What are digital assets?

The digital world has been growing exponentially since at least the 1940s and our appetite for content isn’t slowing down. Statista predicts the volume of…

Conrad Henson profile picture
Conrad Henson

January 24, 20233 minute read

The digital world has been growing exponentially since at least the 1940s and our appetite for content isn’t slowing down. Statista predicts the volume of data created, captured copied and consumed worldwide will grow to 181 zettabytes by 2025. Our vocabulary has grown in tandem to accommodate new concepts that appear ever more frequently. Late last century, we needed a way to describe works of art and design that were held as computer files, such as images from a digital camera. This became particularly important when systems, processes and people specialized in managing these files emerged from the content management segment. The term that achieved acceptance was “Digital Asset.” The software and practices for managing the files became known as “Digital Asset Management,” usually shortened to “DAM.”  

Why are digital assets important? 

The reason for this terminology is that this type of file has value, and an owner who can access or transfer that value. In other words, it is an asset. However, the value cannot be accessed unless the file can be found by the owner or their agents. A coin that has fallen between the cushions of a sofa has no value unless it is found. And like any valuable item, it must be protected from unauthorized use. Because metadata is the mechanism for making files discoverable and secure, a simplified definition would be “File + Metadata = Asset.”  

The core purpose of Digital Asset Management is to turn files into assets and maximize their value. A recent survey shows 54 per cent of US office professionals report wasting time searching for important files in cluttered online filing systems. A good DAM initiative will prevent potentially valuable files from being lost or misused, encourage appropriate re-use, and optimize the creation, distribution and archiving processes.  

What are the different types of digital assets? 

As the digital world has continued to expand, new classes of digital objects have emerged that fall into the broad definition of “Digital Assets.” DAM practices are experts at managing digital images, diagrams, video, audio, documents and presentations. More recent classes include 3D models, animations, augmented reality / virtual reality (AR/VR), video games and HTML content.

However, the most problematic recent arrivals are cryptocurrency and NFTs. Searches for “digital asset management” will now deliver mixed results from martech and crypto industries. Of course, this isn’t a new challenge for our industry. Searches for “DAM” have always been split between martech and civil engineering. So if I can be totally clear, OpenTextTM does not build big walls that hold back water, nor do we provide blockchain wallets. We do, however, provide the most powerful, adaptable and trusted Digital Asset Management solutions for today’s complex digital world. 

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Conrad Henson

Conrad is a Product Marketing Manager for Customer Experience Management based in Auckland, New Zealand. Conrad specializes in Digital Asset Management, a field in which he has worked since 2011. As a DAM practitioner and former OpenText customer, he has interests in user-focused innovation, no-code configuration and the role of DAM in Digital Transformation.

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