Category: DGP Member Interviews

Guru Talk: Sunil Krishnan – Cognizant

Sunil Krishnan Director of Technology

Digital asset management problems are not completely solved by tools or technology, Sunil knows it requires something else to attain success in the DAM industry.

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

Ford – I was a Program Manager managing a current state to future state road map, assessment along with strategic actionable recommendations.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

DAM is a combination of process, people and technology that helps manages the complete life cycle of a digital asset – starting from ideation, creation, collaboration, approvals , management and effectively distributing assets to call the consumers within in the Enterprise.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

Henry Stewart events, conferences, being active in the LinkedIn groups and local DAM chapters that may have connects to the marketing function.

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

DAM is a journey that has its own maturity curve which needs patience, compelling governance, sponsorship for the enterprise to accept it. In other wards success behind DAM is more than tools – it is the people and process that makes it successful.

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

I would be teaching in local school as I feel spending time with young and new generation is more rewarding or work full time with a non-profit.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

Articulating value of DAM and working closely with less technology savvy functional users and leaders to embrace the basic usability, navigation, relevance of metadata in a meaningful fashion.

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

DAM will be a strategic component in the future Digital workspace race that is going in the enterprise. DAM will be the central nervous system where all the front-end facing content management, social media platforms and other sales (SFDC) and marketing tools would directly integrate or access to consume the central repository of digital assets.

What was your biggest mistake with regard to DAM?

I thought for awhile that just a product or a tool would solve the digital asset management problems, but I was wrong. It’s more of a process, and solutions are people dependent.

What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?

Helping my customers focus on process maturity around metadata, fine tuning search criteria, usabilities, navigations and Governance and sponsoring basic DAM training has been the biggest success.

What more would you like to learn about DAM?

Learning how the many puzzles fit together in the entire Digital work space that is upcoming within the enterprise.

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Guru Talk: Linda Rouse – DataBasics

Linda Rouse - Information Manager

Librarians have a unique skill set that translates well into the digital asset management industry. Linda Rouse explains why this is, and how it has helped her better serve her customers and understand their needs.

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

I am the Information Manager at DataBasics, which is the distributor of digital asset management solutions and services in the Asia-Pacific region, based in Cairns Australia. I am a card-carrying professional librarian and found it was easy to transfer my skills from librarianship to digital asset management. The past decade or so I have been working with our clients and prospects to help them understand digital asset management and how it can help in their day-to-day work, as well as maintaining our own in-house DAM.

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Linda Rouse passed away on 11 March 2017. As this profile shows, she was steadfastly dedicated to the Library Sciences and helping others with their information management goals. Among the many digital asset management-related articles Linda authored was her contribution to the Librarian Tips for DAM Managers series for DAM Guru program. She was a longtime member and supporter of DAM Guru Program. She will be missed.
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My first job was at the State Library of NSW in Sydney as a cataloguer and then as a reference librarian on a busy reference desk. Now I manage the digital content at DataBasics for our website and all our marketing and client communications – helping to educate newbies on what is involved with managing and maintaining a DAM system, writing content on the many aspects of DAM and researching trends as well as tips and tricks to utilise your DAM more effectively. I posted the Image Library Requirements Guidelines that I’d written to our blog last year – as a number of people had mentioned it was helpful. My most recent posting is entitled DAM for Government: Digital Asset Management for the Public Sector and covers specific aspects such as secure access, distribution and media sharing controls, copyright and rights ownership as well as approvals, collaboration, crowd sourcing and content re-purposing.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

With my library background, I find the easiest way to describe DAM is to think of a library but instead of books, magazines and journals etc, we have a digital library of images, graphics, layouts, presentations, Office docs, PDFs, videos and so on.

Primarily I think the main difference is that whereas a library system describes its records in text format, a digital asset management system is visual. But just as “a picture is worth a thousand words”, a good picture is priceless as Deb Miller writes in CMSWire.

Just as a library only catalogues significant items, the best authors and writers rather than everything that is ever published, so similarly a digital asset management system holds the important stuff in your organisation – the images that make up your brand, the presentations that inform and educate, the training videos, records of events, and all the important documents created in your day-to-day work.

Your digital assets are those files that have value.

When it comes to searching and resource discovery, the same cataloguing and classification rules apply, only the terminology has changed a little: what is now termed metadata used to be called descriptive cataloguing; there were subject headings instead of category tree listings and containers. However taxonomies, thesaurii and controlled vocabularies originated in the earliest classification systems and these are still important for large digital asset management systems. For a great source of information about controlled vocabularies and the how and why of using them, with examples, see David Riecks’ website at http://www.controlledvocabulary.com/.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

I learnt DAM on the job really – and I was fortunate that some of my early mentors were people like Jennifer Neumann, the co-founder and CEO of Canto and fondly known as “the mother of DAM”. You can hear Jennifer speak about the early days of DAM in the Picturepark webinar and we have her Australian DAMAP conference presentation on our website in PDF format.

Otherwise, Webinars and White Papers are probably the best way to come to grips quickly with how a DAM works and what advantages it will provide. It is a lot easier than downloading a demo and trying to get it up and running when you are not sure what you are doing! Most DAM vendors have produced videos on their products and often these are specific to particular topics or they may have some of their customers describe their usage as case studies. David Diamond’s DAM Survival Guide is an excellent resource for those just getting started.

There is also a lot of info on social media sites such as LinkedIn – check out the DAM groups that you can connect with that keep you up-to-date with news, events and developments in the industry.

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

Researching your organisation’s needs and in particular, workflows prior to selecting and implementing a DAM system is critical to your success. One of the big challenges to implementing any new system is user acceptance… users need to feel that it will improve their efficiency and make their daily work easier. The DAM Learning Center has an article entitled Digital Asset Management Best Practices: Key Stakeholder Involvement by Jim Kidwell that summarises the issues nicely.

It is important for people to realise that copyright issues, privacy restrictions and version control are critical for any organisation. It is so easy to breach copyright with an image or to use the wrong version of a file. But managing this depends on setting up your DAM system with enough checks and balances via user permissions, watermarking and using a central asset location and other methods that this can never happen.

Take the time to find out your real needs and then pick a solution that doesn’t just provide you with software but with the services you need to implement the system, configure it for your requirements, and train users.

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Guru Talk: Reshma Kumar – Hewlett-Packard

Traffic Manager - Reshmar Kumar

Envisioning and implementing an enterprise digital asset management system from scratch is no small feat, but Reshma has done it successfully and shares her insight on the matter.

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

I started working with digital asset management (DAM) at VeriSign where I brought a DAM solution onboard. Upon the subsequent acquisition of VeriSign by Symantec, I had the DAM solution onboarded at Symantec. At both companies, I managed the respective design teams for corporate marketing.

When I joined VeriSign and Symantec, a DAM system for the management of graphical assets was not in place at either company. This was a painpoint for the design teams at both companies, which were considered the go-to teams for brand assets. They generated numerous graphical assets daily in multiple languages, purchased a wide number of stock imagery, and commissioned photographic imagery. The challenge of housing, managing, retrieving, and making a growing number of assets available globally was daunting and became the impetus for putting a DAM utility in-place at both companies. In my current group at HP, we are looking at improving our existing system.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

In my experience, digital asset management has been about the curation of digital media in a centralized, organized, and meaningful manner. It’s the maintenance and cataloging of a repository of files and access provisioning on-demand. You are essentially filing things away so you can find them when needed.

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

An important point for someone new to DAM to understand is that a DAM solution is a significant investment in capital, as well as time resources. And, it’s really only as good as its implementation. Therefore, ensuring the tool is configured to meet your organization’s specific requirements, being diligent about the administration and usage of the tool, and populating the tool appropriately to ensure it provides the needed value help to drive its usefulness and usage—whether it’s just within a team or the larger organization—and hence, realize an ROI on your investment.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

One of the biggest challenges I found with DAM is workflow. DAM solutions, like many other applications, tend to work as standalone tools versus as part of an integrated corporate system. As a result, they are not usually interconnected to other workflow tools used by teams to enable a seamless end-to-end process. For instance, many teams use a project tracking tool and content management tool which are unlikely to interface with a DAM tool; thereby, making the process multi-pronged and further entrenched in islands of stand-alone applications.

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

The mobile use-case scenario for DAM is an interesting one. While a full feature-set on the mobile platform would be an over-investment, the support of core user functionality like browsing, upload, and download as well as some admin capability hold even present-day value.

What was your biggest mistake with regard to DAM?

When the DAM system was initially implemented and rolled-out, we enabled users to apply metadata keywords they deemed appropriate. As a result, we grew a lengthy and unruly list of keywords, some of which held little meaningful value. There were duplicates in different formats, such as the singular and plural form of the same word, acronyms, as well as the spelt-out versions of abbreviations, internal code names and jargon, and a host of short-forms and interpretations of things. This did not make for a consistent or valuable tagging system. We, therefore, opted for a controlled vocabulary which meant keywords were pre-defined allowing users to choose from a list of available keywords to associate with their assets.

What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?

My biggest success with regards to DAM was putting one in place. Our previous system of ‘no system’ was not sustainable, nor was it working for us internally or with our stakeholders. Putting in place an enterprise-class tool that was specifically designed to meet our needs helped keep us organized, enabled us to be more efficient and productive, and allowed us to better meet the needs of our stakeholders globally.

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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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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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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 Scholastic.ca, as directed by the US parent company ‘Scholastic.com’. 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, Onx.com.

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 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 MTV.com. 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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Guru Talk: Laurel Calsoni – Digital Archivist

LaurelCalsoniLinkedInPhotoWorking in digital asset management for a variety of companies over the past 10 years, Calsoni knows the value of keeping tabs on the industry and staying up on trends through several leading DAM news providers.

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

I have always worked in the advertising and graphic arts industry in some capacity.

Long before I had ever heard the term DAM or Digital Asset Management I worked at an ad agency, Harrison Wilson, as an Art Buyer/Digital Archivist. That was the first time I had “Digital Archivist” in my title. At that time all assets were organized on a server and in a physical archive. As a hands-on digital archivist I applied the trade within the boundaries of a taxonomy and schema on a server. I loved it. Portfolio made a presentation to us on the concept of using a DAM. Unfortunately, the dotcom bust happened, the agency closed and Portfolio was never instituted.

I really got to know DAM and digital archiving through an Assistant Photo Archivist position I held at Chevron. I was part of a large team, each person offering a different set of skills, to build a huge new company-wide DAM system. The strategy of building this DAM was well planned, well organized, and took 2 years to implement. The tasks at this position were very hands-on, such as the digitizing of incredible photography and, to this day, some of my favorites.

For 5 years I held the position of Digital Archivist at Landor, working with servers, a tangible repository, a DAM and historical assets. I had tools and varied assets to work with from design files to photography to historical.

Most recently I was a Digital Asset Manager for MRM McCann. And, for the record, I will mention that for years I archived for a landscape architect who still did blueprints outside of CAD.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

Self-taught. I learned on the job. It was a natural segue from the old school methods of organizing and tracking information, data and assets: databases and spreadsheets.

I regularly follow DAM News, CMSWire, DAM Coalition, Another DAM Blog, among others to keep up on the trends and news.

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

Working with DAM’s cousin, the eCommerce platform in some capacity.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

My problem with DAM stems from DAM staffing – lack of or just lopsided. It seems that companies are willing to license and install the DAM software but stop short of having a proper DAM team in place for the initiative. There are requests for managers to lead a DAM effort but not to implement. My question is, who then is doing all of the work? As a hands-on digital archivist, my love is the content and I want to stay as close to the assets as possible.

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

I don’t know where DAM will be in 5 years, the industry is evolving so quickly. However, I do know that wherever DAM goes I want to be there – surrounded by oodles of digital assets. Cataloging, metadata, tagging, organizing, tracking, ingesting them into a DAM. This would be a super modern state-of-the-art DAM, of course, with API-palooza. Throw in a tangible assets archive and/or repository and I will be in heaven.

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Guru Talk: Allison Pearce – Weber Shandwick

Allison Pearce - Content Manager

Having enterprise success with digital asset management systems for multiple companies, Pearce understands the importance of always being willing to adapt and innovate to meet the needs of this industry.

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

I started working in Digital Asset Management as an intern at advertising agency JWT. At the time, the company was going digital and as part of an intern team I helped to transcode and compress decades of television advertisements to store on the DAM. I was eventually hired by the agency and helped to manage and organize new post-production projects. Additionally, I worked as part of a global team that helped to showcase and elevate the best of the best content produced by the agency across their network.

I also worked for retail giant Victoria’s Secret in their corporate headquarters. There I managed the ingest and trafficking of their extensive library of photography assets, direct from the photo shoot to final output on their website and in catalogues.

I am currently the Content Manager at Weber Shandwick, helping to grow the internal brand.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

As most people aren’t quite sure what I do professionally, I usually explain my job in a simple way: “I organize content.” Content is broad term, so when I elaborate, I usually explain that by using keywords, I help to build structure around assets. The goal is to use data to help make the work our agency produces more accessible to other teams.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

DAM wasn’t something I initially thought I would go into as a career, so most of my learning was on the job. I was fortunate to work with some other talented professionals and be part of vendor scoping and implementations. I also think that one of the key ways to be successful in this arena is to stay relevant. I am constantly staying on top of what is out there in terms of technology, vendors and idea workflows.

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

Be willing to change and innovate. Technology is here to aid companies not drive how they do things. Data should help a company move forward and constantly adapt to changing needs. Not all DAM solutions are going to fit with company culture, so try not to standardize your way of doing things. You should always be prepared to evaluate what the company really needs and focus your efforts in that direction.

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

Photographer or lawyer.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

I find that, especially when it comes to implementation, it’s hard to get others into the right mindset for what the ultimate goals are. I think companies tend to want a solution to help better organize their assets, but the challenge is always getting there. I think that setting expectations when you begin that journey is key. Try a staged approach. Set clear goals for your road map so that you will see success along the way.

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

I think the industry is changing, especially as cloud-based storage becomes a big priority for companies. I am hoping to see more vendors adapt to the changing environments and offer partnerships versus a service to its customers. Some of the best DAM vendors I’ve worked with recognize that they need to work with a company to develop their tool.

What was your biggest mistake with regard to DAM?

I’ve had some experiences in the past where we have tried to fit a digital asset management solution into a scenario where it was not needed. I think better discovery sessions with the teams would have helped to show that—also keeping those groups smaller with key stakeholders. A larger group can get caught in the weeds with simple customizations and lose sight of the ultimate goal.

What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?

As simple as it sounds, I think after implementing a DAM with a team for the first time and seeing how excited they get when the tool helps to cut down on search and make them more productive is a sign of success.

What more would you like to learn about DAM?

Learning from other professionals about their experience is the best way to learn. Seeing other examples in practice can help you maybe move forward with an issue you may have been stuck on.

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Guru Talk: Collin Rickman – Special Counsel Information Governance

Collin Rickman - Digital Asset Manager

Coming from library sciences and archival collections, Rickman now focuses his efforts on helping global teammates find the marketing materials they need to succeed.

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

I am a recent arrival to digital asset management. I am an Assistant Digital Assets Manager through Special Counsel Information Governance, working for a client to manage photographic and marketing assets and get those assets into the hands of a global group of stakeholders.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

To those unfamiliar with any kind of information work, I usually draw a quick comparison between the idea of a traditional public librarian organizing physical things like paper books and making them accessible to an external audience, and a digital asset manager organizing digital things like design files and making them accessible to an external audience. A librarian for digital files.

I also give them the example of organizing their own digital music collections at home. How do you find things if the titles are wrong or missing? What happens if you need to replace some files? What happens if the software glitches? What kinds of file types and qualities do you decide to use? And so on. These are obviously simplifications, but putting it in terms that they can identify with in their own lives usually gets them interested to know more.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

It might be a bit premature to say I’ve “learned” DAM, but on-the-job training is always the best teacher, as well as working alongside a more seasoned professional, if you have that luxury. I also have immersed myself in the subject by taking advantage of great online resources. A couple of my favorites are DAM Foundation and Henrik de Gyor’s Another Dam blog. I’m also looking forward to devouring Elizabeth Keathley’s Digital Asset Management: Content Architectures, Project Management, and Creating Order out of Media Chaos.

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

I’d like to think I’d be a novelist living in a remote lakeside cabin, chain smoking and pounding away furiously on a typewriter at all hours. But, I’d probably be working in a role similar to that of an archivist or special collections librarian, which was what I was doing before getting involved with digital asset management.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

The complexity inherent in workflow process and asset distribution in a large company and how things can change at the drop of a hat. I’ve learned that it is impossible to account for all the various silos that people use instead of a DAM solution because they find the solution inadequate, don’t know it exists, or prefer to do things the way they’ve always done them. The challenge is to keep pushing towards that solution that centralizes and standardizes how a company manages its assets, knowing full well you’ll never reach that 100% on-board participation mark, but constantly reaching out to others, investigating how people do things, and improving your own processes anyways. Always be moving.

What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?

For me, the biggest success is when the stakeholders I support thank me and say I’ve made their jobs a little easier and their workloads a little lighter. That recognition and appreciation of what digital asset management does when it’s working the way it’s supposed to work makes all the detail-oriented work behind the scenes worthwhile in the end. This doesn’t happen very often (we don’t often hear anything until something goes wrong) so it’s extra special when it does happen.

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