7 Steps Every Small Business Should Follow to Protect its Digital Assets



Small businesses are producing and acquiring more digital assets than ever before. A company’s digital assets can be just as valuable as its physical property. In addition, companies now face new challenges and liabilities with the rise of everything digital, from data security to changing privacy regulations to employees posting information on social media. It’s crucial that you start focusing on protecting your company’s digital assets, not just physical assets or cash.


Useful Digital Assets for Small Businesses


Digital assets are pieces of content that are stored digitally and are valuable to a business. These are the most common types:

  • Website and blog content

  • Client and customer lists and contact information

  • Logos and other graphics

  • Photos

  • Videos – for customers or internal for training

  • Slide decks, such as PowerPoint presentations

  • PDFs

  • Excel spreadsheets

  • Word documents

  • Audio files

  • Ideas, procedures, checklists

Some digital assets are more valuable than others. For example, customer lists are a crucial asset for a sales company. Businesses spend many years acquiring customers and building relationships. If a key employee were to go to a competitor with all of the information in your customer list, it could potentially be devastating your company’s competitive edge and profitability.


Another example are videos and photos from a one-time event can’t be replaced. Small businesses often pay a licensing fee for the right to use a photo or video. If the company can’t find the asset, the only options are to pay for another licensing fee, which is a waste of money.


Another example is a digital user manual or e-book that contains a variety of assets, such as images, diagrams, and charts. When you are creating a project like this, having an effective digital asset management solution in place will save you a lot of time and money.


What is digital asset management?


Digital asset management encompasses guidelines and best practices for storing, protecting and sharing digital files among members of a business’ team. DAM includes not just what you see when you open your files but also the information underlying them, including metadata. DAM governs the cloud systems to which your team uploads and stores its work, enables the sending of digital assets to other parties, and builds the backbone of most modern companies.


How does digital asset management help businesses?


Internal


Digital asset ownership is sometimes unclear. As a result, disputes can arise if a business owner dies or an employee wants to reuse content that they created. It’s important to create internal documentation for digital asset ownership and take steps to protect your intellectual property rights.


Content rights should be specified in employee and business contracts, as part of email signatures, and on websites and blogs. Business owners should also clearly document all rights, accounts, usernames/ passwords, and passing of ownership with an estate planning attorney.


Small businesses need to organize, store and share the digital resources of a company. That’s because different teams, channels, and departments need to store and share creative assets – such as documents, videos, images, podcasts, and media in other formats – to accomplish the organization’s goals.


In an era defined by digital communication and remote work, effectively managing digital assets is the only real way to adequately streamline your team’s workflow. Without managing your digital assets, you can’t easily find, share and collaborate with documents among your team.


External


To reach potential and existing customers, small businesses use digital assets – such as images, videos, blogs, and other forms of media – in marketing campaigns. As such, small businesses need DAM systems to find these assets quickly and, in turn, create, track, organize, and distribute them.


Steps to Protect Digital Assets


How to protect your company’s digital assets:

  1. Create a digital inventory. The first step of proper digital asset protection is recognizing everything that has value for your business. Then create a detailed inventory of it all, including what’s stored where – in the cloud, on an employee’s smart phone or electronic device, or on a computer desktop.

  2. Prioritize the most important information. You’ll also need to create a list of whether these assets have any type of password protection in place or similar restrictions. Compile a list of this information and you’ll be able to better assess which areas need improvement or added security. Finally, make sure you have legal protections in place, often in employment contracts and email signatures, that further protect them.

  3. Backup everything regularly. Backing up your files – meaning saving everything in multiple locations – is now even easier with cloud storage. You can even double up by backing up on a cloud platform that can be accessed anywhere there is an Internet connection, like Dropbox, plus saving it again on an external hard drive.

  4. Include digital considerations in NDAs. Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) are fairly standard for companies, but changes in the digital realm bring new must-haves in these agreements. Make sure you address digital assets head-on by making it clear in NDAs that if proprietary digital products or information is shared or claimed by an employee, there could be legal ramifications.

  5. Copyright and trademark protection. Just because online content is subject to copyright law doesn’t always mean that ownership will be black and white in a courtroom. Take protections a step further by trademarking your company’s logo or registering online content for copyright protection. Any processes your company uniquely creates can also be patented. Discussing options with a legal professional is always a good first step when considering registrations of this nature.

  6. Hire and consult with experts. Jobs in the realm of digital asset protection exist to address these issues. In addition to educating employees about the risks that online interactions bring – and if your company has a great deal of unique digital assets – it may be a good idea to invest in a new position. DAM experts will be able to implement security measures more easily and manage accessibility. These professionals will also be able to ensure that any regulations and industry best practices are being followed.

  7. Integrate DAM software. Consider purchasing DAM software. Files can be easily searched and stored in these platforms. This software can be used to manage all media content, such as photos and videos, and can assist companies in managing necessary outgoing permission requests or incoming inquiries.

By using digital asset management systems, processes and tools, small businesses can boost productivity, improve collaboration, save time, and reduce costs. Here are some of the ways small businesses benefit from a digital asset management system:

  • Clarify who owns digital assets crucial to your business

  • Stop losing digital assets created by your team

  • Saving time by integrating DAM processes or software into existing workflows

  • Adding a layer of protection from theft and privacy with cloud-based DAM systems

  • Improving efficiency by having a system or software in place for managing your digital assets

  • Increasing productivity with faster deployment of marketing materials and campaigns

  • Easily accessing assets for team members and co-workers from one centralized location

  • Fine-tuning how assets are uploaded and distributed, such as by setting expiration dates and file permissions

  • Ensuring brand consistency by reducing the chances of someone using an older version of branded materials across campaigns and channels

  • Saving time and money by reusing assets

As data security and storage technologies evolve, the ways you approach managing and protecting digital assets need to be updated regularly. And businesses must consider digital assets in accounting, cybersecurity, and legal ways. It’s your property. Protect it.


At Fiffik Law Group, P.C., our business attorneys assist business owners with a variety of legal needs. Get in touch today to learn more.

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