digital asset management

3 Steps to Manage the Full Lifecycle of Your Digital Assets

By Jon Ogden | Senior Manager of Content at Workfront

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Whether you work in marketing, information technology, product development, professional services, or a number of other departments, you likely have to manage digital assets.

The problem is that there are hundreds of ways to go about this process. Do you create content in an email, a task manager, a spreadsheet, a Word document, a Google document, a PowerPoint presentation, Adobe Illustrator, or somewhere else entirely? What do you do when a team member or an external contact uses a different tool than you do or accidentally gets ahold of an outdated version of a document you’re working on? In many ways, you might find yourself dealing with a fractured experience.

What’s worse, the conversation around content is also often fractured. From in-person interactions to email threads and from chat apps to comments in a Google doc, you may find that the communication about a single project is impossible to follow. In addition, these conversations often don’t even happen in the same place as the content itself, leading to a communication breakdown as you dig around trying to glue the pieces together.

It didn’t used to be this way. At the start of the digital age, there weren’t so many possibilities. People stuck to email and a handful of software options. The situation wasn’t ideal, but it did come with some advantages. The lifecycle of digital assets was generally simple and unified because the options were limited.

Today, by contrast, the possibilities are endless, as outlined above. That’s why we call this situation the digital work crisis, a term that refers to the combined pressures that come with advanced digitization — pressures including endless software options, fragmented communication, information overload, an increased rate of technological change, and more.

How do you address this crisis? How do you successfully manage the full lifecycle of digital assets in an era of seemingly endless possibilities — especially if you’re part of an enterprise that’s buckling under the sheer volume of content you’re producing?

Here are three principles to consider.

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1. Define your current process.

First, count the total number of apps you're using to manage content across your company.

Second, count the total number of apps you're using to communicate about that content.

According to the State of Work report, roughly one-third of knowledge workers feel like their company requires them to use too many technology tools. This is especially true for millennials, nearly half of which (43%) say they feel this way.

Do you know off the top of your head whether your employees feel this way about your process? If not, you might want to run an internal audit to find out.

At that point, you can define your current process. By getting a clear snapshot of what's happening and how team members feel about it, you'll know whether you need to change and how to do it. You might find that everyone's satisfied and your process is already streamlined. If so, congrats! No need to worry. Then again, you might find that the process is suffering from the weight of the digital work crisis. Either way, you'll want to start by defining your process.

2. Cut redundant applications and connect the rest.

At the end of your audit, you’ll likely find ways to consolidate your software stack — especially if you discover redundancies in your application suite.

According to Netskope, a company that analyzes and provides security for cloud apps, the average enterprise on their platform uses 1,181 cloud services (apps) — most of which are downloaded by individuals in the enterprise without proper IT authorization.

If your enterprise is anywhere in the ballpark of average, chances are extremely high that you’ll be able to pinpoint redundancies here. Be bold and cut them down. Then adopt software that connects your remaining applications via APIs so what you do in one solution is transferred to another, unifying the fractured process that comes with the digital work crisis.

3. Use one place to manage the full lifecycle of content.

More than anything, you need a way to create, manage, review, and analyze all digital assets in a single place. This doesn’t mean that a single piece of software will meet the needs of every step of every asset’s lifecycle. But it does mean that you should be able to create a piece of content, house that piece of content, and analyze the success of that piece of content in one place — even if you edit it elsewhere.

That may sound a bit abstract, so here’s an example. Say you’re working in human resources and need to collaborate with a creative agency to make a PDF that promotes an upcoming work party.

One option would be to email a person within the agency back and forth, attaching various versions of a PDF. If you’ve ever done this before, you know how messy things can get when you’re trying to discuss how a section of the second image in the sixth version of the document needs to exactly match your brand colors.

A second (more effective) option is to use a digital content hub to create and manage the asset in a single place from the beginning. The agency creates the asset directly in the hub (which is tied to a range of digital tools via API). All conversation about that asset is also managed in the hub via inline comments layered on the asset itself. In addition, all new versions automatically replace old versions without deleting any prior conversations. And once the piece is finished, you’ll be able to see which departments have downloaded and shared the PDF, enabling you to track the success of the project in the same place you started the project. For more on this unified approach, see the newly released Workfront Library.

Perhaps most importantly, this unified digital content hub is fully integrated into your system of record for work — enabling people at every level of your enterprise to automatically get a sense of how digital content factors into the success of the entire organization. This complete visibility into work management at every level sets enterprises up to adapt with the quickly changing times and overcome the digital work crisis.

It’s a far cry from the fractured experience too many companies are facing today.

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