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Today's marketing and creative teams often lack the resources or bandwidth to handle every aspect of their campaigns in-house. Even large enterprises with sizable budgets frequently find themselves turning to outside agencies or freelancers to provide specialized support.

Sometimes those engagements are simple, involving a single agency or point of contact working on a single project. In other cases, however, multiple parties all find themselves collaborating on a task for which everyone involved has to share content back and forth.

The rapid growth of hybrid and remote work environments has caused the complexity of such engagements to become even greater. Organizations must now think about how they can keep their remote employees connected to the resources they need while also maintaining smooth communication with third-party vendors.

For larger projects and long-term engagements, confusion and frustration can quickly undermine productivity unless a process is put in place to facilitate ongoing collaboration.

Challenges of Sharing Assets

One of the biggest challenges marketing teams face when working with outside collaborators is how to make their digital assets available in a way that's secure and easy to manage.

Cloud storage services have made collaboration across other business functions much easier, but platforms such as Google Drive and Dropbox were not specifically designed to meet the needs of creative teams.

Here are a few examples of common challenges related to sharing assets that frequently combine to undercut productivity in the hybrid workplace.

1. Permissions

Most Cloud storage platforms manage access to files based on user permissions. In theory, that is a perfectly reasonable approach that prevents people without authorization from opening or altering files.

When a company is collaborating with third parties outside the organization, however, that can quickly become a headache. Not every collaborator may have access to each platform, causing bottlenecks and confusion. Moreover, because organizations often use Cloud platforms to store more than just content, they need to be careful about how they grant permissions to avoid potential security issues.

User permissions must be carefully managed for everyone who needs access, and all the permissions need to be removed once the project is completed. If multiple platforms are being used to store and work with assets, it quickly becomes difficult to track who has access to what. Each time new collaborators join the team, a new set of permissions must be set up to give them access, which makes it more difficult for them to get their work underway.

2. Locating Assets

Even after access permissions have been sorted out, people involved with the project still need to be able to find the right assets for their current task. Unfortunately, Cloud storage platforms sometimes make that process far more difficult than it needs to be. Because of those platforms' rudimentary search functions and poor organizational tools, locating a specific file quickly is often difficult. That translates into inefficiency, frustration, and, at worst, missed deadlines.

All those challenges are made worse when each organization is using multiple Cloud platforms. Without a single source of truth for digital assets, collaborators frequently find themselves searching through multiple systems to locate the content they need. That only creates further delays.

There's also the potential security issue of having third parties rummaging through an organization's Cloud storage looking for assets and stumbling upon confidential data.

3. Content-Sharing

Sharing and receiving content can also prove to be difficult when multiple external collaborators are involved. Without a single source of truth for all content, it can be hard to know where assets need to be uploaded and what schema should be followed to keep them organized.

As files are uploaded, downloaded, then reuploaded into shared folders by several collaborators, there are ample opportunities for confusion and mistakes, resulting in unnecessary delays and duplicated work.

Distributing uploaded content also poses a challenge when multiple parties are involved. Granting access to individual assets stored on various shared platforms is both tedious and confusing, and it only serves to undermine productivity.

Content-sharing uncertainties are particularly dangerous because they can easily undermine version control. If collaborators are not entirely sure the asset they're working with is the most up-to-date version, they could end up duplicating work that's already been done, or failing to incorporate changes that were made on a previous version of a file.

Although it's possible to maintain version control manually with strict oversight, it takes only one person to grab the wrong file or mislabel another to create huge problems in content production.

Streamlining Digital Collaboration With DAM Software

Digital asset management (DAM) solutions can help organizations overcome collaboration challenges by creating a single source of truth for all digital assets while also making them easy to share and access. Rather than trying to store content such as high-resolution images, videos, and audio files across multiple storage services, organizations can instead set up their DAM platform to accommodate third-party collaborators.

Consolidating digital assets into a single location makes it much easier to manage permissions and limit potential security risks. Account administrators can simply grant privileges from a centralized control panel, allowing them to designate which external contributors can make edits and upload files and which can simply view and download assets. Such permissions enable teams to structure collaborative workflows that make it clear who has ownership over key steps of the content creation process.

Unlike most Cloud storage platforms, DAM solutions are specifically designed to make it easier to organize and locate digital assets. In addition to folders and albums that can be sorted in various ways, every file within the system can be located quickly by searching for metadata labels such as tags and keywords. Sophisticated DAM solutions can even tag content automatically using image recognition software.

Even if an asset isn't labeled correctly, it can still be found easily with a simple contextual search. That substantially reduces the amount of time it takes to retrieve content.

For collaborative projects involving multiple third-party contributors, DAM platforms make it much easier to share content and reduce version confusion. The most effective way to share assets is to create customized portals that provide access only to content that's relevant to the project at hand. Permissions can be fully integrated into the portal itself, instantly granting access to creative teams without having to manage account status individually. Since the customized portal connects only to assets related to the scope of work, there are minimal security concerns.

A DAM platform can also use shareable links to provide access to content or allow third-party collaborators to upload assets. That is especially useful for working on smaller projects when content needs to flow in only one direction. An agency or freelancer that provides images from a photo shoot, for instance, needs only the ability to upload content, not access the entire library.

DAM solutions make it easier than ever for organizations to receive and share assets in a digital-first world. They create a single source of truth that allows both internal and external collaborators to work together seamlessly and create memorable brand content that helps organizations communicate their story to the world.

To learn more about how DAM solutions such as Canto can transform the way your creative teams manage digital assets, sign up today for a free trial.

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Canto empowers marketers to spend more time doing what they love - building great brands. Our intuitive Digital Asset Management platform gives companies around the world a centralized location to collect, organize, and share all of their digital assets. This enables marketing and creative teams to streamline their workflow, increase asset velocity, and ensure that all colleagues and partners have access to the right content, on-demand, every time. Canto's corporate headquarters are in San Francisco, with offices in Berlin and Frankfurt.