A New Way to Think About Digital Asset Management
If you’re like the average knowledge worker, you check email and IM every 6 minutes. An alarming 40.1% of your day is spent multitasking with communication tools, the dangers of which are well established. And you use 56 different apps and websites per day, switching between them nearly 300 times.
Can anyone say “digital work crisis”?
The stats above are courtesy of a service called RescueTime, which analyzed the 185 million hours of work logged in their software in 2018. The software is designed to help knowledge workers track how they’re using their computer time throughout the workday. Users can access data about the apps and websites they use most, with the ability to set goals and easily block whatever distracts them most—either all the time or just at certain times of day.
It turns out (surprise, surprise) that digital distractions are rampant. Analysis of the aggregate data shows that forty percent of knowledge workers never get more than 30 straight minutes of focused time in a workday. And on average, we spend 21% of our device time on distracting sites like entertainment, news, and social media. (The worst days for this are November 26th and July 7th—the Mondays after Thanksgiving and the 4th of July.)
Considering that those who make use of this type of software are more motivated and educated about productivity than the general population, the problem is probably much worse than these numbers would suggest.
The obvious place to start when it comes to addressing this problem is to reduce the number of business apps we rely on to complete our work, and make sure those that remain are integrated and connected. According to Workfront’s most recent State of Work study, modern knowledge workers are drowning in digital tools. Thirty-one percent of U.S. workers say they use too many apps at work, with Millennials being significantly more likely than Baby Boomers to express this concern (43 percent vs. 25 percent).
Digital asset management is one such area that would benefit from app consolidation and centralization. How many different tools do you currently rely on to access and manage the documents, images, and feedback that comprise your marketing, IT, or product development library? If you’re like most organizations, your digital asset management software stack is comprised of dozens of tools, which can be roughly grouped into three categories or functions. Let’s explore them briefly.
1. Tools that Help You CREATE Digital Assets
Every organization needs one or more tools to create text documents, images, graphics, videos and more. These tools will be highly specialized depending on the nature of the work being done, from software development to marketing. And quite often each new digital asset draws upon elements of past assets (fonts, colors, images, and even particular phrases and paragraphs of text).
The ability to create new assets quickly, without having to open a handful of different applications and look through dozens of old versions, depends on being able to quickly access the complete archive of past work—whether they’re Word documents, PDFs, PowerPoint presentations, or other file types—and also easily view the context in which those assets were created, including related feedback.
2. Tools that Help You FIND and USE Digital Assets
An intricate file folder network housed on an internal system. A digital asset management (DAM) solution. Cloud-based storage. These are all examples of systems organizations use to organize and find digital assets. Many organizations will use a combination of these, which only makes it harder to know where to look to find the asset you need. In order to navigate these systems, knowledge workers rely on one of three things:
- personal knowledge of the organizational structure and the naming system for files
- keyword searches, which in turn rely on the appropriate keywords being applied to the assets in the first place
- a colleague or gatekeeper employee who manages the system and always knows where everything is
One of the challenges of the digital overload organizations face today is that they go to the trouble of saving and archiving past work, only to find that it’s prohibitively difficult to locate and use those assets down the road. If you find this is the case for you, the first step is to consolidate digital assets into a centralized space. The second is to look for a solution with enterprise-class search, so your team can find precisely what they need, no matter which keywords or phrases they used, without having to rely on specialized search tricks.
3. Tools that Help You FOCUS Your Digital Content Strategy
There are countless ways to measure the effectiveness of digital assets. Were they created on time and within budget? Did they meet their stated goals? What was the internal response to the assets—did employees feel pride in the work and believe their contributions mattered? What was the external response to the assets—were the opens, clicks, sales, organic reach, or other analytic data in line with expectations?
Knowing the answers to these questions is essential for organizations that want to know what content to focus on next, based on past performance. And for most organizations, these answers are fragmented in a dozen different tools, from project management software to specialized analytic apps. But when you have a centralized, integrated digital content hub that preserves not just the assets themselves but the complete context of how the asset came to be—including related content, projects, people, status, and history—the answers are readily available, automatically preserved, and easy to access at any point in the future.
The Benefits of a Digital Content Hub
Digital content is the lifeblood of countless organizations in the digital age. Knowledge workers can only be as effective as the tools they use to create, find, use, and focus this digital content. If those tools are redundant, disconnected, and inconsistently applied across the organization, that’s going to show in the speed, quality, and cost of the content produced.
If you’d like to churn out better content more quickly while using fewer resources, start by radically simplifying and streamlining your digital content process. How? By housing all of the functions discussed above (create, find, use, focus) in the smallest possible number of digital tools, with maximum integration with the other tools you rely on to complete your work. The ideal number? One. One digital content hub. One comprehensive system for managing the full lifecycle of digital assets, like Workfront Library, which connects workflows and assets across the wider enterprise and enables teams to manage work, review and approve assets, and distribute them, all in one place.
While reducing your digital asset stack to a single solution is the ideal, it may not be immediately feasible for every organization. In the meantime, keep this takeaway in mind: anything you can do to reduce the number of apps and websites knowledge workers toggle through each day will save your team valuable time and mental energy. And given that the current average is 300 daily switches among 56 different apps and websites, there’s a lot of room to improve.