Category: Featured News

DAM Guru Program Says Goodbye to Linda Rouse

Linda Rouse

Longtime DAM Guru Program member and supporter Linda Rouse passed away on 11 March 2017.

Linda had been a valued member of the Digital Asset Management community for decades. As a formally trained librarian, she brought to the DAM industry a skill set that helped many DAM professionals understand the important connection between what they were trying to do and what librarians had already been doing for hundreds of years.

Linda was based in Cairns, Queensland, Australia, where she worked with longtime partner Ricky Patten at their company, DataBasics. During her time with the company, she helped countless organizations come to terms with the concept of managing content, and she authored a number of pieces that were well received throughout the DAM community.

Below is a sampling of Linda’s articles:

Linda did a GuruTalk profile on the DAM Guru Program website in 2015. In her profile, she describes her beginnings with DAM and offers advice for others new to the field.

Linda’s obituary was published in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Those who knew Linda knew her as a beacon of wisdom and happiness. One couldn’t help but feel energized by listening to her, or elevated in spirit, just by being around her. She was truly a wonderful human being who cared deeply about many things including, according to her Twitter profile, belly dancing.

Our best wishes are with Ricky, the DataBasics team and Linda’s friends and family.

David Diamond
Program Director
DAM Guru Program

DAM Guru Members React to What’s Holding DAM Back

In a 3-part series entitled, “What’s Holding DAM Back,” DAM News contributors discuss why they think the Digital Asset Management industry has fallen into an innovation standstill in the past few years. We took the question to DAM Guru Program members, whose responses are below.


Doug Mullin:

“I think the challenges of moving from a departmental application to being an Enterprise application is holding us up, because we haven’t quite figured out how to make that leap from an organizational point of view. Who does own DAM? Shouldn’t be IT, in my opinion, although they need to be deeply involved. Marketing is a better bet, but Sales is also touched, as are other departments.”

Doug Mullin is the Digital Assets Manager for Oakley. He has been a DAM Guru Program member since 2014.


Lisa Grimm:

These are two excerpts from a longer response by Ms. Grimm. Read Lisa Grimm’s full response here.

“Jeff Lawrence’s article – customers aren’t demanding clarity, much less innovation. It’s almost depressingly common in our field to discover that the only person in an organization who truly understands how DAM works (or, perhaps, how it should work) wasn’t involved in the purchasing decision; they’ve often inherited something that wasn’t truly fit for purpose, and they don’t have the budget to do much about it. But if the customer does not budget for enhancements or new systems, vendors can’t be expected to pay particular attention; understandably, they’ve moved on to selling their existing solution to a new client. Yes, new features may roll out if a bigger client demands more attention during the implementation phase, but after that, the feedback loop goes quiet.”

“Ralph Windsor’s piece on the role of the media; his points about the truly alarming lack of metadata knowledge give one pause, and the difficulty in measuring ROI certainly takes time away from crafting the perfect taxonomy model. Some DAM vendors have clearly given careful thought to the role of taxonomy and metadata, and considered how users, both administrative and end-user, might interact with that metadata (even if they don’t know they are doing it). But that’s not true across the board, and if DAM enhancements have fallen to someone who lacks experience in that space, it’s difficult to move forward true functionality improvements, since all real DAM functionality flows from useful, well-managed, metadata.”

Lisa Grimm is the Content Librarian for GlaxoSmithKline. She has been a DAM Guru Program member since 2013.


Julie Shean:

Why do I need to invest in one of these plus so many other things?
“It takes more than a year to choose one, more than a year to implement one… Enter enterprise IT software fatigue. We have web content management systems, in the museum world we also have collections management systems, library catalog systems, constituent relationship management systems, and on and on. Oh, and then there’s Sharepoint, so how many of these are we planning on connecting the DAMS to? I’m sure you’ve noticed that many of these other systems are encroaching on your turf.”

What is it?
“I agree with David and Ralph when they point out that vendor sales teams are stretched thin trying to appeal to possible every use-case in every possible sector. Meanwhile, you might be losing touch with your core customer bases. DAMS resist being classified as online media archives or media libraries (too boring, not dynamic enough)… Too bad, personally I think digital media library sounds a lot better than “DAMS”. And if you’re honest with yourselves, the online library catalog is functionally a close analogue. It’s a back-end business system with a public access web interface– and yet many DAMS lack an easy-to-customize public portal.”

Please don’t blame your customers
“Having just put some vendors through a very long RFP process, I can sympathize with a lot of what Jeff says in his “customers” piece, but some of us have been here since the beginning (I’m on my fourth DAM software). I have to say, the constant re-positioning and Digital Marketing management suite-speak is incredibly off-putting to those of us not in that (evidently lucrative) sector. We don’t need to hire the librarians, you do. It’s all so DIY. Can I make a suggestion? Why not come up with a best practices example taxonomy and metadata fieldset for each of the market sectors you cater to? And implement it. Too much work?”

Julie Shean is the Technical Architect at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. She has been a DAM Guru Program member since 2013.


David Nguyen:

“Digital Asset Management has made few improvements in the last few years in how well it actually manages digital assets. DAM solutions all seem to suffer from a lack of vision in how digital assets will be used and how to make that process better. Businesses are hungry for systems that provide processes that solve real problems. Often features and new user interfaces only seek to solve individual problems instead of providing intuitive solutions.”

“The lack of innovation in digital asset management is due to many factors. DAM know that they had a problem but don’t know that they need a solution. DAM vendors know how to solve problems but rarely ask about what solutions are needed. The creation of digital assets themselves does not make it easy to attach the right metadata to make any solution work. Finally, education of best practices and handling assets and consistency in metadata is not provided until well after there is a problem.”

“Industry does not need more bells and whistles but instead needs to focus on producing results. In all honesty DAM software should really only be about 10% of a solution and the other 90% should be about integrating business processes that improves results.”

David Nguyen is the Digital Asset Manager (contract) at The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company. He has been a DAM Guru Program member since 2013.


Tracy Wolfe:

“In order for DAM to move forward, it must provide an imperceptible level of service, not feel like a roadblock. Simplicity, streamlining and standardization are far more important than flashy and sometimes useless features that superficially address the latest trends.”

“Every DAM needs an evangelist to get users excited about and keep them informed of the features and future possibilities of whatever DAM product they are employing and of digital asset management in general.”

“Vendors should stop grandstanding and making up silly buzzwords and devote that energy and fervor to really investigating user needs and ideas, becoming true partners.”

“I agree with something in each article of What’s Holding DAM Back – from the fact that there is no Steve Jobs of DAM, that there are people in the industry that can be trusted, and that ultimately “ the more substantial opportunity for DAM is when digital assets can be integrated with concepts like Linked Data and the Semantic Web.”

“Most importantly, DAM administrators and users should continue to take advantage of every opportunity to learn what others are doing. There are informative and high-quality conferences, blogs, discussion groups and educational opportunities available. Knowledge is power. There is strength in numbers. Choose your battles wisely.”

Tracy Wolfe is the Search Editor at Getty Images. She has been a DAM Guru Program member since 2013.

Have you read the DAM News 3-part series entitled, “What’s Holding DAM Back?” What’s your take? Share with us your thoughts in the comments.

Self-paced Digital Asset Management Education from DAM Foundation

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

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

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

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

But that’s not what happened.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Self-financed, Self-directed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Midcareer Change of Course

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

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

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

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

Unstructured Training to a Point

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

The entire course comprises five lessons:

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

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

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

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

DAM Pros Might Need More

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

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

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

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

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

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

Help with Software Transitions Too

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

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

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

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

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

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

Funding More Advanced Studies

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

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

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

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

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

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


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