SharePoint Vs. DAM Software - What’s the difference? 

One option will allow you to get by. While the other will take your content management to the next level.  

A common question that comes up as soon as a marketing team starts to get overwhelmed with the dis-organization of creative content and digital assets is: “Can I just use SharePoint, or do I need a purpose-built Digital Asset Management (DAM) System?”  

It’s the classic tug of war between marketing and IT.  Marketing wants a purpose-built system, with advanced, bespoke features for marketers and designers, while IT says to use SharePoint because it’s already there and it’s ‘free’ (in that it’s available at no additional cost because SharePoint is usually purchased as a larger IT bundle). 

So, what is right for your business?

While Digital Asset Management software and SharePoint have some things in common in terms of enabling people to collaborate, share digital assets and manage them, there are so many big differences too. Differences that make a big impact to a marketing team’s productivity and efficiency levels. 

It all depends on where you are on the marketing operations maturity curve. For basic use cases where you need a simplistic online storage space, SharePoint may be just fine. But for advanced content marketers who need more than a glorified shared drive, Digital Asset Management software is the ideal solution.  

So what is a DAM and how does it differ from SharePoint?

Digital Asset Management (DAM) software is a business process management solution that provides you with a centralized online hub to create, manage, share, track and find digital assets, to manage the creative process.

It’s used to create, manage, search for and distribute digital content. It also is used to proof, markup and finally approve content during the creative production process. A key differentiator of Digital Asset Management compared to SharePoint is the DAM’s advanced metadata tagging with AI which enables content to be better structured with usage rights and keywords, making search enquiries more efficient.

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But a DAM is even more than this. It allows users the ability to crop and reformat files on the fly, such as automatically converting a video from a .MOV to a .AVI.  We also see that more companies are taking an active view of their content management technologies, using their DAM to seamlessly distribute creative assets from a single source of truth to third-party websites, external contractors, local outlets and other branded portals. This is done either through automated content delivery network (CDN) links, out of the box connectors with Adobe Creative Cloud, or web content management systems such as Drupal, WordPress, Sitecore or AEM. 

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And last but not least, DAM is used for the content development process.  That is, before a file becomes a ‘digital asset’, DAM is used to create the asset.  From creative templates that can be customized online with localized marketing messages, to granular workflow approvals, where content needs to be signed off before it’s downloaded or published - DAM is a critical part of the content lifecycle.

The core benefits of DAM are:

  1. Easy and searchable access to files
  2. Brand governance with creative proofing and approvals
  3. Advanced file management
  4. Seamless workflow approvals for internal and external stakeholders
  5. One-to-many content distribution via CDN networks
  6. Out of the box integrations with Web Content Management and other software tools

How is SharePoint used?

On the other hand, SharePoint is a development platform that enables teams or divisions within organizations to have sites or online spaces to collaborate and share files. If you have a small budget and a very limited use case, using SharePoint to store files may be the way to go.  

The key features of SharePoint include co-authoring of documents and basic document storage. SharePoint also has other features such as news, email integration and oftentimes is used as an Intranet. While it’s possible to have public sharing of digital content via a SharePoint site, oftentimes this is heavily regulated by IT departments, which makes it difficult for marketers to send core assets such as logos and final approved creative to external agencies. While workflow is also available within SharePoint, usually it’s not available out of the box and enabling it becomes a development project requiring a plugin and is not easy to configure nor out of the box. 

Benefits of SharePoint include:

  1. It’s sometimes already licensed, and therefore, offered at no additional costs
  2. Online collaboration and editing are excellent for general office documents
  3. Ability to segment files by groups in easy to use sites

DAM platform features:

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Can a DAM and SharePoint work together?

Yes. SharePoint is a key intranet tool in most large organizations and it’s part of the technical infrastructure landscape. The good news is that DAM and SharePoint can easily work together.  We have seen this work well, where general, internal files are stored in SharePoint. However, for advanced collaboration (such as externally sharing and distributing creative files, logos and brand guidelines) you will need to rely on a DAM platform.

Which should you use? 

When assessing if you should use DAM software or SharePoint, first start with a list of your top priorities and the problems you are trying to solve, while considering your budget and ROI. 

If your marketing team relies on content to drive revenue targets and you produce and manage a lot of it, SharePoint is generally not the right solution. That’s because it’s potentially slowing your marketing team down and not giving them access to a lot of DAM features that could significantly improve their productivity. 

However, if you are budget constrained and your use of marketing content is fairly simple, go with what’s there to get started. You can always migrate to a robust system to manage the entire lifecycle of your creative content when you are ready.

Want to know more about the IntelligenceBank DAM?

If you have SharePoint or you’re curious to know more about how a DAM works, our team is happy to discuss your business’s needs. We can answer your questions and provide more information so you’re better informed to make the right decision for your specific circumstances. Contact us to learn more.