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The Future of Digital Asset Management Tools and Processes

Maddie Synoground

By Maddy Synoground | Jan 18, 2022

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Designed as a more feasible alternative to siloed library storage in the late 1990s, digital asset management (DAM) programs have experienced massive growth and transformation over the last twenty years. Today, organizations increasingly rely on digital content, and DAM programs play a key role in the management, distribution, and optimization of these digital assets. According to MarketWatch, the DAM industry is expected to grow from $3.4 billion in 2020 to $6.0 billion by 2025. With no slow-down projected, innovation is a necessity. As the effects of 2020 and remote work continue to shape the digital content ecosystem, the need for more collaborative digital workflows will only continue to grow, with DAM at the center.

From Storage to Optimization

The original storage-only model of DAM systems is becoming obsolete due to the need for more dynamic storage solutions. Successfully connecting the numerous processes around digital content has become the key value indicator of DAM programs. No longer can they just house digital content; they must also optimize this content and continually deliver a simple and user-focused experience.

The transition to cloud-based DAMs combined with the decreasing cost of storage will only further push DAMs away from being simply image and video repositories to becoming multifaceted solutions, addressing the many unique marketing and management needs of organizations.

Emerging Technologies

The demand for more dynamic and complex DAM solutions creates a need for more advanced technologies. While Artificial Intelligence (AI) appears to be a promising tagging solution, it still doesn’t fully capture descriptive metadata. Without context, AI hasn’t been able to significantly increase productivity and the need for human tagging remains. This budding technology is likely to improve over time, but organizations aren’t yet able to heavily rely on it. One of the companies looking to improve AI in the DAM space is EMRAYS. They’ve developed an image context tool that aims to capture this missing and necessary piece. With the help of their tool, users can detect duplicates in seconds, create custom AI models, and rank images in intuitive ways.

While the technology as a whole still has a long way to go, tools like EMRAYS’ Image Context AI could significantly improve and automate the key procedures at the core of DAM systems. Done right, it could change the way we interact with metadata.

End-User Focus

Although there are promising new technologies in the DAM space, there is still a need for human work. Even with the potential of improved AI tagging, metadata management is still largely reliant on people and will continue to be for years to come. DAM managers are vital to a successful DAM program, and ensuring a DAM system is easy to use is one of the most important factors to organizations when searching for a platform. User-focused experiences have been shown to increase user adoption and satisfaction and to help ensure a quick and painless onboarding experience.

As long as humans drive the use and success of these digital technologies, the user experience and interface will remain one of the most important features of DAM solutions.

Open-source & Headless DAMs

Most DAM platforms are proud of their out-of-the-box functionality that permits quick and easy implementation. While this is highly desirable to many organizations, it doesn’t offer the flexibility their creative teams desire. While an out-of-the-box solution might fit seamlessly into an organization's technology stack, even a little customization can make it quicker to implement and adopt.

Custom integrations are a viable option, but not every integration exists, and organizations want the flexibility to adjust and add software to fit their unique environments. Open-source software, along with what are called Headless DAMs, grants users access to source code to use and change it as they see fit. This is very beneficial in tieing together all the systems in an organization and creating a more connected digital environment. For a DAM to be the link between several key business procedures, a level of flexibility is essential and will continue to be a top priority for organizations and users.


DAM is no longer just a management solution, but a key business program. It offers a systematic approach to storing and managing digital assets which organizations increasingly rely on to connect their creative workflows. From a single solution to an integral piece of the digital content ecosystem, DAMs will continue to evolve and transform business processes and creative workflows. The days of their being simple repositories are over, and DAM programs have successfully transformed from the library model to a more holistic management solution and process-driven framework.

If you and your team need guidance in selecting, implementing, or managing a DAM platform, contact Stacks! Our team of experienced DAM architects and librarians has worked with brands both big and small in many different industries and is happy to help.

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