Guru Call: Brazil

Looking for a Guru in Brazil region.  Newbie is seeking a cloud-based digital asset management solution. Emphasis on archiving and cataloging video assets. Newbie speaks English, Spanish and Portuguese.

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Guru Talk: Nigel Cliffe – The Marketing Lab Ltd

Nigel-Cliffe

With loads of experience helping multiple clients find success in the digital asset management space, Cliffe examines the many aspects of what constitutes a successful DAM implementation.

What companies/organizations have you worked for as a DAM professional? What was your role at each?

Most of my 17 years experience has come from providing clients with DAM solutions of one sort or another, including system provision or consultancy. These have mainly been from my own company or with partners. In my first company, Leaf Frog Communications, we managed the DAM requirements for many of the UK’s foremost financial services organizations, one of which I still manage to this day.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

It largely depends on who I am talking to! At the bottom end I liken it to sorting your photograph album. At the top end I can describe it as the base they probably don’t know exists for all content media management. One thing we haven’t yet got sorted in our industry is a common definition – I think that has held us back.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

I was a very early adopter of the acronym – if I recall, back in ’95. As the world began to move into multi-channel communications (as opposed to ‘just’ print) I realized someone, somewhere, would need to take central control and version control of, as was then, still image assets. I often recall the days when, in an early digital photography studio that dealt heavily in the retail sector, we used to photograph the same items day in day out for press releases, before the concept of storing the image became a reality. It seems completely bonkers looking back, but I guess I came through the roots, so learned it from the ground up. Today I learn most things from webinars, blogs and discussion forums.

What’s the most important thing for someone new to DAM to understand about DAM?

DAM is only useful when inside a workflow. If it remains a repository alone its commercial benefit will be short-lived. (To add: DAM has to make the grade in the boardroom. Start working out how you will satisfy the FD and you may well have the secret for success).

If you weren’t doing DAM as a career, what would you be doing?

I haven’t concentrated entirely on DAM as a career. I call myself a Marketing Technologist which embraces many more facets of digital technology. DAM for me, however, is at the very root of all content marketing.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

The acronym itself. You can be amongst very bright technically savvy marketers and find that they have never heard of the expression. We still have a long way to go in developing a universal understanding of the role DAM plays in a world exploding with content.

What is your vision for DAM? What will it look like in 5 years?

The biggest problem for DAM is well structured meta data and a taxonomy to accompany it. As devices become more sophisticated at adding meta data on the fly we will find the value of DAM increasing. Imagine a ‘content scanner’ that can identify content and automatically add meta data on the fly – the device, the location, the content, the mood, the sentiment perhaps? DAM will form its own brain, added to iteratively over time. The brain will pick up new facets about old data based on new information it receives, making any repository more valuable as time passes. Perhaps my old photograph albums will be able to tag themselves?

What was your biggest mistake with regard to DAM?

Expecting that by the 2005 everyone would know what DAM meant and be adopting it as a core discipline! It’s been along educational role and I see no end in sight.

What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?

Holding on to a client for 17 years!

What more would you like to learn about DAM?

I find case studies of real implementations of DAM to be the most valuable learning experiences. Especially when they are told with honesty. Unfortunately many horror stories go untold because of the embarrassing fall out. Perhaps a ‘show and tell’ anonymous blog might do the trick?

What tips would you give anyone adopting a strategy for DAM?

Start simple. Move forward from today and don’t look back too far. Find some early wins. Leave no department untouched. DAM impacts everyone, leave no-one out.

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Guru Call: Australia

Looking for a Guru in Australia. Newbie works within the commercial sector and would like to find a DAM system to help organize their internal files and assets. Interested in a program or software that remains on company servers. Newbie speaks English.

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Guru Talk: Kimberlee Bush – Evergreene Graphics

Digital Imaging Specialist III

Armed with a graphic design background and experience in marketing, Bush has a unique perspective on DAM.

What companies/organizations have you worked for as a DAM professional? What was your role at each?

From 1997-2013 I worked at The Raymond Corporation, an electric forklift truck manufacturer, in the Marketing Communications department. One of my major roles included project management to research, select, and launch an enterprise DAM solution. Following installation, I transitioned to a project administrator role. This included defining taxonomy, keywords, asset ingestion, training documentation and user training, troubleshooting, and ongoing system management with the vendor and internal IT department.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

I learned DAM by conducting online research, reading books on DAM and content management, attending multiple DAM Symposium workshops and seminars, plus a taxonomy workshop. I also participated in vendor specific training from intro level to administrator training. In conjunction with the major DAM project I managed, I was also finishing my masters degree at RIT, and I chose DAM as my thesis project in order to use the data as a primary source for my research. One of my best go-to sources was The Journal of Digital Asset Management, edited by Michael Moon.

What’s the most important thing for someone new to DAM to understand about DAM?

From my experience with DAM, it is critical to understand how to prove the application’s value to someone not familiar with the industry. Because DAM is often considered a supporting or ancillary service, companies may not approve additional resources needed to take full advantage of its capabilities. Being able to prove its value in a business environment may mean the difference between manual file search and storage, and an information rich, self-service application, with all the data to support its use and value.

If you weren’t doing DAM as a career, what would you be doing?

Before, during, and after my role as a DAM project manager and administrator, I am a professional graphic designer. I had the unusual advantage of managing a DAM project from the creative side, rather than the IT side. I was able to influence the project from a creative user viewpoint, rather than an IT perspective. DAM systems are traditionally managed by an IT Department, whose members have a completely different mindset, and understanding of DAM, than creatives.

What more would you like to learn about DAM?

Since I have left my employer and started my own business, I would like to learn more about single-user DAM applications for small businesses. I am still a graphic designer, creating and/or purchasing assets every week. I need a small application to help me manage and find my assets quickly.

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Guru Talk: Romney Whitehead – Net-A-Porter Group

Head of Digital Content Platforms

Working in publishing and e-commerce sectors, Romney Whitehead has  a depth of knowledge that comes from decades of experience in the digital asset management field.

What companies/organizations have you worked for as a DAM professional? What was your role at each?

As with many digital asset managers I ‘accidentally’ came to my role after working on the picture desk at BBC magazines. In 1999, they began a DAM initiative—one of the first in the UK for publishing—and I was the champion for it within the Radio Times Magazine area. For me, it was plain to see the future lay with DAM, so I asked to be more involved with the program, and moved over into the project. The rest, as they say, is history.

After over ten years in the role at the BBC, I then moved to e-commerce company Net-A-Porter Group, firstly as digital asset manager and now as manager of the content platforms and digital asset lifecycle, including DAM,CMS, print and digital publishing. With the huge variety and volume of assets the company produces, this continues to be a very challenging role and very different from the publishing and brand management area but equally enjoyable.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

This can be a difficult thing, lots of people think you work in financial areas, many just adopt a blank look, others will ask the question you are expecting which is, “what exactly do you do?”

The easiest way I have found to explain DAM to the layperson is to make it relevant to them. Most people will take hundreds of pictures on their smart phones or cameras and then upload them to a computer or cloud storage. I then ask them of they could find a single image within those many pictures of the most memorable moment of their last holiday or special occasion. Are those pictures generally labelled 001.jpg or dsc_234.jpg? How do you find that one image or video within the many that have been accumulated over the years?

I then tell them about metadata, (nothing too in depth), and wouldn’t it be great if you had all your ‘stuff’ in one central place that you could search and find, and then perhaps share through email or social media, and maybe you could even rate your photos as the best or worse, and put them into collections etc.

I tend to stop there, as there is only so much a DAM newbie or regular person can take in the first 15 minutes of meeting me; but often thats enough to help explain things in a simple way that they grasp and mostly then show an interest in learning more

What is your vision for DAM? What will it look like in 5 years?

The world of DAM has evolved so much over the many years I have worked in it that I hardly recognise it as the place I began. Where in the past it was all about central repository, some metadata, and search and retrieval (which it still is), now I have to consider the content creation, storage, distribution, publishing, curation and archive path as well as infrastructure. DAM systems have become monoliths within some companies, moving away from their core initial requirements and dipping into areas that may have traditionally been managed by adjacent systems such as production or editing or rich media tools. The volume of vendors has stretched from the traditional DAMs into companies such as Adobe selling DAM, or online storage tools such as Dropbox or Google Drive entering the picture. This has blurred the lines for digital asset managers, and whilst the role has become more recognised as a ‘real job’, it is also far from the job it was 10, or even 5 years ago.

I think this trend will continue, where perhaps there will be fewer DAM specialists and DAM-specific software. The title of Digital Asset Manager may have become more recognised, but I think it will also change in what a person in that role looks like and does on a daily basis. If they work within a commercial company, they will need to be much more concerned with not only asset types changing, the volume of digital assets ever increasing, the nuances of metadata and businesses expecting a greater ROI quicker; they will also need to be up to speed with storage, integration with adjoining systems, commissioning and sales.

What I would like to see personally is DAM evolving into a more valuable repository in terms of the content stored within it. Instead of offering businesses just an area they can put every single asset they produce—hundreds of pictures from a photo shoot, many hours of video rushes that will never get used—I would like digital asset managers to understand and follow best practices of curation, but for that curation to be part of the responsibility of commissioners. If they encouraged a ‘curate before create’ attitude, then the value of the final asset would be much greater and fewer assets would lie dormant within a system, therefore making the whole system and process more cost efficient.

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Guru Talk: Klaus Sonnenleiter – PrintedArt

Klaus-Sonnenleiter

Having worked with digital assets since the beginning, Sonnenleiter understands it’s all about workflow.

What companies/organizations have you worked for as a DAM professional? What was your role at each?

I worked as the primary software architect at a company called “The Media Machine”, which was one of the early DAM vendors in the mid 90s with possibly the first fully web based DAM product. I then worked in network management for about 10 years before returning to the general vicinity of digital assets, now running my own company PrintedArt (http://www.printedart.com) that maintains a fine art photography collection and production service.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

A little bit like a good closet organizing system. It’s not your most attractive piece of furniture, it’s deeply hidden from everybody else, and even on a good day, you need it only once. But if it’s not working, you’ll know immediately.

What’s the most important thing for someone new to DAM to understand about DAM?

In most cases, it is not your primary business, but serves in a supporting role. Digital assets need to not be a problem so that the rest of your business can spend its energy where it is needed. For example, if you maintain a set of images for publishing, you don’t want to spend your time worrying about getting the images into publish-ready state. Similarly, if you have digital assets for sale in an online store, your solution needs to handle the workflow of accepting new inventory, tagging it for sale, promoting it and pushing inventory through the customers’ shopping carts without constant manual interference. So whichever solution you pick needs to be deeply integrated into your company’s operating processes.

If you weren’t doing DAM as a career, what would you be doing?

I’m not sure – maybe write open source software; or work as a ski instructor; or I might return to my roots as a journalist.

What is your vision for DAM? What will it look like in 5 years?

It will be fully embedded. Most people have too many things on their watch list as it is and they don’t want yet another thing to look after, now that they already need to worry about their network infrastructure, the health of their cloud service provider, their social media presence, their marketing channels and so many other things. Digital assets will continue to be managed, but they will be managed inside a larger solution that handles marketing activities, sales platforms, publishing channels or whatever the primary activity of the company is.

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