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.
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.