Having worked with digital assets since the beginning, Sonnenleiter understands it’s all about workflow.
What companies/organizations have you worked for as a DAM professional? What was your role at each?
I worked as the primary software architect at a company called “The Media Machine”, which was one of the early DAM vendors in the mid 90s with possibly the first fully web based DAM product. I then worked in network management for about 10 years before returning to the general vicinity of digital assets, now running my own company PrintedArt (http://www.printedart.com) that maintains a fine art photography collection and production service.
How do you describe digital asset management to others?
A little bit like a good closet organizing system. It’s not your most attractive piece of furniture, it’s deeply hidden from everybody else, and even on a good day, you need it only once. But if it’s not working, you’ll know immediately.
What’s the most important thing for someone new to DAM to understand about DAM?
In most cases, it is not your primary business, but serves in a supporting role. Digital assets need to not be a problem so that the rest of your business can spend its energy where it is needed. For example, if you maintain a set of images for publishing, you don’t want to spend your time worrying about getting the images into publish-ready state. Similarly, if you have digital assets for sale in an online store, your solution needs to handle the workflow of accepting new inventory, tagging it for sale, promoting it and pushing inventory through the customers’ shopping carts without constant manual interference. So whichever solution you pick needs to be deeply integrated into your company’s operating processes.
If you weren’t doing DAM as a career, what would you be doing?
I’m not sure – maybe write open source software; or work as a ski instructor; or I might return to my roots as a journalist.
What is your vision for DAM? What will it look like in 5 years?
It will be fully embedded. Most people have too many things on their watch list as it is and they don’t want yet another thing to look after, now that they already need to worry about their network infrastructure, the health of their cloud service provider, their social media presence, their marketing channels and so many other things. Digital assets will continue to be managed, but they will be managed inside a larger solution that handles marketing activities, sales platforms, publishing channels or whatever the primary activity of the company is.