed.
Open Source platform or in-house brewed DAM solution seeks deployment of scarce resources and technical support to get rolled out. The DAM solution that a MSME chooses should not be a system that acts in an isolated bubble. In order to be effective, it must be connected to all the different systems and sub-systems, within an establishment.
The majority of DAM deployments today is SaS (generally Cloud-based) agreements with vendors. The primary reasons for the reliance on SaS, is that the full-time cost of experienced, qualified individuals for this type of work outstrips the return on Investment (RoI) for small- to medium-scale setups.
MSMEs must spend enough time both to investigate the options available with them and to build the organisation’s willingness to support the new system. Here it is to be recognized that the initial implementation cost may be followed by licensing fees of vendor(s) that must be paid periodically, with possibility of getting hiked with scalability and intensity of usage.