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History Be DAM’d: Adding Historical Archives to Digital Asset Management

October 28, 2022 • Sam Grabel

In January 1996, Bill Gates wrote an essay entitled “Content Is King,” published on the Microsoft website. The future of content for the internet, he argued, was a “broad [opportunity] for most companies [to supply] information or entertainment. No company is too small to participate.” He also noted, however, that a transition from analog to digital content was imminent—as were potential setbacks for its stewards. As content continues to evolve as a central component of business enterprises’ operations, so does the complexity of managing it. Today, many businesses are grappling with how to organize, maintain and enable access to an unimaginable amount of content.

The proliferation of digital content has created a need for new fields such as digital asset management (DAM) and product information management (PIM). While these services aim to tackle the organization of and access to content, they have also disrupted long-standing related fields such as archival and records management by focusing on technology rather than the practice of trained and accredited archival scientists. As the DAM field has grown explosively, matured and evolved, so have the gaps in and need for standardization and benchmarking resources across the industry.

In response, a group of DAM community leaders came together in 2012, led by Theresa Regli, Lauren Dohr and David Lipsey, to create the widely known Digital Asset Management (DAM) Maturity Model. Following the standards Carnegie Mellon set with what is now the Capability Model Maturity Institute (CMMI), this group created and published the DAM Capability Model (DCM). The model provides the global content management community with a tool to assess, benchmark and roadmap the continual progress of digital asset management capabilities. Better yet, it’s freely available at www.casdam.com.

The Historical Record Needs To Be Part of Knowledge Management

For all of their benefits, CMMI models and DCM still have an important gap when it comes to managing assets in the long term. Other knowledge management disciplines that may use DAMs to manage content, such as records management and product information management, are focused on maintaining information until its eventual disposal or transfer to cold storage. But what about materials that have permanent value to your organization? For many, corporate pressure to sustain a historical and cultural record of their past is ever-growing, but tracing information going back decades or even centuries can often seem like an impossible feat. That’s why archival collection management—the science of not only managing but maintaining documents and media that contain memory and knowledge—is critical to how an organization operates and warrants special consideration.

For these reasons and more, History Factory recently became a collaborator with the DAM Capability Model. Our aims are to raise awareness and change prevailing mindsets around a new and improved set of tools and practices to ensure that assets of historical value are accessible for organizations to use not just today but years from now.

Brand heritage and asset management are much more than just a stop on your DAM journey. They’re the future of how you can preserve institutional knowledge to pass on to future generations, and they’re critical to the longevity of any organization.

Archival Management Needs To Evolve Alongside the DAM Capability Model

Just as DAM needs to evolve, the practice of archival management must also advance to meet the current and long-term needs of modern businesses while staying true to its purpose

As noted in a recent survey of archivists, archives users and budget and tech decision-makers, the state of archives management and software systems is becoming increasingly complex and frustrating. For instance, 27% are frustrated by the levels of access given to individuals, while 24% believe items aren’t organized intuitively

Furthermore, 52% of archivists believe that data protection and security are the biggest challenges in effectively managing an archives program, and budget and tech decision-makers were concerned about the difficulty of bridging the access gap between physical and born-digital assets.

These results, taken together, underscore the need for archives to evolve alongside and integrate knowledge management functions such as Digital Asset Management to adopt best practices and become less frustrating to archivists, users and decision-makers.

The DAM Capability Model, alongside archival management expertise, is solving a real business challenge—present and future—regarding how to use and think about digital assets and archiving for maximum business efficiency and performance.

The Bottom Line

As industry leaders interact with, learn about and adopt the DAM Capability Model and archival services, we believe this new partnership will encourage the broader business community to think about its relevance to their own knowledge management needs. “Start with the Future and Work Back”™ is a philosophy that we believe Bill Gates would agree with, and now that we’ve accumulated a critical mass of content, information stewards need to know how to maintain it for the long term. So wherever you are in your DAM or archives management journey, get the most out of your experience by getting in touch or signing up to receive more information about our collaboration with CASDAM.

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