Digital Asset Management Software vs Dropbox
What is Dropbox? How does it compare to DAM software?
Is a simple tool like Dropbox good enough to manage your working files? Or, do you need the amped-up structure, functionality and horsepower of a Digital Asset Management (DAM) solution?
Roosevelt famously said “Comparison is the thief of joy”. But if you’re reading this, We’re betting your search for a Digital Asset Management system means you’re either (a) starting out or (b) starting to get out of control. If you chose (b), comparison, in this instance, will stop you and your team from losing your minds. Digital Asset Management software has some distinct advantages over Dropbox, but they are not for everyone. This article will help you understand what each solution can do for you and the pros and cons of each.
Summary of Dropbox and Digital Asset Management software:
Launched in 2007, it’s a low cost, tried and tested cloud-based file management tool. Think of a large filing cabinet that allows people with access to view, upload, download and share links to files. Dropbox is great for small to medium organisations with moderate amounts of file inventory. Option (a) people – this is where you live. A Digital Asset Management system may be overkill.
Taking off over the last 10 years, Digital Asset Management systems grew from a need from big business MarCom Managers for more than a place to ‘drop’ and share files. Having banks of high-res finished art, images and video, and a ton of stakeholders, regulations and processes, they needed a cloud-synced storage solution with more granularity and grunt than Dropbox. But more than that, they needed a centralized system with smart tools and the ability to click into other apps in their tech stack. This is precisely the need Digital Asset Management software fills.
Dropbox and Digital Asset Management software – Key Differences:
File Setup and Visiability
Dropbox uses a familiar file structure like Finder or Explorer. You can identify what is in each folder by whatever name you or your colleagues gave it.
A Digital Asset Management (DAM) system is much more than just a sharable file structure. A Digital Asset Management system is a dedicated online portal that not only organizes your creative assets with large visual thumbnail displays of the content, but a sophisticated DAM enables briefing, proofing, markups, approvals, automation, granular search and editable templates.
A file in Dropbox is what it is. A file in a Digital Asset Management system can be downloaded in multiple different formats and sizes at the click of a button. A DAM gives non-technical non-design types total control to serve themselves and avoids wasting creative team resources on minor requests. Creative files housed in a Digital Asset Management system can also be downloaded to preset dimensions; for example web tiles that can be easily dropped into your CMS.
While Dropbox is no slacker and can cope with many different kinds of files – it has its limits. Attempting to house large volumes of rich media such as B-roll video slabs and vast catalogs of high-res photographic and design assets on Dropbox has whiskers all over it. Digital Asset Management systems on the other hand, are custom built to not only handle size, but sophisticated file types.
Workflow and Sharing
A Digital Asset Management system allows you to set up step by step processes from project creation to launch and PCA with safeguards to make sure your team doesn’t miss important checkpoints. A good DAM is highly customizable and can integrate workflows that include brand personality and briefing templates to compliance approvals, critical time paths, budgets, refinements and usage rights. Digital Asset Management software can even automatically populate pre-loaded standard mandatories such as terms and conditions, privacy policies and other regulatory disclaimers.
In fact, top DAM solutions will enable connections to third party Apps such as InDesign, After Effects and good old fashioned PowerPoint to seamlessly integrate and create.
When your files are within a Digital Asset Management system, project owners have control over sharing and editing permissions as well as visibility on those edits, stakeholder approvals, version control and user tracking. Dropbox sharing links cannot provide the same intel and depending on your plan, share links expire. As it’s a pure online filing system with a broad permission system that begins and ends with the ability to edit, view, share and comment, Dropbox has no other comparable features.
By streamlining and automating processes within a DAM, your team is freed up to focus on getting on with creating great work.
Search, Metadata Tagging and AI
This is where Digital Asset Management systems shine. Although you can hunt Dropbox for folders and files by entering keywords in a search bar, there are limited granular filters. And, if you have a lot of similarly named files – good luck! Unless you have tightly managed naming protocols and a memory like an elephant, Dropbox will retrieve a whole lot of ‘same-same but different’ files. It’s messy and time consuming and…grrrr… “is this even the latest version?”. When/if you find your file, it stands alone with no supporting information.
A DAM search allows you to explore rich descriptions of tags associated with your asset as well as file type, author and date. These tags are known as metadata. Picture this…you’re trying to find an image on your DAM from a cruelty free campaign your predecessor ran three years ago as you’d like to reuse it. It’s an asset made up of a number of different elements; a bunny, talent and an illustration of a Bunsen burner. Your predecessor, bless her, not only filled in descriptive tags in the metadata fields attached to the file, she noted the photographer, illustrator and talent usage rights plus the fact the bunny was sourced from a stock library with a licence to use in perpetuity. Information contained in a file’s metadata is one of the core reasons companies opt for Digital Asset Management software. Not only does a Digital Asset Management system help you find documents quickly, but saves hours of resources.
And in case you weren’t excited about that, the recent integration of AI and facial recognition on some DAM platforms allows users to find groups of images that have been cleverly pre-tagged with zero effort from your team. That’s got to be better than fishing around a filing system of assets hoping for the best.
Both Dropbox and Digital Asset Management systems offer two-factor authentication and encryption. DAMs of course, go the extra mile with data storage security, firewall protection, proactive monitoring and penetration tests. Data security is the number one priority at IntelligenceBank. Digital Asset Management software can also be set to allow various levels of permission to access, view and edit. This is particularly useful when dealing with external partners such as agencies who may only need access to some parts of your Digital Asset Management system.
Dropbox has generic call center style support during business hours. As a Digital Asset Management system is a bigger play, DAMs generally offer a much more personalised service. Digital Asset Management providers offer training and customization services managed by a dedicated Account Manager with 24/7 tech support
As a DAM is a much bigger play, Dropbox is cheaper than a Digital Asset Management system. Like anything in life, Digital Asset Management prices vary depending on your needs and the quality of what you’re buying. Check out our guide on DAM Cost Factors, as well as a dipstick on entry level pricing.
Will a DAM deliver ROI?
Any company investing in a Digital Asset Management system must receive a material return to switch from a base system like Dropbox. For large companies with many of stakeholders, processes and regulations – let alone volumes of files – that ROI comes via time, sanity and asses saved. Staff using a Digital Asset Management system will be way less frustrated, be firmly in the good books from a compliance point of view and ultimately have the space and tools to produce great work.