As adults, we all worked on computers long enough to know what the term “digital” means. We also spent enough time on the money to understand the nature of the asset. But combine these two terms into “digital assets” and most people will be surprised. Ask them to define “digital assets” and you’ll probably end up with nothing.
But whether we know it or not, most of us own a lot of digital assets. In most cases, these digital assets have been acquired for a long-forgotten task and are now idle on hard drives, CDs and servers of our businesses… effectively collecting dust digitally. We don’t know that these dark warehouses of the IT world have a lot of valuables that will come in handy again.
Before reusing these assets, it may be helpful to more clearly define the nature of the digital asset. In fact, digital assets are assets that your business owns digitally. How obvious is that? Seriously, nothing should be more complicated. In its most true form, digital assets are files and raw data sets owned by your business and which have a legal right to use for domestic purposes or to sell or lease to a third party. This includes database information, intellectual property, transaction data, multimedia content, and other valuable digital information.
Mind you, I said, “… valuable.” Not all digital “things” are considered assets. In fact, most of what might initially be considered a digital asset on closer inspection is actually a digital bond.
Thus, the first step to reusing your digital assets is the unenviable task of separating grain from chaff, good from bad, useful from useless and precious from useless. In fact, find and catalog potential assets, and throw the rest away. It’s just complicated and nerve-wracking, but if someone doesn’t have the wisdom to effectively catalog business data stores from the start, you have no choice but to do it at home.
Fortunately, there are many programs that will help you recover, catalog, and access that data. A small online study will reveal many products suitable for almost any digital asset management task.
Since this data is being reviewed and catalogued, it probably makes sense to continue to ask this important question: Does it have potential value for us or for someone else? If the answer is yes, save it and catalog it. Otherwise you will devastate it.
Once this work is completed, you should have a pretty clear idea of the digital assets of your business. The next step is to use them to improve your business results. As mentioned earlier, these assets will be useful for three reasons: for sale, lease or internal use.
Review the data you’ve cataloged and classify it by selling, renting or using for internal purposes. For those that you can sell or rent out, such as customer data, research, and contact with companies that may be interested in your data. If they don’t want to, they probably know someone who wants to. With a bit of luck and a little effort, you can potentially turn these dusty old data into a big contribution to net profit.
For elements of inner value, such as graphics and photo files, your work becomes part of communication, awareness, and easy access. In other words, you need to educate people in your business about what digital assets are, where they can be found, and how easy it is to find them. There is no definite answer as to how to do this, but it is important that this happen. Otherwise, your hard-earned assets will go to the dark warehouses of the IT world where they came from.
This brings us to the last important step in reusing your company’s digital assets: service and content. Now that you have a complete library and directory of your assets, it would be ridiculous not to add new assets to the collection as they become available. It would also be nice to clear assets that no longer have value for business. The idea is that your asset library is clean, up-to-date and easily accessible.
The obvious, but often overlooked, positive characteristic of digital assets over tangible assets is their eternal longevity. If you do it right, the digital photo you’re cataloging today won’t be any different from this year’s annual report than it will be hanging on the wall of your company’s lunar headquarters in 50 years.
So take the time to collect, categorize and catalog these resources today. In the years to come you and many others will be very happy that you have done so.
Author and small business owner Mark Stevens has written various articles on how to effectively use video in a sales and marketing mix and how to deal with the large amounts of data that accumulate in the multimedia production process. He has owned Spot Productions in Green Bay, Wisconsin, for over 9 years.