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In the year 2020, COVID-19 caused a massive change in our economy and the way we work. Within a short time, there was a significant increase in the number of employees working from home. It is now becoming clear that this adjustment in work habits will continue, long beyond 2021 – after the crisis is over. Changes in the ways customers find information and make purchases have also had a major influence on the market for DAM. There has been a large increase in the use of digital services and purchasing methods in both the B2B and B2C segments. This trend has also led to the need for companies to manage a greater quantity of digital assets.
Trend #1: Digital asset management as a central content platform
In the context of remote work, there is nothing more important than universal access to data from any location. That also applies to digital assets like images, videos, audio files, text documents and presentations that are created, managed and used by different teams. Regardless of where an employee is, a DAM system can serve as a central content platform that supplies all parts of a company with needed content. At the same time, DAM solutions also ensure that only up-to-date and approved assets are used. With their powerful search features, they also make it much easier to find files. All of these properties make modern, Internet-connected DAM software the ideal tool for virtual collaboration.
Trend #2: Automation of content across channels
In the recent past, many companies have found it necessary to greatly expand their online marketing and digital services in order to reach their customers during lockdown conditions. Clearly, this requires more and more digital content. To make matters worse, an increasing number of channels have to be supplied with content, such as websites, online shops, e-commerce marketplaces and social networks. This multi-channel marketing represents an increasing challenge for companies. One important digital asset management trend of 2021 is therefore the use of automation to reduce the workload faced by marketing staff. DAM software makes an important contribution here by automatically providing files for each marketing channel in the appropriate format.
Trend #3: DAM integration
Currently, another DAM trend is the issue of interoperability. The objective here is to realize the smoothest possible exchange of data between the DAM software and a number of adjacent third-party systems in order to reduce manual processes and errors. This is sometimes referred to as an “API first” approach. For example, good DAM solutions include connectors to a broad range of systems, not just common content management systems (CMS) like WordPress and Typo3, shop systems like Magento, or various social media channels (cf. Trend #2). Increasingly, they also have interfaces to ERP systems, Adobe products, Office solutions and other types of systems. These interfaces allow DAM systems to be integrated into existing IT environments with excellent results.
Trend #4: Automation of routine work
Many companies are facing great pressure to cut costs. COVID-19 has exacerbated this problem. Automating processes can help companies reduce manual work and thereby lower expenditures. Digital asset management software is offering more and more ways to achieve this. One example is the automatic maintenance of metadata based on defined rules. Some solutions have begun to use artificial intelligence, for example, to identify certain content in images. Based on these results, certain meta-tags can then be set automatically. In the medium term, AI will perform additional work – such as recognizing and categorizing content in audio and video files.
Trend #5: GDPR compliance
Mobile work and the movement of data to the cloud are leading to greater risks for data confidentiality. To make matters worse, the European Court of Justice annulled the Privacy Shield agreement between the United States and the EU in mid-2020. If it is difficult to assess how safe it currently is, from a legal point of view, to host data on U.S. servers. Security-conscious companies are therefore using either local DAM systems to store their assets or cloud DAM solutions in which the data is managed in secure European computing centers.
Trend #6: Improvements in user experience
Modern DAM systems are extremely complex, and they are performing more work, and more types of work, all the time. Ensuring that users can easily make the most of them requires that these systems be intuitive and easy to operate. One of the digital asset management trends of 2021 is, therefore, the focus on user experience. Software developers will continue to improve their existing workflows, features and user interfaces with that in mind. As a result of these efforts, users can expect the following:
- Reduction in complexity by means of role- or workflow-specific interfaces
- More scope for customization
- Smooth exchange of data with other software (cf. Trend #3)
- Integration of helpful DAM features in third-party systems
- AI support (cf. Trend #4)
The pandemic has led to a major increase in enterprise digitization, but this process is still far from complete in many organizations. The objective must therefore be to continue to expand digital infrastructure in order to accommodate new working models as well as the changes in customer requirements. Innovative DAM solutions are essential for efficiently managing and using the increasing number of digital assets that organizations are facing during the pandemic and will continue to face after it is over. This applies even to sectors that have managed their content with other, make-shift solutions up to now.
The use of digital asset management is currently on the rise. At the same time, the trends of 2021 clearly show that DAM systems are being systematically refined and improved in order to provide companies with the best possible support and allow them to meet the challenges of the present and the future.