Guru Talk: Irina Guseva – DAM Counselor

Irina Guseva - Digital Asset Management Counselor

Having the benefit of exposure to many different digital asset management systems, Guseva understands that success is more often measured by the value a company places on the staffing and change management with a new DAM system, as opposed to the software selected.

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

My career in DAM started when it wasn’t called Digital Asset Management yet, and when I published my first article in a local newspaper at the age of 12. I brought a paper-based asset to go along with that article – a photograph I took on my great uncle’s Zenit, and then processed and printed (all by hand) with him in a bathroom “studio,” deep down in the middle of (really) nowhere, in a small Siberian town.

Later, I worked as a journalist in print, radio and TV, and eventually online, getting exposure and experience with various content management technologies like MAM, DAM, ECM, WCM, etc, in various roles and capacities.

I’ve also implemented or managed implementations of DAM systems, researched and analyzed the DAM marketplace and vendors/software. As an independent DAM consultant, I help my clients make educated decisions in either selecting a DAM system that’s appropriate for their needs, or devising a DAM strategy according to industry best practices.

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

DAM is one of the more exciting pieces of software out there. But it can also be very complex. To anyone starting out in DAM, I would advise to understand the marketplace, the vendors and the software they offer. You will see that an apple can indeed fall far from the tree, and not all DAM systems are created equal.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

In many projects I’ve consulted on, one of the biggest challenges is Digital Asset Management staffing. Too often, organizations tend to overlook the human resources aspect of the DAM system and do not properly plan for who will implement the change in the organization and what types of professionals will be needed on the team to make the DAM project successful.

Digital asset managers, librarians, developers, system administrators – these are some of the examples of the roles critical to DAM success from a staffing perspective. When creating a budget for the DAM project, keep in mind that your spending will not stop at the licensing of the DAM software: add to that the implementation (and who will take that on), training and education (who in your organization will be the DAM ambassador?), and ongoing support and enhancements (what is your DAM team?).

In other words, successful DAM is not only about software. You cannot take full advantage of your DAM system and innovate with it if you don’t have proper people in place.

What was your biggest mistake with regard to DAM?

It’s always tough to talk about mistakes, but we all make them every now and then, right? I would say that my biggest DAM mistake was related to not being able to help a client choose a DAM vendor that was more appropriate for the needs of the organization at the time. They didn’t end up in a DAM disaster, but it was not entirely ideal. DAM selection can be a very difficult process with many stakeholders involved across any given organization. There are certain procurement practices one must follow. Emotions often run high in light of the organizational change that a DAM brings. So it is understandable that some decisions that are made are not always ideal. And that’s OK, as long as you consider all the advantages and drawbacks of a certain decision and are willing to live with it, happily thereafter. Risk management and change management planning certainly helps.

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Guru Talk: Sid Anand – Accenture

Sid Anand

Relatively new to the industry of Digital Asset Management, Anand still understands that technology does not fix people/process problems; rather you must first educate the user to enable successful outcomes in a DAM system.

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

I spent 7 years at The Vanguard Group, with my last role working on their ECM solution(TeamSite). It was during that role as ECM product lead where I first discovered the DAM concept and ended up attending the Createasphere DAM conference in LA in May 2013.  This was my first exposure to the DAM world. Vanguard was interested in defining the future of content at their company at the time, and obviously understanding the world of digital assets is at the forefront. I met David Diamond of Picturepark at the conference and he introduced me to DAM Guru Program. In October 2013, months after the conference, I joined the Accenture Digital practice as an Integration Manager where I concentrate on the delivery content strategies, ECM solutions, and growing our DAM practice.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

I describe digital asset management as the logical organization, understanding, and distribution of the meaningful media a company wants to share with its audience.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

My DAM expertise is a very primitive work in progress.  My first exposure came at Createasphere 2013. Ever since then, online references of specific products (HP, Adobe, aDAM, etc) have been great technical resources for me to understand capabilities. Within Accenture we have a great training program that exposes us to DAM principles, best practices, and case studies from our past experiences.

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

I would say that it is great to understand product capabilities and what X product can do versus Y product. However, the fundamental DAM principles of getting the basic system requirements and fitting the business processes that need to be in place are the most important concepts related to implementing a successful DAM or any piece of enterprise software. I believe in the school of thought that technology does not fix people/process problems. Fix the process and people’s behaviors first, then optimize it all with a great fitting technology.

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

I have been a men’s high school basketball official since I graduated college in 2006 working leagues in the Philadelphia area. If I was not working in the digital world now, concentrating on DAM work, I would busting my tail up the officiating ladder hoping to make the college ranks.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

My biggest challenge is developing the expertise on my own. I am a lifelong learner and I love working with creative people. Finding the balance of the career to take time out to attend DAM specific conferences is something I wish I could do more of, as those experiences are what got me here and I would love to make more time to be more involved in providing direction to someone else looking to get started.

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

In 5 years, DAM will be a standard required piece of software for any enterprise marketing department. The software products are there and they all provide flexible solutions; however, companies need to understand the value that a DAM brings to a company’s bottom line.

What was your biggest mistake with regard to DAM?

I do wish I got involved in it a few years back. Getting exposed to the ECM world 5+ years ago got me going in the right direction, the DAM explosion is currently in-flight and I do wish I saw it prior to hopping on the truck later.

What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?

I would like to think that I have not reached my successful point in the world of DAM software, being a novice to the industry, I aim to have my best days ahead of me and hope that I can mentor the next generation of voices in the industry.

What more would you like to learn about DAM?

I always value the case studies that are shared with the communities and within my company. I do believe that every implementation case is different and I enjoy learning the intricacies of clients, their unique requirements, and the custom features that clients request for implementations. The breadth of knowledge only aids in developing a better understanding to how DAM fits in every situation.

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DAM Guru Program Members Featured in ASMP Blog

ASMP Blog Features DAM Guru Program Members

ASMP Blog features DAM Guru Program Members speaking on Digital Asset Management

The “Strictly Business” blog from the American Society of Media Photographers this week will feature posts by DAM Guru Program members speaking about what they know so well—digital asset management.

Post #1:
Three Quick and Dirty DAM Tools to Enhance Productivity and Professionalism
by Corey Chimko

Post #2:
Why You Should Care About DAM
by William Moritz

Post #3:
Using the PLUS Registry for Always-Current Embedded Metadata
by David Riecks

Post #4: 
The Value of Being a DAM Smart Photographer
by Adam Hunter

Post #5:
Digital Asset Management as a Client Service
by David Diamond

Guru Talk: Scott Pereira – EA Games

Scott Pereira - Metadata Taxonomist

Scott has experience working with several enterprise companies, and values strong naming structures for assets.

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

I have mainly been in the role of Digital Asset Coordinator and/or Metadata Taxonomist, adding keyword metadata to images as they are added to our databases. I’ve done this role for NBC-Universal Pictures, Disney Animation Research Library, and Disney Consumer Products.

My current role at EA (Electronic Arts) is a little more advanced, I oversee the incoming assets being added to our database and I check for accuracy. I also check that the correct user permissions have been assigned to each asset to ensure the correct users have access to them, and that restricted assets are not shared with the wrong user groups. I also add and remove user accounts from our system and resolve user login or technical issues. I have the ability to modify our DAM user interface by adding metadata fields as needed. I also create user-training videos on how to navigate and use the tools available on our DAM site.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

The best way to track, monetize, and archive your digital assets.

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

Create a unique file naming structure and stay consistent with your file naming.

What more would you like to learn about DAM?

I would like to learn how to build and maintain a DAM system.

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Guru Talk: Faith Robinson – Digital Strategist

Faith Robinson - Digital StrategistWith a long history of experiences in diverse digital asset management solutions, Robinson understands the importance and need in respecting the technology, the process and the content to ensure quality outcomes.

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

My career in DAM is now nearly 18 years old and I have worked at companies like Getty, Sony Music, International Paper, Yale and most recently Hasbro. In those companies I specialized in DAM and Content Platform development.

I also spent several years as a Director of a hosted DAM platform in the professional services, working with companies like the Academy Awards Foundation, Stila Cosmetics, ESPN and other SMB clients. That was a very diverse experience and allowed me time to explore content monetization more deeply. I think having been in the industry so long, there isn’t much I haven’t been tasked with; business analysis, metadata development, training, project management which has been very valuable. Currently I am looking at new opportunities in the industry while I freelance and work on a series of articles.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

My mom asked me this early on in my career and I described it as organizing digital files, stakeholders, workflows and software so that artists, marketers, websites, and video producers could more easily search and distribute content. I think there are lots of ways and processes to do that, but most roads all lead back to some sort of DAM solution in order to grow and thrive.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

I actually didn’t realize I was learning DAM when I first started out. I went to school for photography – back when everyone still used film. I remember our retouching class was with film, ink and dyes. I graduated and took a seminar on this new thing called Photoshop. I was hooked on digital photography from then on. So my first experience (after a brief attempt at a recording career), was working at Getty Images. Getty had just acquired the Hulton Archive. It is an amazing collection and my role was to start working on digitization and ways to monetize those assets it in a Web 1.0 world.

From there my mind was just absorbed with DAM and I loved everything around content management. Now there are such great ways to explore the industry. I enjoy traditional class settings but I also really support and like that you can take substantial classes at conferences as well as learn virtually through vendor webinars.

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

I think it depends on the role you are tasked with – but for anyone who manages content, technology or creative processes – I would offer this:  Not everyone can see the value of DAM or the change that needs to happen in order make it successful. Be a communicator and advocate – of the technology, of the process and of the content itself.  If you are passionate about your work – you will become a natural subject matter expert – always seek to learn more.  Learn about the latest technologies as well as traditional production processes.  And don’t overlook preservation – it’s a vital part of what will be your grandchildren’s content experience.

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

I suppose going back to a recording career might be worth considering. Although I’d likely be so hung up on controlling my brand and how it all looked and worked that in the end I’d be back into a content management career before my first album was released.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

I’m a person that loves DAM strategy and vision. It’s challenging to get companies adopting and continuously improving a DAM system. It seems to be a very hard commitment for some. With probably the exception of  Universities, Libraries and Museums – companies today that are struggling to manage content just don’t seem to really understand the strategy or practice of DAM. A friend and I were talking the other night about companies that ‘ghost ride’ their content technologies. The concept is like ghost riding your bike when you were young – you peddle really fast and then jump off. The bike continues on based on the initial momentum and if you line it up okay it stays upright and pretty straight for a while.  But ghost riding always ends with a spectacular crash – and to be fair that’s what most folks are waiting to see. I’ve seen a lot of companies do this with DAM implementations and then sort of wonder why they never achieved certain integrations or greater value from the platform.

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

In 5 years – I believe DAM won’t be such a talked-about acronym. Most companies won’t buy DAM software separately – it will be a foundation module that drives content solutions like CEM/CXM. Transformation and BPM engines will be an essential component of DAM as consumers will have even more multi-screen experiences.

What was your biggest mistake with regard to DAM?

Hmm – my early mistakes were mostly just opportunities to learn. Underestimating change management that DAM introduces is always tricky. If there isn’t support and constant messaging – both top down and bottom up, things can quickly slip off-track.

What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?

I have taken on some major implementations and upgrades in my career. I have never been afraid to undertake those types of tricky projects. I am only successful on those ventures when I have been able to lead a diverse team of people much smarter than me. I adore and admire all the folks who were my most recent colleagues, staff and interns. They worked so hard for the last couple of years on such difficult upgrades and to expand global content platform. I’ve been lucky to work with some of the smartest engineers and technical staff from the very beginning of my career – it makes a tremendous difference when you have that knowledge base and can design solutions that truly meet business needs and goals.

What more would you like to learn about DAM?

Right now I am really focused on User Experience and what that will look like in future DAM software. I love the study and practice of developing interfaces that are intuitive and drive fluid (and proper) use of content from concept to end-user consumption.

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