Guru Call: USA

US-flagLooking for a Guru in NY, USA.  DGP member works for an international non-profit organization. Company has a lot of assets all over the world, and would like them centrally stored for simple access. Member is seeking advice from anyone who has experience with global non-profits.

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Guru Talk: Shawna Cronan – Compassion International

Shawna Cronan - Media Asset Manager

Knowing how to manage a digital asset management system across 38 different countries is no small task, but Cronan has some tips to make it successful.

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

I have worked for two companies as a DAM professional: Scripps Networks Interactive and Compassion International. In my current role at Compassion International, I am the digital media manager of a global system where we have users from 38 different countries.

I got my start in DAM at Scripps Networks (HGTV, Food Network, Travel Channel, Cooking Channel, DIY, GAC) by managing HGTV’s DAM library. Over time, our media libraries grew from small, individual brand libraries into one large media library. I migrated the HGTV and Food Network individual libraries, and learned a lot along the way.

What draws me to DAM is the balance of creativity and logic. DAM professionals have the privilege of working with beautiful media and creative people, and we also pride ourselves in organizing these assets, satisfying our inner geek.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

To those unfamiliar with DAM, I will explain that it is a central location for storing, accessing and retrieving digital files. And when I do my job right, with a few clicks, users can search for what they need and then download their desired files.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

I had a great mentor at Scripps Networks. I also learned by getting my hands dirty. When we consolidated libraries at Scripps Networks, I manually migrated the HGTV library that consisted of about 50,000 assets. You really get to know your system uploading that many files!

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

It’s equally important to take the time to know your users and to learn your system. Ultimately, your library is no good if it isn’t being used.

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

Is there such a thing as an international spa critic? That would be a pretty good gig.

What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?

In my new role at Compassion International, one of my favorite things is spending time with our users and training them to use our system. When I see that my colleagues have a “breakthrough” moment and they’re excited about its features, it is very satisfying for me.

What more would you like to learn about DAM?

In general, I just want to keep learning. I will keep questioning and streamlining processes. There is always something to improve, new technologies to learn, and more efficient methods to deliver our assets to our users.

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Required Skill Set For A Digital Asset Management Department Lead

This article was originally published on the DAM Coalition website, a property of Pro Video Coalition. As DAM Coalition was decommissioned in early 2015, this content was moved with permission.

by Nick Sincaglia

Having spent over 15 years in the field of Digital Asset Management, both as a consultant and as a staff member of some of the leading media and entertainment companies, I am frequently asked to help define the skill set required to lead an ongoing digital asset management initiative. Sometimes, I am even asked to assist in helping find the people to fill this role.

What skills should the leader of a digital asset management team possess in order to operate and maintain these types of systems, and enable the organization to maximize its full potential? It is an important question to ask and even more important for the organization to get right.

I think the question is a challenging one to answer, due to the fast pace at which the digital media and technology industries are evolving. The skill requirements have grown over the years as the focus on the digital business has increased and departments and budgets have expanded.

I will express my opinions in answering this question based on my own experiences, but I know that not everyone’s DAM experiences are the same. I welcome your feedback and would be interested in hearing what you most value when selecting a leader for your digital asset management teams.

DAM as a Department

I think it is important for the leader of your DAM department to possess four main skills. Before we go into each of those, I want to point out that I deliberately used the term “department.” I have seen many companies try to tuck DAM into an existing department within their organization and, generally speaking, it never works very well.

DAM is unique. It is its own kind of animal. It involves a little bit of a lot of things, such as software engineering, database design, operations, licensing, product design, account management, etc. But DAM is not enough of any of these things for it to make sense to fold it underneath any one of these headings.

DAM really needs to be considered its own department that works closely with each of the other departments in the organization, but is viewed as its own discipline, with its own resources, release schedules and budgets. Recognize this early and you will avoid a number of problems, and you won’t inadvertently set up the members of the DAM team for failure.

DAM Skill #1

The first skill on my list for a DAM department lead to possess is strong workflow management and troubleshooting skills.

There are a number of formalized quality analysis techniques and methodologies used to describe the recursive nature of evaluating the operational components that make up your workflow systems to determine the quality, efficiency and identify deficiencies. They include Six Sigma, Lean, Pareto Analysis, etc. But it is not the method itself or the “certification” in any of these methodologies that is important. What is important is that the person is capable of analyzing complex and interconnected systems, and for them to be able to think in systematic way so that they can put into place ways in which to monitor these systems to recognize when a system is not running optimally, when failures are occurring or optimizations need to be added.

What I am trying to describe here is not the obvious IT system failures, like network outages or catastrophic software crashes. (Although dealing with these events are a part of the job as well). What I am trying to describe is much more subtle.

There is an art in working in an environment where software interacts with large volumes of complex metadata. Workflow systems are designed around the data they are expecting to receive. But what happens when the software encounters data that is completely unexpected? Results vary depending on the design of the software and systems.

You can never 100% predict the range of data variations that your systems will receive. The best you can do is to try to put defensive barriers in place that will recognize when data exceeds the expected norm, and either tries to auto-correct it or routes it through to an error processing pipeline to be manually reviewed. The intelligent algorithms designed to make these complex workflow-processing decisions must be constantly re-evaluated and tweaked to handle newly discovered data variations that enter the system so that the number of manually reviewed records decreases over time.

One can never expect to completely eliminate the need for manual reviewing of failed metadata processing. Some poor quality data will slip past your defense systems and find its way into your production systems. When this happens, it is equally important for this person to be able to put into place a means to locate and correct any of these data issues before they have any significant affect on your data driven business systems.

Because these software/data issues don’t typically result in catastrophic errors that take down your systems, they require one to pay careful attention to the system outputs of the various workflow components, and the interactions between them, in order to recognize when the results are deviating from the norm. Many times, these problems do not occur regularly and may only manifest themselves under certain conditions involving multiple inputs.

What kind of person would have the well-honed skills to be successful in this role? I don’t think one can say there is a single mold in which one must fit, but I will say that experience is critical.

Well-honed troubleshooting and analysis skills are not something one can acquire in a certification course or weekend workshop. Neither are these skills something in which one can acquire proficiency by reading a book or preparing for a certification exam. The real world can present challenges that can be enormously complex, especially within this era of “big data,” in which more and more organizations are finding themselves.

I may be a little biased in my opinion on this, but I would lean towards individuals with a strong engineering background. The reason I say this is because engineers are typically trained and well practiced in the art of problem solving.

It is said that in order to be an expert in a subject, one must practice a cumulative of 10,000 hours on that subject. The job of a typical engineer is to solve problems and devise solutions. Overtime, their thinking becomes oriented towards looking at complex situations, breaking them down to smaller and smaller sub-components, and thinking about how to test each sub-component in order to determine the cause of the problem. I won’t say that engineers are the only ones who possess these skills, but I think engineers typically have more opportunities, both in school and in their work life, to hone these types of skills.

DAM Skill #2

A second area of focus, which I think is a very important trait to have in the field of Digital Asset Management, is to have a passion for metadata modeling.

I use the term “passion” because, let’s face it, metadata is not particularly sexy or exciting, but it is critically important to the success of your DAM systems. If you can find someone who has strong opinions in this area, that person is likely to have spent time studying the subject.

I firmly believe that with DAM systems, architecture really, really matters! A significant part of any DAM system architecture is the way it captures and stores the metadata that describes its digital assets. “Content is king,” as the saying goes; but that content does not exist if you can’t find it! In the world of DAM, it could be easily argued, “context is king.” If you take this to heart, you will recognize how important metadata models are.

In fact, I view the processing of the media files as the easy part of DAM; it is the metadata that is the hard part. You need to either leverage existing metadata standards or build your own data models to accurately represent the needs of your business. Then you must figure out how to accurately capture this data and protect it from being corrupted over the life of the content.

Metadata design is more than just accumulating a list of data fields used to capture metadata. There are real design considerations and industry expertise one needs in order to develop a metadata model that will last the test of time and grow with your organization’s needs.

Also, don’t forget that we operate in an increasingly connected world, so making your metadata models interoperable with both internal and external parties is becoming increasingly important. Having someone who has both strong data modeling experience combined with in-depth knowledge of other available data modeling options is essential, in my opinion.

DAM Skill #3

Another trait that I feel is necessary for a DAM department lead, and cannot be ignored, is a strong background and interest in new technology.

The pace of change in the field of technology has become truly exponential. DAM is not just about technology (remember we started our discussion on workflow); however, the right use of technology can make the difference between working harder and working smarter.

In just the last few years, I have seen a five- to ten-fold increase in efficiency with some newer technologies over older tried and true techniques and methodologies. This can have a huge impact on the budget and resource requirements needed to build and maintain your DAM systems, not to mention your competitiveness in the marketplace.

A genuine curiosity for new technologies and new approaches to old problems, combined with a healthy skepticism and the ability to evaluate the trade-offs between the new and old approaches, is important.

DAM Skill #4

The last skill that I think is important in a DAM department lead is a good understanding of intellectual property rights.

One does not need to have the background of an IP lawyer; however, the plain reality in the Digital Asset Management business is that one rarely owns 100% of the rights under all circumstances to the content they manage.

Most content has multiple parties with claims to and interests in the intellectual property contained within those digital files. Those interests are outlined in contracts with all sorts of conditions and limitations. Understanding the true meaning these contractual clauses have on your digital asset catalog is critical. You should expect your business to change over time. Having someone who understands the implications these changes can have on the use of the digital assets, the royalties owed, and the legal risks, will be critical to your business.

By no means is this a complete list of skills. But from my experience, these are four critical skills that can significantly impact your DAM and your business. If you can find someone with this wide array of skills and experience, you would be certainly off to a very good start.

Nick Sincaglia

Nick Sincaglia is President/Founder of NueMeta LLC, a consulting firm focused on digital asset and metadata management strategies. Nick’s company provides software development and system design consulting services for the leading digital media & entertainment companies. Nick has been active in several industry technical standards bodies as a Board Member and Working Group Chairman for the Digital Data Exchange (DDEX), NARM’s Digital Think Tank, and member of Metadata Working Groups sponsored by the European Broadcast Union and Audio Engineering. Nick has been a member of DAM Guru Program since 2013.

LearnDAM-Logo-75x75DAM Guru Program recognizes this article as worthy of the #LearnDAM designation for materials that provide genuine digital asset management education without sales agendas. Search #LearnDAM on Google for more materials.

Guru Talk: Adam Ungstad – Independent Information Architect

Digital Asset Management Consultant - Adam Ungstad

Through years of experience Adam understands that when working with clients you need to start with an everyday problem that most people can relate with, to help explain the basics of managing their digital assets and finding a solid solution.

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

I recently completed a consulting project for FIFA, the world’s football governing organization. Throughout the project I worked with stakeholders and content owners to create and validate an enterprise taxonomy now used to classify the official documents produced by the organization. It was the first time I had tackled a taxonomy project on such a large scale, and was a very rewarding project.

I’ve also recently done consulting work for the weather agency of the United Nations, the World Meteorological Organization, where I provided similar guidance on the information architecture of their web content. Prior to working as an independent consultant I was employed as a Senior Information Architect for the CIO of the Province of British Columbia (Canada), where I lead the development of metadata standards for the province’s Identity Information Management program.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

When describing DAM to people with no background in information management I often start by relating to a problem almost everyone has, such as managing their own digital photo collection. Everyone takes photos, many from different cameras, and they all need to sort through them, decide what they want to keep, store them, use them for different purposes, and find them again later. Then it becomes easier to talk about what happens when this problem scales to much, much larger collections, and people can start to understand different issues faced by large organizations such as ownership, legal obligations, rights management, versioning, naming, and of course my favorite, findability.

When talking about DAM with people who already have a background in information management I like to talk about the management of broadcast media – an area I find fascinating from a metadata perspective. Broadcasters need to know what content they have, what is in the content, who owns it, what they can do with it, and the technical quality of their content. From contract ontologies to standards on luminosity to the ownership of clips of content within larger pieces of content, talking about the management of broadcast media really allows me to show just how fascinating (and challenging) DAM can be.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

I learned about Digital Asset Management through my life long love for information architecture. I have a bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems which exposed me to the ins and outs of information management, but most of what I know about DAM has been self-taught through hands on experience or semi-formal training.

The Internet is a wonderful tool and there are many useful (largely free) tools out there that can help someone learn about the management of digital collections. Here are a few I’ve found useful:

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

If I wasn’t working in this field I would be writing and publishing. In 2012 I wrote and published my first guidebook, which continues to sell today and is found in several library collections in Canada, including the Vancouver Public Library. I have a passion for discovering information, organizing it so it is useful, and presenting it in an understandable form – all of which you can do in DAM or in writing books!

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Self-paced Digital Asset Management Education from DAM Foundation

Digital asset management education is hard to find. It’s not that there aren’t scores of websites and companies that promise DAM knowledge, it’s just that most of them don’t deliver on that promise.

This leaves tomorrow’s DAM professionals to learn from a handful of DAM books, the occasional worthwhile blog post and, of course, one another, through DAM Guru Program. Missing from the DAM education scene have been affordable, DAM knowledge programs that provide structured training.

“Today’s DAM experts weren’t taught Digital Asset Management; they invented it,” said DAM Guru Program creator and DAM Survival Guide author, David Diamond. “There was no DAM education for us and, until recently, there was no worthwhile DAM education for anyone else either.”

Recognizing the need for a program that could educate and promote DAM as a career option, the DAM Foundation announced in early 2014 a pending partnership with the University of British Columbia (UBC). Together, the organizations were to develop a curriculum that covered all the bases and would be delivered by a reputable institution whose name would add value to a resume.

But that’s not what happened.

“They were trying to dictate DAM education content to us and they don’t know DAM,” explained DAM Foundation curriculum developer Elizabeth Keathley. “Plus, they wanted to charge nearly $3,600 for the certificate, and none of that money would have made its way back to help DAM Foundation.”

“In fact,” clarified DAM Foundation president, Mark Davey, “a portion of the registration money would have been paid to DAM Foundation. In truth, it would have been much more per signup than what we make today; but the program we offer today is affordable to anyone who can benefit from the training, and this was always our goal.”

It was a setback for the DAM Foundation, which knew from surveys that the #1 thing people wanted from it were online courses. It was not, apparently, a setback for UBC, which continues to offer its DAM course, independent from the Foundation.

But from the ashes of the DAM Foundation/UBC partnership came a solution that might ultimately serve even more people.

“We decided to go it alone,” Keathley explained. “We’re offering the same content we had in mind for the UBC courses, but at one-tenth the cost to students.”

The Foundation launched Introduction to Digital Asset Management, in August of 2014. It’s an online-only certification course that’s intended to make DAM education accessible to professionals with day jobs and limited budgets.

“Any company can afford $360 for an employee to get DAM training,” Keathley said. “And if the company won’t pay, we think this price is still affordable to students who pay for themselves.”

Self-financed, Self-directed

As it turns out, a number of early program enrollees are paying for their own training. In some cases, it was easier than wrangling funds from an employer; but in other cases, the student’s interest in DAM came from the desire for a career change—a goal not likely to be employer endorsed.

Julie Watson holds a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Sciences. She is a self-described “traditional librarian.” At least she was so before starting her DAM Foundation training.

“I saw the writing on the wall—digital is the future for library professionals,” she admitted. “We [librarians] like to talk about the fabulous library, but we have to be realistic about how we can use our skills in the business world. DAM is a perfect example of how a librarian’s career can grow—they need us.”

Watson found the DAM Foundation course page via Google and decided it would be a good fit for her background and schedule.

“I love the way the courses are set up,” she said. “I’m a self-directed learner and the courses are self-paced, which enables me to put it all on hold when I need to. If I had to be in a class once or twice a week, I wouldn’t be able to do it; I just don’t have the time.”

Watson credits her DAM Foundation training for better preparing her for the interview that lead to her current position as Content Steward for Aquent Studios, through which she contracts for Merck.

“Even the little bit I got from my first DAM Foundation lesson helped me go into the interview for my current job with more confidence. I felt like I spoke their language,” she said.

Midcareer Change of Course

Elizabeth Keathley says Julie Watson’s career transition is not uncommon.

“We’re seeing librarians moving out of libraries and into DAM jobs,” she said. “And we’re seeing young people with IT or marketing degrees who want to add DAM to their skillsets.”

Keathley said the Foundation’s guiding principle for its courses is that those who are getting into DAM midcareer shouldn’t have to go back to school or spend an undue sum for training.

“Our program enables people to start and stop when they need, without being controlled by a university schedule,” she explained. “When you create an educational program that’s easy to get into, you create diversity in the profession.”

Unstructured Training to a Point

Students can start and stop their training at will, but all lessons must be completed within six months of the completion of the first lesson. This enables the Foundation to cap the duration of its training obligations, but it also encourages students to complete their studies.

The entire course comprises five lessons:

  • DAM as a Strategy
  • DAM as a System
  • The Basics of Managing Assets
  • DAM as a Knowledge Platform
  • DAM as a Measurement Tool

Keathley serves as instructor and mentor to the students. The coursework is largely based on her book, “Digital Asset Management: Content Architectures, Project Management, and Creating Order Out of Media Chaos.” Other course content providers and editors include  Mark Davey, Deb Fanslow, Henrik de Gyor, Emily Kolvitz and Jeff Lawrence, each known for significant contributions to the DAM community’s #LearnDAM education efforts.

“This is an all-star team of DAM educators,” David Diamond said. “Not only are they knowledgeable beyond argument, they are among the few DAM educators in the world today whose works are never polluted by software sales agendas.”

More specific to the benefits of the content itself, Keathley describes it as, “all the stuff you need to walk into a new DAM job on Day 1.”

DAM Pros Might Need More

Keathley’s summary description of the program might explain why experienced DAM professional, Dave Bogie, who has for many years managed the Idaho Power Company digital asset management system, was hoping for a little more.

“The material I’m getting in Lesson 3 is one opinion about how that should all go together, but it’s in direct conflict with other things I’ve read,” he said. “There are a lot of ways to go about this and it would be good to have that discussion. If we were in a live classroom, I’d be raising my hand to suggest alternatives, argue and ask for clarification.”

Still, he admits that the course is offering him value.

“My practical [DAM] expertise was gathered while trying to make Cumulus work. Everything else I know is theoretical, based on what I’ve read on the Internet. This training at least gives me some feedback. But for me, a 201 course would be better, less theoretical.”

Bogie’s criticism comes with the qualification that he is a seasoned DAM professional. He recognizes that those new to the field will benefit most from the course as it is. His concerns also underscore a need for advanced, more focused digital asset management training, which is not available today.

“If DAM Foundation offered advanced training, I would absolutely find funding for that,” he said.

Help with Software Transitions Too

Carla Derck is Corporate Communications Coordinator-Digital Assets for Victaulic. Her firm has been using Extensis Portfolio for years but has spent the past year researching replacements.

“Portfolio isn’t doing what we need it to do anymore,” she said. “I started my search for a replacement DAM by reading DAM Survival Guide, which taught me that I needed to focus on our needs before I could think about software. That led me to DAM Guru Program and this DAM Foundation course.”

Unique about Derck’s approach to the training was the goal of better defining her company’s digital asset management needs so that she could make a better DAM software purchase decision. Seeing the program as an extension of her own research, she wanted information fast, without having to adjust her professional schedule.

“I like that I can do the lessons at my own pace,” she explained. “I don’t feel pressured to complete a lesson at a given time, which I appreciate. I’m working more than full-time at my current job, so I don’t have the time for a scheduled courses. This is stress-free education for me.”

Derck’s employer did pay for her certificate, but she says should would have gladly paid for it herself.

She also admits that she purchased her new DAM software before completing her training, largely because the vendor offered a discount to sign before the end of the year. But, she said, the course confirmed enough about what she’d learned on her own, so she felt confident in her decision.

Funding More Advanced Studies

Unlike DAM Guru Program, which is funded by DAM software maker Picturepark, the DAM Foundation has no external funding. So, in addition to providing value to students, this intro course must provide revenue to DAM Foundation.

“We will fund DAM 201 and beyond with the proceeds we collect from this intro course,” Keathley said.

Considering that the DAM Foundation might be the DAM professional’s most likely source for affordable advanced DAM study programs in the future, enrollment in today’s course might a worthy investment, even if what’s learned is, as Dave Boogie describes it, theoretical in nature.

DAM-using organizations can afford to send multiple employees through the training, and DAM vendors can certainly afford to gift the program to customers and contest winners, perhaps additionally requiring that their own employees be DAM-certified before they claim to be able to help others.

What DAM Foundation offers in this course is an affordable entry point to learn digital asset management through the teachings of a handful of experienced DAM professionals. There will certainly be critiques of the curriculum from those whose DAM experiences differ, but the course should provide students with a good DAM foundation (no pun intended) from which they can embark on a DAM-related career with confidence.

More information about the course is available at the DAM Foundation website.


Neither DAM Guru Program nor its sponsor, Picturepark, are affiliated with DAM Foundation.

Guru Talk: Melissa Polidori – Digital Asset Management Professional

Digital Asset Manager - Melissa Polidori

Working in both small agencies and large corporations, Polidori knows how to make it work with any digital asset management system.

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

The journey started in 96’ when I accepted the role of lead archivist for one of Canada’s national nightly news programs. What a great ride it was for our relatively small international news crew to go from analog to digital over the decade I was a part of that dedicated team.

The archive was comprised of an inelegant DOS-like PC program that directed the researcher or archivist to a tape location in a large climate controlled, steel reinforced tape vault. Although the software was painful to look at, the story and footage descriptions offered tremendous detail. This detail acted as a type of metadata in advance of viewing the footage.

In addition there were live international footage feeds that I could patch into a Mac to record a stream of anything that I felt matched the writers intent for the upcoming new cast. Also, I licensed stills from AP, CP (Canadian Press), independent photojournalists as well as working in Photoshop and other Adobe programs to acquire and make ready whatever visual elements were needed for the graphics team to create for the show.

Each show was archived, tagged and ready for access the next day. It was a highly creative, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, ‘we need it now’ exciting environment, filled with a compassionate interesting diverse group of people whom I’ll know as friends forever. If you have seen an episode of HBO’s The Newsroom, yes it was exactly like that. It was not DAM in the more formal current sense; however, it was my entry to the DAM arena.

Next up, in 2007 I was very fortunate to be the Digital Asset Manager for Scholastic Canada, rolling out their new DAM process to the Canadian marketing and creative arm of, as directed by the US parent company ‘’. It was so exciting! I think they choose me because I assured them I could do it (but I did not really know what that meant—yet.)

Essentially, I made sure that everyone from Sales to Creative, Marketing, Production, including external international print vendors, were all in good shape with their use and understanding of (North Plains) Telescope, its protocols for file ingestion, access, searching, retrieving etcetera. In that setting—with the backbone of ISBN being a unique signifier, or single container for all files associated with a book and e-book—I found Telescope to be extremely effective. Scholastic US information services team was and is the paramount driving force to this DAM Initiative.

In 2013, I became the Digital Asset Manager for small digital agency that required a business analysis for a new DAM and workflow. I presenting a few DAM vendor options across the business streams for an upcoming digital asset repository before proposing a DAM solution in which space was provided by their parent company,

Layered onto that, I designed the project naming convention and project structure with some Atlassian additions that made it more WIP engaged for collaboration and project follow-through with PM, Creative and Development teams. I provided training and general implementation for various teams. This solution is a very customized and flexible workflow for ongoing work and re-use of space.

After interviewing many terrific DAM vendors for use by this agency, I would have preferred to implement one of them, but it is the nature of small business to work with their existing resources and budget.

Experiencing all angles of this challenge was part of its solution. I am so lucky to have been inside the big engines like television, as well as small operations, as this gives me a better comprehension of market needs in DAM.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

I see DAM as a giant garage that’s got a space, a drawer, a hook for every tool including your garden gnome. It is a location where all file types can fit and many different users can enjoy the benefits of DAM resources. From this perspective, DAM is as integral to a business function as office furniture. However, if it is not supported as part of business infrastructure or capital expenditure, then it is difficult for people to justify allocating support and funding to something almost transparent yet crucial for growth.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

Research, reading, testing and making analogies in my mind to be able to translate the technical details of DAM to another person or team has helped me learn and understand DAM. I have read a lot of David Diamond’s articles, which are first-class resources for anyone hoping to dive into DAM.

I’ve also reached out to members of the DAM community and learned so much about the variety of applications and implementations for the software and the industries who use it. The DAM community can be a highly supportive, joyful, sharing group. We need a DAM meet-up in Toronto, Canada in the future for more people to connect (hint) and for DAM business to grow.

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

Good question, one of the most important things for anyone new to DAM would be to understand that in five years, it will all have changed quite a bit. Be really flexible and realize that you cannot know everything about the current state of affairs in DAM or market trends, and that’s why the learning, reading, and collaborating never ends. Stay open to change.

And, if you happen to be a tiny bit OCD, it’s an asset to this type of detailed job.

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

Teaching. I started out teaching after college. I later went to University and back into teaching, which I adore. Collaboration and sharing ideas makes the people aspect of DAM so enjoyable for me.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

Dare I say it, my next DAM job. Feel free to let me know your thoughts. 🙂

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

On the point of growth for DAM, of all the industries I’ve worked in—TV, print & Web—Web has the most voracious appetite for assets, spanning the range between illustration, audio, video, animation and photography. Now that everything is essentially Web and interactive, I believe that DAM will be in the spotlight as a necessity for productivity. In this way a WIP function will, I think it will be integrated into every DAM solution to give broader scope of the essential usefulness to users and those who fund the effort.

What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?

I feel as though each DAM adventure has been successful and my most recent role at the digital agency—although it was super challenging—I am very proud that I created something useful for a wide variety of team members who were not previously connected are now unified by a DAM workflow for project resolution.

I believe the purpose of DAM is to bring order to chaos, to ease our daily work and to record brand development history. If I can be a part of that DAM process, that is successful work to me. As my brother used to say when he would walk into my apartment, “Welcome to the Hobbit.” You see, I have a place for everything; everything is in the right spot and is well stocked. DAM is a natural fit for me.

In addition, DAM is in its own category. As a service and product, it straddles between IT and whom it serves; therefore, if you can make a good connection with IT, the rest of the DAM delivery will be a success. Cement your success with IT on your side.

What more would you like to learn about DAM?

I am always interested in discovering what developments are changing the face of DAM. I assume that a player in DAM technology is market demand and I hope that a broader market base can realize the potential of DAM in their business, as there are so many vendors with unique applications to provide.

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Guru Call: USA

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Guru Talk: Amy Cooper – T3

Amy Cooper - Digital Asset Manager

One of Amy Cooper’s secrets to digital asset management success is to get users to step out of their comfort zone and alter their workflows to improve the end product.

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

My first endeavor in managing digital assets was working as the Photo Editor for When I started in 1999, we were still shooting film but I quickly transitioned the business to digital, and in doing so, had to create methods of organization and file naming for our massive artist archive that is still growing today. At the time, it was mostly folder structures on a server, but the business (Viacom) was starting to use Cumulus for Nickelodeon assets around the time that I left. I still dream about going back and importing it all into a real DAM system. I’m a big fan of metadata tagging and that archive would have been a lot of fun to tag.

My second DAM job was Assistant DAM Manager for Enfatico, a creative agency that was realized by Dell to integrate all of their marketing work into one company. We used Xinet, a system that was creative friendly and used globally to organize thousands of images and layouts.

I’m currently the Digital Asset Manager for T3, a creative and innovation agency that supports big clients such at UPS, Capital One, Allstate Insurance Company, and 7-Eleven, among others. We use Telescope to manage tens of thousands of assets. I really fell in love with Telescope as soon as I got there, especially the rights management features that we were able to build into the system. I am also the Art Buyer for T3, so copyright issues are very important to me. I’ve trained over 350 employees on our DAM system since I started in 2010.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

Learning DAM was a pretty organic process as a photographer and photo editor, as the basics are essentially built in to Adobe file information and camera data. I started learning about DAM software when I joined Enfatico, but my knowledge really grew when I joined T3 and was able to attend Telescope and Henry Stewart DAM conferences. Meeting people from other companies and seeing how they use the systems and features really gives you great insight on how to make them work better in your own environment. From there I was introduced to the DAM Foundation and made some great contacts such as Elizabeth Keathley, David Lipsey and David Diamond.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

Even working for a technology company, a lot of people are afraid of new technology. My greatest challenge has been getting people to step out of their comfort zone and alter their workflows to include the time to add metadata and incorporate the use of a DAM system. A few extra minutes a day can really pay off in the end. When people start seeing that, they are more likely to adopt/adapt. It think it’s important to keep listening to your users and adjust the way you train people to use DAM software. Different features appeal to or deter Creatives vs. Technologists, so I put a lot of thought into how I train people, individually.

What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?

Again, I really love the rights management features we have built in to our system. Those features along with well documented and well understood DAM processes really make our agency stand out as a leader in areas of copyright risk management in our industry. I’m really proud of that. Most marketing agencies are still using traditional folder structures for their assets, with little to no copyright/license management, organization or oversight. But T3 has been using DAM/RM software for almost a decade now.

What more would you like to learn about DAM?

I really would like to learn some other DAM softwares, especially ones that are incorporating auto-tagging, reverse image searching and stock/API integration. It’s all really fascinating to me, I can’t wait to see where it goes! I would really love to see someone offer a great, affordable DAM software for personal use, if it’s not already out there.

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