Your technology team has spent a lot of time and energy putting together a digital asset management (DAM) solution. You’ve conducted user interviews, vetted technology, selected a vendor, and launched the new system … but why isn’t everyone using it?

To effectively manage our digital assets in today’s global markets, we need a DAM solution at the heart of our marketing organization. DAM enables our global teams to maintain brand consistency so customers know exactly what to expect when they interact with our brand. They let us collaborate on the production of new marketing assets and then allow us to store them centrally so everyone who needs access to the latest content can get it. DAM solutions let us create, manage, and deliver our digital assets and are a necessity in today’s global market. But now that we’ve invested time and energy into DAM, how do we get people to use them?

“Excuse me, I think you have my stapler.” In this classic line from the movie Office Space, Milton, a software company employee, resists the company’s transition to new staplers and refuses to relinquish his favorite office tool. People develop attachments to old tools and resist change, especially when those changes don’t appear to have value. By understanding why people resist change, we can put strategies in place to increase the success of our DAM solutions.

People resist change for many reasons:

  1. Why? They do not understand why the change is being made. They feel they are losing control or the change is being made without their input.
  2. Fear of failure. People may fear they will be incompetent with a new tool and resist using it.
  3. Break out of our comfort zones. People have developed comfortable routines with the old tool and resist the change.
  4. Soup du jour. People believe a new tool is just a fad and will not have long-term staying power.
  5. What’s in it for me? People don’t see any benefit or reward from the change.


We all like to be in control of our environments, and when a change is made, we want to know why. When there is a change in the workplace, we all want to know what prompted management to implement this new tool and what benefits we are going to see. If we do not see any benefit to the change, we may feel that the change is being made just for the sake of change, or even worse: just for the sake of technology. We all want to feel like we are in control and know the what, where, and when of the change. When thinking of a larger DAM initiative, we must make sure all of the right stakeholders are at the table from the beginning. From the team leader to the individual user, all stakeholders must know how it will improve their specific day-to-day experience. Tell them why, and then prove it.

Fear of Failure

Change can make us doubt our capabilities and fear using the new tool. If there is a chance of failure, we tend to procrastinate. For example, a DAM gives users unprecedented access to an organization’s digital assets, and a user might fear mistakenly editing an image or video and thus damaging the shared asset. We often let our imaginations run away with us with all the negative possibilities of change. Reassure your team about the safeguards in the new system, from permission-based access controls to automatic versioning and version control. Users should feel safe operating in the system and be productive.

Break Out of Our Comfort Zones

We all have patterns and routines that make our lives comfortable. We place our toothbrushes in the same place each day so we can easily reach them, we place icons on our desktop in locations where we can find them quickly, and we place our shoes by the door so they will be available when we leave. In the world of DAM, a routine might be to email an asset rather than collaborate in a system better suited for comments, annotations, and review. Or it could be to stash a file locally in a folder because you lack the right tools to secure it in a connected environment.

Realizing the benefits to the larger organization of a change requires an individual to break out of his or her prescribed routine. Understanding these “comfort zones” can give you an advantage as you roll out a DAM implementation. Make it simple and use the right people, policies, and technology to ensure that the transition is natural and requires an appropriate amount of effort.

Soup du Jour

We must avoid introducing changes too frequently because employees can become blasé. They look at each change as the “soup du jour” and begin to ignore them, knowing there will be a new change served up tomorrow.

Here is a trick we learned from a large entertainment company that implemented DAM. They treated the DAM tool like a nightclub. They essentially placed a velvet rope around a core group of users until adoption took off. Next, they rolled it out to additional groups, very strategically until the “soup du jour DAM” became the de facto standard for storing and managing digital assets.

What’s in It for Me?

Finally, many times people need to see the reason for the change. If a new tool is introduced and it will require them to first learn how to use it and then will increase the amount of work they have to do, they will resist the change. When we introduce DAM, we must do so by clearly demonstrating the benefits of the DAM tool and how it will help each employee do his or her everyday job. We can use demonstrations and spend time one-on-one with employees showing them its benefits.

There are many reasons why we might not use that DAM tool, but there are strategies to follow. To increase the DAM tool’s chance of successful implementation, we must clearly demonstrate the benefits, train and support our employees, communicate the plan, and dispel misconceptions. By addressing why people fear change, we can implement a DAM strategy that will help us be competitive in today’s global market.