Digital assets have become imperative for the success of most marketing and sales initiatives. All assets created and stored digitally, such as images, videos, pdfs, audio files, graphics, documents, pdfs, spreadsheets, presentations, design files, and similar other formats, are called digital assets. Every organization spends considerable dollars on creating and managing these assets; ensuring that these remain accessible and usable over time becomes essential.
The process of archiving involves storing these assets at the end of their life cycle in a place and in a manner that is not only cost-effective but which makes it easy to search and retrieve them at any given time.
Assets that have fulfilled their purpose or are no longer relevant are ideal candidates for archival. Archived assets are not visible in the primary asset repository or filing system but one can still access them for reuse or repurposing.
By archiving digital assets, organizations can protect their data from getting lost, becoming corrupt or unusable due to hardware failure or software obsolescence, or getting into the hands of unauthorized users. For example, if you own any old .pcx or .pic files that are no longer prevalent, you can convert them into a .jpg or a .png file before archiving them to ensure they can still be used.
Some of these pictures could be from the early days, such as pictures of the first office building or founders’ photographs, which one would want to keep for preserving the brand narrative and use during corporate celebrations or brand events.
Archiving also helps meet legal compliance or settle disputes regarding ownership or copyrights. Recreating new assets from archived images optimizes costs. Another benefit that has come to the limelight recently is that it is environmentally friendly, saving on power consumption and emissions.
What is digital asset archiving?
Digital asset archiving is the process of preserving and storing digital content, such as images, videos, and audio files, for future use. It involves data management, data storage, data migration, digital preservation, and metadata management.
Archiving may sound as simple as merely storing away unused assets for future reference or use but in practice, it involves strategy and planning and covers a range of activities.
You need to know what assets you want or need to retain and for how long.
What will be the method of storage and access?
How often should you audit and clean up your archive?
Should you auto-archive or auto-delete assets that meet certain criteria?
Archiving involves storing, preserving, and providing access. Storing involves moving the identified assets into a dedicated or cloud storage device. Preservation takes care of maintaining the digital assets accurately to ensure they remain authentic and usable. Access is about ensuring people have access to the assets as per their roles and responsibilities. So how does one start when looking for digital archiving?
The process and best practices of digital asset archiving
Assuming that you have a large volume of assets that you want to archive and would like to embark on the digital archiving process, you must consider the following elements to create an effective archival strategy:
1️⃣Identification of digital assets: You have to conduct an audit to assess the kind of assets (obsolete, irrelevant, decommissioned, etc.) you want to archive and for what duration.
2️⃣Metadata and documentation: For easy access, lay down the standard practices for categorizing, labeling, and metadata tagging for the digital assets.
3️⃣Preservation methods: The archived data must be accessible in the future. You may migrate the asset from older formats to newer formats or you could preserve the technology needed to use the digital asset.
4️⃣Access and disposal: Ensure secure file access for approved stakeholders. Determine the roles that should be given access to ensure there is no misuse of digital assets. Also, lay down the policies for the deletion of assets that are no longer needed to save on resources.
Once you have created a digital archival strategy, set up a process to ensure it works seamlessly. To begin with, you must identify the person who will own the process. Typically, if you are using a digital asset management system (DAM), it would be the DAM administrator. We recommend the following process for archival:
- Identify the assets to be archived as per the archival policies defined
- Review and process the assets to ensure they are cleaned up, in a usable format, and free of sensitive data or PII
- Create the preservation metadata, and migrate it to the appropriate format
- Move them to archival storage with proper identification and categorization
- Create access restrictions
- Review at regular intervals to assess updates and deletions
To get the best out of your archival program, ensure you adopt certain best practices. Similar to a file folder structure in your main filing system, you must determine how you will structure the archived assets. The folders and file structure should be standardized to ensure consistency and support intuitive search.
Aim for standardization of formats by considering questions around obsolescence, lossless formats, and avoiding the proliferation of a large number of formats which could get very complex.
For example, if it is a marketing folder structure that you are trying to create, you will have to create a folder structure based on the platform (like a website or social media), format (visuals or videos), etc.
Take care of security and rights management to protect your assets, including metadata, encryption, digital signatures, and access mechanisms. Lastly, choose the right archival system that suits your needs. For example, if your business is growing and you expect large volumes of assets that need to be archived, you can opt for a cloud-based archival system.
Why choose a cloud-based system for digital asset archiving?
The choice between a cloud-based archival system versus an on-premises solution is a no-brainer. While there are advantages and disadvantages to both, cloud-based solutions win in nearly every criterion.
On-prem systems are probably best suited for organizations that have
- Minimal archival requirements
- Do not expect to grow much in the future.
- Require high security or compliance
- Need customization
- Are localized in their operations.
However, archival systems are a capital investment. They need hardware and software and a dedicated staff to manage and maintain it.
In contrast, a cloud-based solution offers far too many advantages. With a subscription model, organizations:
- Don’t need to make heavy investments in buying infrastructure
- Can scale without worrying about exhausting or underutilizing storage as resources can be pulled or released on demand
- Don’t have to hire an archival specialist, because the vendor provides all the backing you need to run the system including software upgrades
- Take advantage of the advanced security features that cloud vendors are able to offer
How to choose the right cloud-based solution for digital asset archiving?
When choosing a cloud-based solution for digital asset archiving, consider your specific needs and goals and consider the following factors:
✅ Features and functionalities: Check out the different file formats and media types that the system can support. Is it future-ready to store any upcoming new kinds of digital assets? Does it offer enhanced search capabilities and retrieval options?
✅ Security: Choose solutions that offer holistic security features, such as threat detection, multi-factor authentication, and encryption.
✅ Compliance: The solution must assure compliance with relevant standards and regulations. On-premise solutions provide better control over compliance but most cloud providers have the expertise to provide comprehensive compliance across different regulations.
✅ User-friendly and supports integration: Opt for solutions that are easy to use and can be integrated with the workflows from other data management systems in the organization. A user-friendly, intuitive interface and advanced search function such as query in place are some of the features to look out for.
✅ Pricing: Cloud providers offer a range of flexible pricing plans and are able to scale up to new demands quickly, at affordable rates.
✅ Support: Check out the kind of support the provider gives, which could include hosting, maintenance, configuration, and others.
✅ AI and automation: Integrating AI and automation capabilities in an archival system can bring in the benefits of automated workflows, auto-tagging of assets, metadata management, usage analytics, and more.
Digital Asset Management: A logical choice for digital archiving
Many organizations choose to use a cloud-based DAM software to manage their archival because it provides a holistic way of managing all your digital assets, the creative workflow can be integrated with the archival workflow with the result that you can auto-archive assets from DAM’s main repository to the archive based on the policies that you define.
Similarly, one can restore assets from the archive into the main library for reuse or manipulation. DAM offers features such as tiered storage management and automated archival workflows, data backup, sync functions, restricted access, bulk compressions, and other features that support the archival process very well.
To summarize, organizations need to have an archival policy for their digital assets because it enhances the value of the assets ensuring they are accessible and usable at any time. It maintains historical data ensuring the brand narrative of an organization is preserved, and optimizes cost as the need to migrate to new technologies is reduced.
Keep in mind that, successful asset archival needs strategic thinking.
Several factors must be considered when choosing an archival system to ensure it meets the needs of the organizations without the burden of cost or additional infrastructure that is hard to manage. A cloud-based DAM is the best option for meeting archival needs because many of its capabilities aid the archiving process.
If you are exploring solutions to meet your archival needs, check out ImageKit, a cloud-based digital asset management software that can manage your creative assets and archive them in addition to providing a host of other capabilities. To know more, visit us at our website or reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org