Today’s businesses have not yet attained the much-ballyhooed goal of the paperless office. We do know that the amount of paper businesses produce has decreased substantially. Just ask file cabinet manufacturers. Their sales are down considerably and are at their lowest in the most computerized nations. Recycling boosters, efficiency experts and even some newly disciplined paper pushers themselves can share congratulations for the improvement. Of course, while saving some trees, making printer ink last longer and switching to online faxing is all well and good, the fact is that paper use may be down but the amount of information businesses need to store is up. It just has to be stored some other way, as digital files on hard disks, DVD-Rs, tape backups and online storage.
Thegrowth of digital assets has changed the modern office. There are more computers, network storage devices and backup equipment than file cabinets now. Even companies that are not involved in publishing, the arts or the media might have product catalogs to both print and post on their Web sites. In-house advertising and marketing departments (to say nothing of ad and marketing agencies) have a tremendous amount of art, typefaces, software programs and other digital assets even before they start creating things. While it is true that firms are saving money on paper, they are now spending it on various kinds of storage media. If they didn’t make a plan to handle it with some sort of DAM (Digital Asset Management) procedures, they may have less paper but more confusion.
Managing bits and bytes
For some companies the transition from Computer Age to Online Age, meaning the change between the early 1990s and now, caught them off-guard. They did not see where things were going, something many of us are guilty of, and did not pause along the way to devise a DAM plan. A DAM program can be as simple as a single network storage device allowing a one-person operation to have all its clip art, fonts, photographs and finished pieces (ads, brochures, audio files, whatever) in one handy place. Adding another hard drive to the mix for backups, externally or in the network storage device, completes a bare bones DAM system.
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