Category: DGP Member Interviews

Guru Talk: Emily Vargas – Wilson Sporting Goods

Emily Vargas - Digital Asset Manager

An insightful read by Digital Asset Manager Emily Vargas on how to tame 2 million assets with sound digital asset management fundamentals.

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

I freelanced for about 8 years before I became permanent at Wilson Sporting Goods, so I worked at several places to get a more rounded experience as a Digital Asset Manager. Before Wilson, I was at Pearson, McDonald’s, Sears, Playboy, Answers Media, University at Buffalo SUNY Digital Libraries, Rochester Institute of Technology Archives, Bausch & Lomb Archives, and worked for a smaller photographer in Rochester New York. Each place here in Chicago I was a Digital Asset Management Contractor, or some form of that title, but in Rochester and Buffalo I was more of an archive and photographer assistant. Each place I was either working to digitize physical assets to be searchable in the DAM/database or working with born-digital assets in a variety of formats such as graphics, photography, video and audio. I also have had many experiences working with an exiting digital collection that had outgrown the original setup where I was brought in to fix an existing setup so that the collections were scalable for future growth.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

When I describe DAM to others, I come to it from my perspective as a librarian where we are organizing and cataloging the physical or digital content to serve the needs of the business as well as serving the people who are running the business. We are working to document the history of the company as we are also concurrently working on the new business needs such as e-commerce, product development, social media, videos, catalogs, and in-store displays, as well as all the photography assets that are needed to create that content such as product photography, lifestyle photography, and beauty shots possibly even video or audio content.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

I had been working for a photographer and a couple archives through my undergrad in photo school, but ultimately was encouraged to go to library school. Library school was so beneficial to me to learn the basics of organization, but once I graduated I started interning and freelancing anywhere I could get into in order to learn more about the variety of libraries and content that those libraries were working with. I found myself most drawn to Creative Departments within corporations that drew on my photo and production background, while putting my library education to work to help our departments be more efficient.

Ultimately, different topics require different approaches and research, but if you understand why something had been done in the past then you can better evaluate how to proceed for the future. When in doubt, I go back to the basics and open my Intro to Cataloging and Classification (Chan) book from library school. Drawing on my knowledge and then collaborating with our users has given me the greatest successes.

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

Listen and talk to your users. You can do anything and everything to your system that you want, but if it doesn’t work for your users, then it doesn’t work. If it doesn’t work for them, then they may start using something else that you cannot preserve and protect. You can’t help your users unless you understand what they need.

When I first started at Wilson, I interviewed a variety of stakeholders worldwide from the customer service reps, sales, marketing, creative, directors, and general managers. This gave me a 360 perspective of not only how the business operates, but also how they are using the system and what they need from it. Ultimately the changes we needed to make were simple and no-cost that we brought in over 3,000 new users in a two-year time period as well as re-establishing our DAM as the single source for content and information.

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

I would still be working with photographers in a production position, managing a photo studio, or maybe creative project management. I enjoy working with creative and photography studios to help them create efficiencies so that they can spend more time working on their craft.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

The daily manual work that is required to make the system work such as asset-specific metadata and on-boarding new team members to follow SOP standards. We utilize automated practices as much as we can, but there are still elements that require the human interaction and I am only one person responsible for managing over 2 million assets, which is growing by the minute.

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

More automation where DAM is working with PIM and PLM to update and manage the metadata of specific collections of assets such as product photography. I would also love to see the automation tie in marcomm where someone would get the full package of assets for each product such as product images, marketing assets, videos, and lifestyle. More content to support each product in order to help our business grow.

What was your biggest mistake with regard to DAM?

My first attempt at Facets and setting them up was such as disaster. I was excited about the capabilities and set them up with too much detail. The end result required so much ongoing maintenance and updates on the backend that our team was constantly re-tagging assets that had already been done before. Most of what we put in place ended up confusing or frustrating our users more so than helping them. For example, the facet for color we broke down into specific colors such as dark green, medium green, light green, but due to the subjectivity of this topic, the metadata ended up not being consistent. What I learned was that sometimes, general is better especially for something like color. What you see happening on many sites such as Zappos, you can choose a color family such as “Green” and then you get all the products that are green regardless of what color variation of green they are. Ultimately your facets should be helping your users narrow down the content in their search results faster.

What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?

My second attempt at facets. I understood what went wrong and so I married the idea of facets with metadata inheritance and taxonomy. What I ended up with is a system that is tagging assets for me as everyone is actively working on the DAM. This is so powerful for myself as a solo librarian that has thousands of users worldwide. This has been successful because the facets are generic, but powerful when paired together such as Brand + Sport + Content Type + Year so we can easily filter through content to get to a Wilson football package from 2014 because those assets are living within their designated structure for Wilson > Football > Packaging > 2014 and therefore can inherit the metadata from those folders that we setup. This gives the system the ability to create those relationships that ontologies would typically create, while still maintaining the taxonomy-based system.

What more would you like to learn about DAM?

Right now, I am really eager to learn more about ontologies. I am so fascinated by the relationships between assets and how they lead users to more content that they are looking for in order to benefit the business.

—–
Would you like to be a DAM Guru Program featured DAM professional? Signup now (for free) or contact your DAM Guru Program manager.

Guru Talk: Jared Bajkowski – Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Jared Bajkowski - DAM ProfessionalIf you’ve ever wondered about the three R’s of digital asset management, Jared Bajkowski covers this and so much more in his DAM interview.

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

I’ve been the Digital Assets Manager at a large non-profit for four years. At the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, we fund scientific research at labs around the world—which means a lot of digital assets. Most people outside of science aren’t familiar with us, but we’re actually the second largest philanthropic organization in the United States. I am the institute’s first Digital Assets Manager, so my primary goal was to lay the groundwork for the policies and guidelines for current and future records. Once the DAM was established I oversaw the process of bringing the current records online while continuing to catalog new assets as they came in. Building a strategy and policy from the ground up was exciting to me (still is).

My day-to-day now is managing the flow of new photography, design files, research imagery, video clips, contracts, etc. into the system. Often I’m curating customized collections for media outlets, web developers, graphic designers, or colleagues as needed for internal and external production. I also manage the institute’s graphic identity within the DAM, so I often work directly with designers on appropriate usage of our assets.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

DAM boils down to what others have called the three R’s: repository, reuse, and rights. Media is born digital these days and few organizations have physical file rooms anymore, so DAM is your digital vault keeping these items safe, centralized, and backed-up on your servers. Detailed metadata also makes it possible to quickly find items, eliminating potentially redundant photo or design projects. Finally, item records will make it clear what you do and don’t have copyright clearance for. Basically, a good DAM protects the money you’ve already spent, makes that money go farther, and guards against lawsuits.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

When I first transitioned from being a librarian to a Digital Assets Manager, I found much of the underlying philosophy of cataloging and preservation familiar, with some different nuances. Learning new terminology and graphic design workflow was important, and local Meetup groups and conferences were important to help me catch up. I found Henry Stewart’s DAM New York conference and the Journal of Digital Media Management to be particularly helpful.

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

What makes DAM go isn’t the technology or assets or policy (though they are important). What makes an effective DAM is user buy-in—never forget that. You could have the best system on the planet with perfect metadata, but it’s all worthless if your team isn’t using it. People need to see their work life getting easier with DAM around, and not just see it as more work. Talk to the team to identify the pain points in their workflow and then tailor your DAM to solve that problem. Solve peoples’ problems, and they’ll become your best evangelists for the system.

What was your biggest mistake with regard to DAM?

When the DAM was initially established, I was trying to standardized about five years’ worth of metadata from the old system. Previously there was no authority control so it was a bit like the wild west for metadata. Batch processing helped but trying to deal with this wealth of assets in a detailed manner was driving me crazy. Finally, under the advice of some DAM colleagues, I made my peace with the older assets and focused on the newer entries. This made sense since these were the assets people were actually using anyway. Focus on the present and future, and do what you can with the past.

What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?

Seeing people use the system outside my department was a thrill the first time I saw it happen. That’s when I knew all the training, meetings, outreach had worked. After all the hard work we put into it, seeing the DAM was out there in the wild, doing its job was a big moment for me.

—–
Would you like to be a DAM Guru Program featured DAM professional? Signup now (for free) or contact your DAM Guru Program manager.

Guru Talk: Melissa Pauna – Gap Inc – Banana Republic

Melissa Pauna - Digital Asset ManagerSome of the best advice you’ll hear in the digital asset management space comes from Melissa Pauna. She has learned that derailments should not make one lose sight of the objectives, remaining tenacious and focusing on the big picture can lead to success in less than ideal DAM situations.

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

Having worked in a number of positions has provided a wonderful opportunity to understand how digital asset management (DAM) implementation, administration, and prioritization differs between sectors and even within industries.

Getty Center – I was involved in the first DAM roll-out pilot project that started in the Communications department to assist in fulfilling global press image requests. Once we had a handle on the tool and workflow, I met with representatives from around the Getty Center campus: Museum, Research Institute, Foundation, Conservation Institute. Incorporating these divisions was a gradual and systematic roll-out ensuring seamless integration. Metadata was vigilantly updated and maintained for each division as assets merged into a larger, unified, repository. You’ve never seen so much metadata until you work for a museum/library combo of this caliber!


MGA Entertainment – As the digital archivist for one of the largest privately owned toy companies in the US, I was responsible for distributing and archiving photography. I was part of a talented in-house photo studio team that shot the product lines for use on packaging and also distribution to retailers. My role working with the product photography brought me in contact with designers, sales, and the Hong Kong samples division to ensure images were available and up-to–date to keep Santa’s workshop functioning. It was here that I experienced my first DAM system migration and data cleanup!


SolutionSet – Originally Haggin Marketing, I was hired to manage a digital asset management team for a well-established Bay-area marketing firm. The firm was largely print (catalog) based when I first started. We set up a DAM platform that was used by internal creative, production, and pre-press teams. Eventually a  digital company was acquired to round-out service  offerings. My team handled the image asset management lifecycle from start to finish including processing photoshoots, creating FPO files, retouching, and finally distributing and archiving approved photography for print and digital. Because many of our clients didn’t have a DAM system of their own, I also set up mini-DAM hubs for our clients to use to access and manage their files, incorporating their brand-specific taxonomies.


Benefit Cosmetics – At this company I was hired to implement a newly purchased digital asset management (DAM) system for the marketing division with the intent to replace an existing system. After reviewing the vendor’s exploratory interviews with stakeholders, I advised a slight course adjustment regarding the ‘focus’ of the DAM and then we quickly set to work. The new system was fully operational in less than four months just in time for a global conference unveil. It included a complete taxonomy and hierarchy build, specialized metadata schemas, branded portal (HotDAM!) that provided assets to over 700 global partners, and also served as an asset share-back platform. After Phase 1, how-to videos were created and uploaded to provide self-serve learning between formal user trainings. Once I was able to hire an assistant, we had the opportunity to further expand the DAM creating a SKU-based search, and finally integrated a weekly newsletter that highlighted new assets and included DAM tips & tricks based on user feedback. The DAM and newsletter also supported an in–house feature film that was created about the founders and shown at the Cannes Film Festival. The film included a global road show, stopping at stores and meeting with press. Production and press assets were easily shared with the masses eager to learn how “Laughter is the best cosmetic…so grin and wear it!” – that is, once we figured how to handle super-sized video files!


Banana Republic – As the global marketing asset manager and creative technology advisor for the brand, I am the advocate for DAM and continually strive to impart the importance of best practices throughout the enterprise. I was the first asset manager hired at Gap Inc. and during my first few months conducted an inventory of the systems being used (there were a few!), noting where assets were being stored (so many places!), and trying to determine how to turn a grass-roots approach to DAM into conversations that revealed to leadership at various levels throughout the enterprise the business critical nature of DAM. At it’s core my role involves simplifying the asset management process for our internal and external teams in an environment that often involves dependencies between brands and involves multiple legacy systems. Add to the mix a newly purchased crowdfunded DAM system that isn’t exactly living up to the sales pitch and an exciting partnership with a third-party rights management vendor… It’s quite the puzzle and a perfect environment to test anyone’s DAM chops!

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

There’s the short answer and then the more complex one – it really depends on who the audience is. In my world DAM has involved a lot of inter-related bits coming together to form a whole: project and product management, taxonomy and hierarchy building, metadata modeling, change management, technical writing, help desk and reference desk, QC, trainer, and the list goes on.

I usually start by briefly describing what I do day-to-day by saying I manage a company’s digital and marketing assets, which includes images, videos and docs. These materials are stored in a system, then I determine who has access, apply rights info, and ensure assets are findable. At which point some people will say, “Oh, so you’re like a librarian!” and then I generally respond with a smile: sort of.

Early on in my career I managed library divisions and agree it does encompass some overlapping principles, and because I’m detailed-oriented (and a long-time fact-checker on the side), I know ‘librarian’ isn’t accurate or what I consider myself, even if the analogies can be helpful.

Digital asset management is an emerging new discipline. Just as there are many ways to manage assets, there are many ways people enter into this work. The longer one is in this space and experiences different methodologies, workflows, etc., it becomes clear that what one person considers digital asset management can vary greatly. Another fun question: What is a digital asset management system? This too can be tricky as I discovered while serving as a member of DAM selection committee.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

My career in DAM began just as it was emerging. I have a multi-disciplinary Master’s and was studying interactive media in the 90s while working for archives and museums digitizing their collections. It was a highly innovative time when two worlds were merging and quickly evolving. Digitizing physical pieces and seeing them translated into digital files, and then taking those digital files and creating a digital experience was exciting. Largely, there weren’t any rules for how to manage this ‘new’ media.

In the professional space, museums, and later libraries, were taking the lead ensuring the information about their newly created and ever-growing digital collections was properly recorded, grappling with issues around standards and long-term permanence in both worlds. Meanwhile, in the creative space, artists and designers were at ground zero trying to figure out a number of potentially confusing topics: naming digital files, handling versions, verifying quality and proper format. Then there was storage and backup considerations. Processing digital files was often taxing for a computer which resulted in frequent crashes, hard drives filled up much faster than they do now, and for good or for bad, there weren’t clouds.

I started exploring the born digital space playing around with Photoshop and Illustrator, then experimenting with digital video, creating websites, interactive… It was a natural progression to take the knowledge I’d acquired with my hands-on physical collection experience using the organizational practices I’d developed through academic training and applying that to digital collections. I’ve found that having a creative and technical background turned out to be the perfect synergy for giving me a solid well-rounded foundation for understanding where this field came from and where it’s headed.

So even though I’ve been involved with DAM, or what it started as, for a couple decades, I stay inspired by keeping up with the latest technology trends, etc. This can be done via webinars and conferences. There are monthly webinars on a variety of topics – everything from the basics to vendor–specific product–focused sessions, all of which provide a way to make DAM less of a mystery. Whether attending a webinar or conference, fundamental best practices in DAM, many of which haven’t changed much in the past decade or so, are usually highlighted.

Attending a DAM conference can be a good way to network and interact with vendors. I never tire of the best practice reminders and always enjoy hearing war stories from peers, which provide a lot of great learning in themselves.

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

Not have DAM as a career? It’s hard to imagine not being a part of this field in some way since I love organizing, managing, developing, advising… I’m passionate about the arts & cultural heritage. If I was no longer in the DAM space, front-and-center, I’d most likely be involved in something that incorporates my background and interests, such as protecting our architectural and cultural heritage, preserving our past, supporting the arts and artists.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

My answer to this would have been slightly less emphatic, but overall it’s keeping perspective! Currently I’m helping to identify short and long-term options as my team ponders the question ‘Is the juice worth the squeeze?’ with a new platform that was recently purchased enterprise-wide. Some of us saw early on in the RFI/RFP process that there would be significant challenges with the tool and vendor with the red flags now proving themselves. However, remaining tenacious while working through day-to-day challenges, always keeping the long-term goals in mind helps shake off frustrations. Not allowing derailments to make one lose sight of the objectives is what I advise others. After a year into a murky situation I try to remember my own advice and know that this too shall pass. The silver lining is truly great learning can arise from a less-than-ideal situation.

What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?

Partnership development has brought me great satisfaction over the years. Good partnerships are the key to a successful DAM experience at the most basic level whether it’s criteria gathering, implementation, or user adoption. At a larger level, engaging with vendors on their product roadmaps, working through system challenges together that lead to optimizing their system or service and improving the DAM experience at some level for the larger community, it is so much fun and extremely rewarding.

Recently I discovered a wonderful company that is pioneering the way rights management is handled in the DAM space. I met them at a DAM conference last year and was thrilled to see what they were up to given my background and vigilant interest in this topic. I could see they had an interesting model in place that would benefit many industries and was eager to chat with them about the product. A couple months later they reached out to see if my organization might be interested in piloting their product. A few months after that we participated in a Q&A session at Adobe Summit where they received recognition as one of the ‘Top 10 hottest DAM features for 2016’.

Learning and sharing is what keeps DAM interesting for me. So if there’s a way I can educate and also advance DAM to the next level, that’s success to me.

—–
Would you like to be a DAM Guru Program featured DAM professional? Signup now (for free) or contact your DAM Guru Program manager.

Guru Talk: Mick Roovers – Rabobank

mick-rooversMick Roovers has been doing digital asset management for nearly ten years and understands the value a DAM can bring by having it serve as the backbone for an organizations’ content creation, management and publication processes.

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

I have been working for Rabobank, one of the largest all finance banks in the Netherlands and a global Food & Agri player, for almost 10 years. This entire period I have been working as a Digital Asset Management (DAM) professional, although I wasn’t aware that I was doing DAM in the first few years. I was working as a project manager on the brand portal and asset management seemed just one of the things that “needed to be done”. Currently I am responsible for the Marketing Asset Management of the entire organization. I will be leaving Rabobank within a few weeks, to join IntoAction – a digital marketing consultancy firm, to help other companies getting their Digital Asset Management done the right way.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

Digital asset management is all about getting the right assets to the right people at the right time, by using a central platform for these assets. It involves three steps: creation, storage and distribution. Every step has influence on the other. To be able to distribute the assets, you must be able to find them in the storage, to be able to find them in the storage you must be able to upload the assets with the right metadata. To be able to upload the assets you must have workflows, authorizations, taxonomies in place etc.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

Honestly, most of my digital asset management experience was learning-by-doing. Although there are a few recent publications I can recommend: “Digital and Marketing Asset Management” by Theresa Regli and “Metadata for Content Management” by David Diamond.

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

First: a DAM is not solely a storage. It’s the backbone of your organizations content creation, management and publication processes. Second: don’t try to put everything in the DAM. Put your assets there that add value, that are (re)usable for yourself or others.

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

Good question. I have no idea. I guess I would have found some other specialization in the field of digital marketing, or in the creative branch.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

The greatest challenge is the quality of the metadata. We don’t have a dedicated team to upload all the assets, this means every marketeer has the responsibility to upload his or her own assets. Most of the metadata is based on controlled vocabularies, but still, the quality of the metadata depends on the time and interest people take for it.

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

As I said earlier. A DAM has the potential to be the backbone of your organizations content creation, management and publication processes. With content marketing buzzing around and every company working on a content strategy, DAM is the tool to look at for executing this strategy throughout your entire organization. The DAM can be the central content hub, connected to creation and publication processes in the online and offline world. Maybe even integrating your PIM, DM, CRM, WCM and more.

What was your biggest mistake with regard to DAM?

Not knowing I was doing DAM.

What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?

Getting (almost) every employee of our company to work with our brand portal.

What more would you like to learn about DAM?

I really want to see more DAM implementations at other companies. How do they do it? How do they integrate it in their organizations? The perceived quality and adoption of the DAM is only as good as the way the product was implemented. I think we can learn a lot from each other in communities with DAM professionals.

—–
Would you like to be a DAM Guru Program featured DAM professional? Signup now (for free) or contact your DAM Guru Program manager.

Guru Talk: Gregory Johnson – Governors State University

Gregory Johnson - DAM GuruGregory has extensive experience with multiple digital asset management systems. He has built them from scratch and also managed existing systems. Through these experiences he has learned to change his metadata mindset, to ensure all users of the DAM have success.

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

At Governors State University I managed two content repositories, building one from scratch (a nightmare). At Morgan Street Document Systems I worked as a Project Manager/Archivist and helped build “vaults” for our clients documents. At Masco Cabinetry I built the DAM program, collecting and culling more than 6tb of digital assets from multiple vendors in multiple states, local computers, and local servers.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

I first compare the assets in the DAM to the physical assets around the building in terms of cost to show the need for DAM. I then explain the need for metadata in terms of searching and finding assets as well as the need for a strong DAM management program to keep the DAM running smoothly.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

In graduate school I studies academic archival systems, so the transition to DAM wasn’t too difficult. I just needed to recognize that the assets in the DAM would be used by a far different type of end user, so I needed to change my metadata mindset.

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

Without proper metadata even the most expensive, well-built, shiny new DAM is useless.

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

I come from a library IT background, so I would probably be managing a library IT dept. that would have multiple content repositories, library systems, database and journal suites, and the hardware needed to run them.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

Right now, finding employment managing a DAM system. I was “re-organized” from my last position in another of the many changes of direction the company put into place.

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

Mobile use will finally be figured out. More seamless transition from content creators to the DAM will be realized. Prices will come down. And hopefully the importance of the position of DAM Manager will finally be realized.

What was your biggest mistake with regard to DAM?

Coupled with the answer for 9., being unable to convince that company about the need for a DAM management program. After I built our DAM the program was then crowd managed, which lead to the return of lost and un-findable assets due to the failure of the content creators/uploaders following the metadata schema. I was able to sell the need for the program, but in the end the desire to cut costs neutered the usefulness of the DAM.

What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?

Convincing a company that was very stuck in old school asset management to move their assets from various machines and servers into a DAM.

What more would you like to learn about DAM?

How to better use DAM at content creation that is done off site, i.e. photography, video, audio, etc.

—–
Would you like to be a DAM Guru Program featured DAM professional? Signup now (for free) or contact your DAM Guru Program manager.

Guru Talk: Angie Taylor – Primrose Schools

Angie-TaylorAngie is brand new to the digital asset management industry, but armed with her recent certification in digital asset management, from The DAM Foundation, she already knows one important truth: DAM is a strategy.

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

I am currently the Marketing Coordinator at Primrose School Franchising Company. I received Digital Asset Management certification this May from The DAM Foundation and have been researching DAM platforms seriously for the past couple of months. Our marketing department is considering implementing a Digital Asset Management platform and strategy within our department that I would like to see scale up to benefit the entire company down the road. So, I’m in a very initial/beginner’s mode with DAM.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

DAM is a strategy before its culmination in a platform of any kind. It is a great way to organize and implement strategic vision for any company.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

I would highly recommend The DAM Foundation for anyone seeking certification or education about Digital Asset Management. There are two books that I’ve pored over that I would recommend as well: Digital Asset Management, Second Edition 2016 by Elizabeth Keathley and DAM Survival Guide – Digital Asset Management Initiative Planning by David Diamond.

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

I would either be teaching private music lessons from home or working in accounting.

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

I would love to see DAM become THE central repository for every aspect of our company. For example, the operations department is implementing a system that lists FF&E for all of our schools in the franchising system, along with all of our operational policies and procedures. Also, our franchising department works with a system that allows them to connect to potential franchise owners and gives them a pipeline view of how these potential partners are tracking within our qualification process. These are just two examples I believe could be incorporated into a DAM strategy to help our company work a lot more efficiently in the future.

What more would you like to learn about DAM?

I would like to learn everything I can about Digital Asset Management and, especially, the future impact of DAM on business.

—–
Would you like to be a DAM Guru Program featured DAM professional? Signup now (for free) or contact your DAM Guru Program manager.

Guru Talk: Frank DeCarlo – RPR Graphics, Inc

Frank DeCarlo

Frank is a veteran of the digital asset management industry and understands the most important questions to ask with regard to DAM is the why, who and how. Answers to these questions are valuable in the long game to success.

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

Only one. RPR Graphics, Inc., who worked with a DAM vendor before the internet and before DAM was coined as digital asset management. We customized it and used it in a way to manage scanned chromes for weekly circulars when print was king. Before this, the same work was needing to be done to the same scan, every week and for any ad it appeared in. The DAM vendor we chose, an early digital library solution, served as a means to do that work once and bring it up when it was needed again. Large supermarkets and other retail chains benefitted from our ability to accept and make competitive price and item changes hours before press time.

My role then was a lot of driving from office to office, reviewing changes and edits with advertising teams at the end of the day, bringing it back to RPR for the overnight crew to execute; and proofing the changes early the next morning before everything was sent to the printer. Today, being at RPR for over 20 years, my role has greatly changed from account rep shuffling images and changing pricing within a few hours with an RPR internal DAM, to showing how new clients can readily find and change whatever they need, over any web browser, immediately.

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

Know and understand, fully, why you are getting a DAM, who is going to use it, and how. Even if you are not getting a huge, expensive enterprise DAM, you need to consider the long game—especially in terms of metadata, organization and governance. I am a big fan of not trying to boil the ocean on a DAM deployment. Take it on in chunks. But always try to look a few steps ahead. Look to what other processes and systems you may want to tie into your system and for what reasons.

DAMs are powerful tools that really can become the hub of asset information, but they are only as good as what you put into them. Don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to put every possible tag on every possible asset. You’ll never get the thing rolled out. But be mindful of what the most important asset information is, and be firm about at least getting that on your assets initially. The why, who and how will help you narrow your scope in this regard, and are crucially important to providing your best arguments when dealing with change management. Understand your audiences, and make the digital assets and info relevant to the audiences.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

So much information, so little time! Referring to my answer above, even if you don’t go nuts on asset types and metadata, overseeing a DAM is a big job because you and your team are managing “the hub.” Especially if you have integrations, and interconnecting systems. Lots of spokes, though very cool, also equals lots of spinning plates. You need to be a master air traffic controller, and that can be hard when you hit challenges in one area or another.

Also, the landscape is really changing in terms of user expectations with regard to user experience for enterprise software. People want their DAM to be as easy and slick as a mobile app or Facebook. But you’re not posting vacation pictures. It’s still enterprise software. And to that end, while trying to improve UX, we are all still trying to discern just how far the tentacles of DAM can and should go. For example, though it makes a lot of sense on paper for a WIP (work-in-progress) DAM to be your PIM (Product Information System) or eCommerce system, and a Project Management tool, and a host of other things; the ongoing question is always if it is really the best idea. And the answer to that is very individual to an enterprise.

The industry, I believe is trying to figure out where to pivot their software to become these mega-hybrids. Being practical while wading into that unknown is a delicate balance.

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

I think whether we all like it or not, DAM will be slicker, less complicated, and more connected to other systems and platforms. I think that will be a great thing, as I’ve often been frustrated with just how static these types of system can be. I also think DAM will morph into these other types of systems to become more of the information hub of a larger system that serves various needs. But at the end of the day, that information still needs to go into the system and on the files, somehow, by people with a mind for that long game. So while DAM will change, I think the need for DAM people will continue.

—–

Would you like to be a DAM Guru Program featured DAM professional? Signup now (for free) or contact your DAM Guru Program manager.

Guru Talk: Carol Thomas-Knipes – LogicSource

Director of Digital Asset Management - Carol Thomas-Knipes

Carol’s experience with knowing the why, who and how of digital asset management implementations has enabled her to streamline digital assets and information relevant to the audiences her DAM system serves.

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

I was first introduced to DAM technologies a long time ago as an Art Director at DoubleDay Direct. They rolled out a DAM to centralize product imagery, and I was one of the designers willing to bang around on it, offer feedback, and test things out. I found the whole thing really fascinating. But like so many others, building a DAM did sort of fall into my lap.

I was working for LLNS, a pharmaceutical advertising agency, and they bought a DAM to tame the creative production workflow, and provide better rights management for stock art buying terms. It was the same platform they used at Doubleday, so I let my supervisor know, and next thing I knew, it was mine. I became the System Administrator, and eventually the Creative Technology Director at LLNS, mantles I took on gladly.

I have always loved creative technologies as an early Mac adopter, and I was looking to branch out from the purely design and print worlds. At LLNS, for many years while administering the DAM, I was also a Senior Production Specialist, so I had the opportunity to define DAM workflows, procedures and configurations from the inside, knowing the expected user experience. I think it was very helpful for me to have the knowledge of how people worked to foster the change management needed and maintain system relevance. That still helps me to  this day, and is something that I think is often overlooked in technology deployments.

At LogicSource, I am the Product Manager and all around DAM/Creative & Marketing Technology Subject Matter Expert. I work with a wide range of clients in different industries, implementing DAM and other technologies to provide operational efficiency. I manage everything DAM-related, from discovery and requirements, to configuration, integrations, development, training, and rollout.

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

Know and understand, fully, why you are getting a DAM, who is going to use it, and how. Even if you are not getting a huge, expensive enterprise DAM, you need to consider the long game—especially in terms of metadata, organization and governance. I am a big fan of not trying to boil the ocean on a DAM deployment. Take it on in chunks. But always try to looks a few steps ahead. Look to what other processes and systems you may want to tie into your system and for what reasons.

DAMs are powerful tools that really can become the hub of asset information, but they are only as good as what you put into them. Don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to put every possible tag on every possible asset. You’ll never get the thing rolled out. But be mindful of what the most important asset information is, and be firm about at least getting that on your assets initially. The why, who and how will help you narrow your scope in this regard, and are crucially important to providing your best arguments when dealing with change management. Understand your audiences, and make the digital assets and info relevant to the audiences.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

So much information, so little time! Referring to my answer above, even if you don’t go nuts on asset types and metadata, overseeing a DAM is a big job because you and your team are managing “the hub.” Especially if you have integrations, and interconnecting systems. Lots of spokes, though very cool, also equals lots of spinning plates. You need to be a master air traffic controller, and that can be hard when you hit challenges in one area or another.

Also, the landscape is really changing in terms of user expectations with regard to user experience for enterprise software. People want their DAM to be as easy and slick as a mobile app or Facebook. But you’re not posting vacation pictures. It’s still enterprise software. And to that end, while trying to improve UX, we are all still trying to discern just how far the tentacles of DAM can and should go. For example, though it makes a lot of sense on paper for a WIP (work-in-progress) DAM to be your PIM (Product Information System) or eCommerce system, and a Project Management tool, and a host of other things; the ongoing question is always if it is really the best idea. And the answer to that is very individual to an enterprise.

The industry, I believe is trying to figure out where to pivot their software to become these mega-hybrids. Being practical while wading into that unknown is a delicate balance.

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

I think whether we all like it or not, DAM will be slicker, less complicated, and more connected to other systems and platforms. I think that will be a great thing, as I’ve often been frustrated with just how static these types of system can be. I also think DAM will morph into these other types of systems to become more of the information hub of a larger system that serves various needs. But at the end of the day, that information still needs to go into the system and on the files, somehow, by people with a mind for that long game. So while DAM will change, I think the need for DAM people will continue.

Be a DAM Superhero! Carol was featured in a 2013 webinar in which she provides advice for those managing digital asset management systems on their own, without large teams. View the “Be a DAM Superhero” webinar » (no signup required)

—–

Would you like to be a DAM Guru Program featured DAM professional? Signup now (for free) or contact your DAM Guru Program manager.

Guru Talk: Mary McMahon – DICK’S Sporting Goods

Mary McMahon - Digital Asset SpecialistMary McMahon discusses the value in being open to questioning existing processes and designs with regard to digital asset management. This approach frees you to bring a new perspective that can lead to breakthroughs in an organization’s DAM system.

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

I’ve worked as a DAM professional at the University of Pittsburgh and DICK’S Sporting Goods. While pursuing my MLIS at Pitt, I worked in the marketing department leading the university’s DAM vendor selection process. We began with a needs assessment, and by the end of the year-long project, had narrowed the field to a single vendor.

Currently, I am the Digital Asset Specialist at DICK’S Sporting Goods. I came on board after vendor selection, and implemented the Company’s enterprise DAM system. Now that the system has been established, my team is responsible for continuously improving our DAM program and system, as well as cataloging the lifestyle photography used in customer-facing vehicles.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

In my specific role, it’s maintaining and utilizing relevant rights (administrative), keywords and product info (descriptive), and technical metadata for the photography and logos we use in order to increase productivity and reduce risk of using our assets in ways that make them liabilities.

Increasing productivity for my users can range from simply being able to search for assets based on a style number or name to developing consistent processes that follow the creation of photography through its ultimate use in a Sunday circular or digital experience. As part of these processes, we add in system integrations and automation. Digital asset management is more than a library of images used by creatives; it’s a larger program that touches many areas of the Company.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

I learned about DAM while studying and working at Pitt, and have continued to learn on the job, through conferences and webinars, and by reading. I keep a Google alert for Digital Asset Management, I am a member of various DAM and taxonomy groups on LinkedIn, and read a lot of the same sources that other gurus have noted in their posts. I’m especially indebted to Tracy Wolfe’s ModLibrarian blog. She does a great job at compiling interesting articles and tidbits each week with the “5 Things Thursday” posts.

I take away different things from each type of learning material. When I’m on the job and with my vendor’s resources (developers and support technicians as well as knowledge center material), I can dive into the intricacies that are unique to my particular DAM solution. Conversely, webinars, conferences, and industry articles keep me up to date on the larger DAM environment.

I love learning from photographers and their crews. I work with people who interact with a number of clients; understanding best practices from their experiences helps us build a better program and process from image capture to delivery in print or online.

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

The need to question assumptions is one of the most important things for someone new to digital asset management to understand. A great part about being new to a company or an industry is not having a mindset that if something’s been done one way for a long time, that it’s necessarily the right or only way. Use the lack of experience to your advantage by questioning processes and designs — you’ll bring a new perspective that can lead to breakthroughs and improvement. When you take ownership of your naiveté, you free yourself to build a solid foundation based on best practices rather than the status quo. I know that tip is not specific to DAM, but it is helpful to remember.

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

I love what I’m doing now, and have made peace with being in front of a computer for hours a day, but if I had to switch careers tomorrow, I’d likely be in preservation and outreach at a rural historic cemetery — and then supplementing that endeavor with something that pays my student loans.

I’d get back outside, coordinating preservation projects and getting my hands dirty resetting headstones. I’d research and organize information — creating content — for use in outreach programs. I’d be back out in the community getting to know a patron or visitor base.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

Not everyone on my greater digital asset management team lives and breathes DAM every day like my immediate team does. Being on the front lines is great for learning from my users, and I want to be able to adapt quickly and make changes. My greatest challenge is balancing the desire to push forward and improve, while not overpromising on enhancement requests and bug fixes. It’s one thing for me to work to find the solution; it’s entirely another to commit to finding a solution that requires resources that aren’t mine to allocate.

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

Digital asset management programs will be ingrained in the daily processes of the business, and that most users won’t even realize they’re using it. If I’m doing my job well, we’re creating seamless integrations that support the entire content ecosystem.

What was your biggest mistake with regard to DAM?

Change management when you haven’t questioned those assumptions enough. Onboarding new user groups to a new system and process is an exciting challenge, and if the users don’t feel as though you’ve listened to them or taken their needs into account, you’re going to have a lot of miserable people and poor user adoption.

So go on — ask questions, present suggestions, and challenge assumptions. Know that when you’re implementing a new system, program, or process it’s for a reason. Keep the user as your focus, and work with them to find good ways forward.

What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?

My biggest success goes along with my greatest challenge. Knowing that a DAM project didn’t exist for a time period in one case, and that the user concerns I wanted to address were out of scope for the current project in another, I researched ways to solve the problem and implement solutions that limit the required resources from the greater team. I utilized our governance process to gain buy-in from the team, and kept people in the loop on testing and implementation of the enhancements.

I view this continual improvement as my biggest success because it’s fostering ongoing relationships with my partners on the team as well as my user base. This success wouldn’t be possible if I didn’t proactively work to understand both my users and my system.

I’m fortunate to have great users who reach out to my immediate team for help with navigation and understanding usage rights, as well as partners throughout the Company who enable me to dive deep into the technical aspects of our system.

What more would you like to learn about DAM?

I’d love to learn more about the bits and bytes that make up digital assets. The more we repurpose our photography and add in video, the more the structure of the assets themselves is altered. By having a better understanding of how rich content is structured at a technical level, I will be able to build processes that balance the needs of different delivery channels.

I’m also always interested to hear from other DAM professionals working in a retail environment. At a conference earlier this year, I was able to sit down with another retailer that uses the same software that we do at DICK’S. We shared stories of our users’ distinct needs and compared how we solved similar challenges in different ways. Sometimes just getting out of my regular environment, and conversing with others in the field is a great way to put whatever minutia is bogging me down at a given moment into perspective.

—–

Would you like to be a DAM Guru Program featured DAM professional? Signup now (for free) or contact your DAM Guru Program manager.

  Category: DGP Member Interviews
  Comments: Comments Off on Guru Talk: Mary McMahon – DICK’S Sporting Goods

Guru Talk: Alec Wadey – Tahzoo

Alec WadeyAlec understands that a digital asset management system can become the core of any business, but with that development comes challenges.

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

I have worked for a number of different end clients within my role as Senior Solutions Architect at Tahzoo.  Generally, my responsibility on a project has been to work with the client from the initial pre-sales stage where they have been making the choice around the DAM they will be purchasing for their implementation.

Once this has been completed, I then work with the client during the initial requirements workshops where we define the functional and technical requirements for the actual solution that will be deployed to the end-users. After this stage I generally hand over the project to the delivery team and take on more of an advisory role.

Clients I have worked with during my DAM “tenure” have included JP Morgan Chase, Microsoft, LEGO, The British Museum, Samsonite, Nordstrom and TUI Travel.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

To be honest, I pretty much fell into DAM! One of the consultancies I was working with back in 2007 had signed a partnership with a DAM Vendor and I was asked to get involved in a project and deliver technical training to our clients. The consultancy moved away from DAM so I moved consultancies, since I really enjoyed running DAM projects and all the different business touch points involved.

I think the best sources for DAM are the communities. There are a lot of different vendors, analysts and consultancies with everyone having their own agenda. That being said, people are happy to help. You only have to look at the Henry Stewart conferences, where you can see vendors talking to other vendors, consultancies who are not working with a specific client giving them advice and so on.

I also think that the LinkedIn groups and various DAM websites that are out there can really help.  Almost every question I see raised in a forum has a myriad of different answers from different perspectives.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

Definitely on integration and defining the scope of a project! DAM is great because it very quickly becomes a core element of any business no matter how small or how large, so it is never boring and there is always something new to learn.

However, that also creates the biggest challenge, clients can get so overawed by how big a DAM project can get. With different touch points needed into other systems for everything to meet everyone’s requirements, it can quickly get too confusing. For me, it’s about breaking all of the problems down into smaller tasks and chipping away at them one at a time. You soon find you’re where you want to be, but start small and don’t get too concerned about the size of the project ahead of you.

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

I am not completely convinced DAM will be around in 5 years! Does that mean everyone will be out of a job, absolutely not. As I’ve previously said, DAM is intertwined into so many other elements of the business, I don’t think it will exist in its own right, it will be part of a wider solution offering.

Currently consultancies are involved on DAM projects, integrating all of the different incumbent systems in a client’s infrastructure together. However, more and more we are seeing partnerships between DAM vendors and vendors of other solutions (Product Content Management, Marketing Resource Management, Web Content Management, Workflow, etc), DAM Vendors extending their offering or larger software companies purchasing DAM vendors and integrating the DAM piece into their wider offering.

I believe this will be the direction of DAM in the future. Will this be good, who knows, it has already happened with some vendors to varying degrees of success. What we can be sure of, is there are exciting times ahead and it will be interesting to see where we actually are in 5 years and what the journey has been like.

—–
Would you like to be a DAM Guru Program featured DAM professional? Signup now (for free) or contact your DAM Guru Program manager.