Why growing SMEs are choosing new digital asset management software


Mike Paxton, digital asset management expert at Canto discusses why a technology previously reserved for enterprise companies is now powering SME productivity.


SMEs are full of busy people. And regardless of your industry, the more productive everyone in your organisation can be, the bigger the boost to your bottom line.

But one of the greatest challenges for teams today is the sheer volume of digital assets they have to manage – or in other words, the number of files and folders that everyone in the business has to save and share. It’s the modern way of working and this reality isn’t set to change!

From documents to presentations, from images to videos, and from spreadsheets to design files – SMEs create hundreds if not thousands of new files every week.

This situation lies behind a growing trend amongst SMEs: the adoption of new digital asset management (DAM) technology. So what is this, why is this technology now available to SMEs and why is its popularity rising?

A beginner’s guide to DAM

SMEs typically use shared servers or Dropbox or Google Drive-style services. But it’s not long before these are outgrown. At the same time, content is often not centralised, and it makes life particularly difficult for staff in multiple locations or on the road.

Put simply, DAM is a solution to help consistently store digital assets in a secure, central location so they can easily be found and shared.

This technology empowers staff, helping them quickly find tagged assets, saving them from long searches or taking up the time of colleagues to track down what they’re looking for. Eliminating this helps everyone spend their time focused on what really matters to the business.

Here are some common scenarios we see from businesses we work with:

  1. A successful SME has grown overseas and has teams working across different timezones requiring instant access to the same files, without any doubt over which is the latest version.
  2. A manufacturing business keeps a catalogue of products in one central location. Using DAM their library is accessed by their Sales team to provide images and factsheets to customers, and as it is company branded, certain files are also made accessible for public download.
  3. A fashion start-up is releasing its latest seasonal range. An external photographer shoots the new collection and uploads this to the company’s DAM library so it can instantly be accessed by multiple stakeholders for review. This eliminates the need for time-consuming downloads by each individual to their own Mac, PC, laptop or tablet.
  4. An established marketing agency has many folders of imagery compiled over several years, with different saved name formats, including lots of photography of brand ambassadors and spokespeople. Thanks to facial recognition technology within DAM software, these photographs can be instantly tagged saving considerable manual searching.
  5. A design and print business produces graphics for a wide range of companies and often quick modifications are required. As DAM software integrates with design programmes, fast, simple changes can be made to a design file in its saved location, reducing time spent on edits.

Enterprise-grade tech now available to small business

In years gone by, DAM was the preserve of large companies because the software was installed on-premise. An in-house IT team would have to install the tool to everyone’s computer, train employees and then manually update the software on every machine.

Large companies could justify this given their scale and benefits to their organisation. But for SMEs, it just didn’t make sense. SMEs typically invest in new services and technology as they reach a size which justifies an investment to help them move to the next level of operation and this was too great a leap.

What’s changed?

The evolution of cloud-based software, often referred to as SaaS (Software-as-a-Service), has opened up new opportunities for small businesses to benefit from big tech.

Access to DAM has been made possible (in other words, affordable!) for SMEs by the fact it’s now accessible via a web browser, as opposed to an on-premise installation requiring major investment. No IT team required, an intuitive user interface without the need for staff training, and affordable pricing all mean the software is readily accessible and can scale with your business development.

Top advantages for SMEs

  • Get everybody working in the same way. No more saving to desktops, shared servers or full Dropbox and Google Drive accounts. DAM software requires everyone in a department or the entire company to save files in the same secure way, to be discoverable by others. And when new team members join, it immediately supports knowledge sharing. Existing assets can easily be found by new joiners, avoiding duplication of effort.
  • Provide appropriate access to third-parties. SMEs often need to bring in agencies, contractors, freelancers or other temporary staff to provide extra resource or expertise, but sharing the files they need can be time-consuming. It may not be appropriate to grant full access to a shared drive or folder to a third-party, but neither is it desirable to have to regularly split files into multiple folders. With DAM, admins can allow an approved individual or team access to only the assets you require them to have.
  • Upload all your existing files in a matter of clicks. There is no need to be concerned about the time and effort it will take to migrate your folders to a secure DAM platform. Such platforms are designed to make this a pain-free process and ensure you’re better organised in no time.

As you consider what new technology will have the greatest benefit to the performance of your team, consider: what will be seamless to integrate; what can be used immediately by all; and what can naturally scale with our business?

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