If you’re looking for a way to organise your company’s files and assets, two of the options you’ll usually come across are ECM (enterprise content management) and DAM (digital asset management).
To the untrained eye, these three letter acronyms don’t mean a great deal. That’s a bit of an issue when you need to choose between them to find the right option for your organisation.
In this post, we’ll provide a clear definition for ECM and DAM systems before explaining how the two differ.
Broadly speaking, ECM is a system set up to provide information to employees which supports day-to-day business processes. It does so by storing and organising files, making them easily accessible to all users.
That includes databases with clients’ information or login credentials (classed as structured content) as well as text-based documents like Word files, emails and PDFs (classed as unstructured content).
While content has become a broad term covering everything from images and videos to basic text-based content, ECM generally deals with the latter. ECM systems are useful as businesses make the transition to paper-free, allowing them to store content such as invoices and contracts digitally without the need for vast filing cabinets.
On the other hand, DAM is a more all-encompassing solution. It’s used to store, organise, edit, share and even monetise all kinds of digital assets. From large, high-quality images, videos and audio files to simple presentations, spreadsheets and word documents – practically any asset can be managed using a DAM system.
DAM systems are renowned for their sophisticated search facilities, allowing companies to manage a vast array of assets with ease. Searching by keywords, location data and a range of other specific fields, you can always retrieve the asset you’re looking for.
As well as a standalone system, DAM can be integrated with ecommerce sites or online libraries to make assets viewable and searchable for customers, members or the general public. They can also be made available for sale with instant digital delivery and a range of integrated payment options.
Following on from the fundamentals outlined above, there are some clear differences between DAM and ECM systems. First and foremost, ECM systems are not typically built for complex metadata like DAM software. That means they generally offer a basic text search rather than more advanced facilities.
As a result, ECM systems are usually used for text-based documents and simple business records, whereas DAM is suitable for a wider range of larger and more advanced assets.
Finally, ECM is normally a standalone solution which is used by staff individually to support their day-to-day activities. In contrast, DAM is ideal for collaboration involving multiple employees, different departments or even third parties – with customisable access levels allowing authorised users to view, edit and share assets.
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