See the Forest: 6 Tips for Digital Asset Management (DAM) Sustainability

Photo by Tim Schramm on Unsplash

As technologists, especially in digital asset management (DAM), we often work in feature-rich systems. One system can do a lot and be utilized for multiple purposes. That flexibility and the capability to be a content hub is one of the reasons DAMs have become desired systems in the enterprise.

When implementing digital asset management solutions, we gather requirements, assess our focus technologies, align requirements to capabilities, then go to our tech to build. But, we are in a unique position to take a step back from just feature-function and problem-solving. To see the forest for the trees as it were. To create solutions that are not just purpose-built, but have a sustainable purpose. An ecosystem, not just a shrub.

Here are 6 tips for DAM Sustainability to keep you out of the weeds:

  1. Make sure you can always clearly answer these two questions: “What problems are we trying to solve?” and “What will success look like?”. Keeping these questions front-of-mind will keep you focused on building a DAM solution with a solid purpose.
  2. Don’t ignore processes, content, and data outside of the departments that will use the digital asset management system (DAM). An essential component of DAM sustainability is connecting with people in those departments who can assist you in understanding how the DAM could or will touch their worlds.
  3. Define content providers and consumers of the DAM, including people, systems, and processes. Map them out in detail (e.g. using brief surveys and interviews). Again, branch out. There are likely overlaps and inefficiencies to uncover that are being felt. Improving those processes (if you can) as part of your solution ecosystem will make the solution stronger.
  4. A caveat to #3, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. Shoe-horning a solution where one is not needed does not add value. Pick your battles wisely.
  5. Let the technology inspire you not box you. Many parts of the solution will NOT involve tech. Exposing non-technical issues and solving them in the context of the DAM project can increase its value in the business.
  6. Go back to #1. When you are about to roll out, remember “What will success look like?” equals “What’s in it for me?”. Define and communicate the solution’s purpose, but also tailor the message to all levels. Not just future users, but stakeholders, financial sponsors and the business as a whole. Then check-in regularly to verify value is being realized and felt. Pivot your message, and perhaps solution priorities if needed.

What digital asset management tips do you have? We’d love to hear from you. If you have more DAM sustainability tips, email us! DAM Guru Program would love to publish your suggestions as blog posts. Help other DGP members build and maintain more sustainable solutions.

Carol Thomas-Knipes is the Director, Digital Asset Management at LogicSource.

Photo by Tim Schramm on Unsplash

Guru Talk: Kathleen Cameron – Nest

Kathleen Cameron - digital asset managerKathleen Cameron’s digital asset management experience over the years has shown her that DAM is about the ease in discovering content. If done correctly, users no longer need to be reliant on knowing someone else’s folder structure.

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

My first digital asset management gig was organizing content for the Headlands Center for the Arts in exchange for studio space. I built them a DAM system and created the metadata schema (pre-VRA core). From there I worked at Quokka, which was a sports content provider, and each production team had their own instance of a DAM system to utilize, while the IT department looked into an enterprise DAM solution. It was my first experience working with an IT group and requirements gathering. I learned Dublin Core and built the taxonomy for the Sydney Summer Olympics. I was responsible for building out the workflows to get content into the tool and also responsible for digital rights management.

After my time at Quokka, I began working at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) as their Manager of Digital Content Development. It was not traditional DAM but more of a blended role of digital project manager and DAM manager. My first project was to build a DAM for the health sciences based on HEAL and my last project was submitting the requirements for a systemwide digital library for the University of California. In between I took on digitization projects for the library, as well as helping other departments organize their assets.

The Stanford Graduate School of Business hired me after they licensed at DAM system to manage the school’s content. This was a make-it-work situation as the tool was not the right fit for their requirements, but the IT manager was committed to the product. I grew the collection from 0-36k assets in 3 years with a focus on migrating existing digital collections from outdated servers to the ECM. I built in connectivity with social media so that users could easily push content to YouTube or Facebook, as well as connectivity with the CMS being used and a new LMS (learning management system).

My current role at Nest Labs has returned me to a more traditional digital asset management role. I function more as a Digital Archivist where I am actively collecting and describing content, thinking through content lifecycle and improving workflows. I’ve built out the taxonomy, migrated content from a non-traditional DAM system they were using, conducted user-training and revisit requirements annually.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

DAM is about the ease of discovering content. No longer reliant on knowing someone else’s folder structure, users can find content more readily through structured and unstructured metadata.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

First, it helped that I had a background in analog archives and understood the power of organization and description. In 1992, I looked at one of the first digital asset management tools while working as a library manager for a photo archive in NY. From there, we began planning digitization. I had a great mentor that I worked alongside when I was a photo editor at Benjamin-Cummins. I did a lot of research. I felt it was important to understand structured metadata so I learned Dublin Core – all other metadata schemas are somewhat based on this, so picking those up later was easier. I spent a lot of time working on preservation and taxonomies in grad school. This can be learned outside of the MLIS process, but are important to understand. Active preservation is part of the conversation in higher ed but less so in non-academic environments and is essential to protecting the investment we make when building a DAM.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

Right now it is change management. People get used to the tools they use even if those tools are not efficient. I work with a group that would prefer to work in Smartsheets, Google Team Drive, Box, Jira, etc. instead of one place. We lose efficiency and I don’t always get final assets.

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

The DAM industry goes through cycles. Right now we are in an upswing with a lot of products out there, some of which are too complex and some of which are simply too buggy for the price. I expect that in 5 years, the choices will slim down again with the most stable products remaining available.

What was your biggest mistake with regard to DAM?

One of my biggest mistakes with DAM was being talked out of the right choice for an organization and being stuck with the wrong choice! The effects of something like that last a very long time.

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Guru Talk: Keith McKeon – Hogarth Worldwide

Keith McKeon - Digital Asset ManagerKeith McKeon is a Digital Asset Manager who understands that chasing features, without having a clear vision for the goal of a company’s DAM system, will lead to frustration and failure.

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

I initially started as technical support for clients using our digital asset management system while employed by Hogarth Worldwide. After a year, I took over technical account responsibilities for a few clients. For some of these clients, a full rebuild of their site’s configuration was necessary; others needed more guided training for their administrators. Strictly speaking, I have been a full-time Digital Asset Manager for Johnson and Johnson’s DAM instance. This role was comprised of user-management, training, implementing a quality control process and a full rebuild of their taxonomy among other projects. I currently mentor 2 junior Digital Asset Managers for Hogarth Worldwide and represent the professional services team for Hogarth in the Americas which includes close partnership with out DAM product team and London professional services teams.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

Most of what I know about digital asset management in the commercial, practical sense, was learned by rebuilding and repairing DAM implementations. However, I took a number of classes on image archives and collections while getting my Masters in Library and Information Science (MLIS). I have also had the opportunity to assist the technicians in building the Frick’s image library and scan, and organize a personal library of slides and negatives from my family. There are lots of great places to learn about DAM. One of the best ones has been the Meetup NYC Digital Asset Managers. I’ve gained some insight and had many a conversation with some great panelists. I also recommend attending one of the Henry Stuart DAM conferences if your budget permits.

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

Understand that the best software for DAM will not solve the simplest implementation of DAM unless you know exactly what you need and have a committed team to bringing the use of the DAM into your organization’s existing structure. I’ve seen too many instances where the client chased features and either oversold or did not clearly communicate to their internal teams what the DAM software was for. Lastly, make sure the software you choose has a stellar support team and by support, I mean beyond a simple front for answering technical support tickets. In your first year, it is worth paying a little more for at least %20 of a person from the vendor to ensure you are capitalizing on your investment and they hear where your pain points are. If the product isn’t performing, don’t rely on a support ticket alone to give you the final answer. It is highly possible an alternative method of working can solve your problem and any good support team will be grateful for constructive feedback.

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

This depends on the industry. For creative and marketing agencies I see it becoming nearly indistinguishable from other parts of operations. The proverbial “upload” button or, event that moves content from one stage to another will become more transparent in creative operations. Creative software can publish directly to a DAM and integrate with custom metadata requirements set by other tools in the workflow process. As DAM is better understood, it will become integrated as part of the larger content management strategy. Success will be measured by the ability to meet tighter deadlines and less time scrambling for information across other channels of communication. For other industries, like archives and libraries it’ll remain much the same on the surface, but I expect deeper levels of metadata and more connections to other archives will develop and hopefully, unique collections will be easier to find. The so called ‘invisible web’ will become more visible by AI provided paywalls and standards continue to develop.

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New Digital Asset Management (DAM) Conference Arrives in New York

A new digital asset management (DAM) conference is on the horizon in 2018. Organizer ‘Insight Exchange Network’ is presenting their Digital Assets & Content Leadership Exchange in New York on January 22-24, 2018. It looks to be a conference focused on educational insights from many in the DAM and Content industry.  The three days span a variety of industries, speaking about innovation, efficiencies, strategies, and evolution in the industry.

A brief description from IEN website:

As content velocity increases and the volume of digital assets grow exponentially, maximizing those assets’ value hinges on managing them effectively. Navigating the growing number of technologies and strategies to steward your organization’s digital assets and content to ensure their greatest ROI requires substantive solutions! 

This uniquely crafted event is practitioner-led and focused on the current challenges facing asset and content managers, how to generate additional value from your assets and content, the ins-and-outs of the evolving role, career path planning, and strategies to elevate your position within the organization.

Many of our very own DAM Guru Program members will be participating in this conference come January. Some digital asset management experts who are scheduled to speak include Jennifer Terbosic, Nila Bernstengel, John Horodyski, Alexander Karinsky, Carol Thomas-Knipes, Henrik de Gyor, Jennifer Anna, Margie Foster and many more.

Stay informed during the event with their conference hashtag: #IENDAM or learn more on the Digital Assets & Content Leadership Exchange Conference Website.


The Digital Asset Manager (DAM) Salary Survey Returns!

The former DAM Foundation’s Digital Asset Manager salary-focused survey has found new life as a DAM News special initiative.

Fellow DAM Gurus Ralph Windsor, Elizabeth Keathley, and Deb Fanslow have brought it back and expanded it. Not only are they capturing compensation and salary information, but gathering wide-ranging data on job responsibilities, professional education, and work-life balance. We are hoping ALL of you participate. The survey is an annual assessment on the scope of digital asset manager pay and work that seeks to analyze employment trends industry-wide.

The survey questionnaire is available HERE:

With so much growth in the DAM industry, this survey will provide a valuable resource for DAM professionals. The higher the participation, the better we all understand the range of opportunities available in our industry. Please participate!

7 Tips for Digital Asset Management (DAM) Meetup Group Sustainability

When I started out as a digital asset management administrator, one of my first stops was to the NYCDAM Meetup Group.  I had heard about them at Henry Stewart and Createasphere and was seeking real-world advice on best practices, user acceptance, and a host of other issues involved in managing a DAM. No disrespect to our vendor friends, but I needed to know less about the art of the possible, and more about day-to-day reality.

NYCDAM was just what I needed. I met so many wonderful, smart people who were so willing to share their experience and expertise to help me succeed. Not only did I learn about a wide range of topics and issues, but I got to share my own experiences and get feedback—a helpful thing for professionals at all levels. Over time, I went from regular attendee to occasional panelist, to eventually becoming an organizer.

This year, as a result of my roles with DAM Guru Program and the NYCDAM Meetup group, I had more contact with meetup organizers and members. I started to notice a trend of DAM and Content Management Meetups losing momentum, and not having as many events. Then, this summer, three or four organizers of Meetups dropped out, and a few other Meetups just ended. Some of the reasons are probably fairly common: Lack of time and resources, low attendance at events, lack of sponsorship to offset costs. It’s a hard thing to do and sustain on your own, I know well.

The NYCDAM Meetup has shifted organizers a bit in the past few years, but from those shifts, I’ve gleaned sustainability tips for growing and strengthening a Successful DAM Meetup Group:

  1. Reach out and ask other members to be co– or assistant organizers. If you are running a Meetup on your own, as it grows and becomes more successful, you will eventually find yourself buried, and the Meetup will fall by the wayside. Running an entire Meetup can become overwhelming, and it’s a lot to manage when you already have a full-time job.
  2. Allow people to be involved at varying levels, and try to have 3 or more organizers at each level. Spreading the workload prevents burnout, but also brings more ideas to the table:
    1. Main Organizers: Long-term commitment and vision. Oversee general running of the group. Provide 10,000-foot-view of goals of the group and its events. Networks with industry people, in and out of the group, to grow membership and expand event scope
    2. Event Organizers: Short-term, high-level commitment for duration of event planning. They pick the topic, lead and collaborate on the panelists, subject and agenda. Manage event logistics
    3. Event Assistance: Short-term, low-level commitment. Much needed “boots on the ground” on the day-of
  3. Involve vendors, but be sure you define the rules of the road. You likely want your events to be user-focused and not devolve into vendor marketing or demos. But, your vendor contacts can introduce you to potential members and panelists, or can provide appropriate venues at little or no cost. See if they can connect you with users in your area who can share their experiences and a user-based view on varying technologies. Remember that vendor’s tech may only be one in their integrated solution stack. That perspective could be very helpful to meetup members.
  4. Associations can be another great resource for speakers, topic, and venues. Reach out to your local library, tech, or archiving associations to see if they will partner with your Meetup
  5. Use online services/apps to stay connected with organizers at all levels. Many collaboration services have free options that are sufficient for a small group like a Meetup. Here are a just a few that we and many other groups use:
    1. Slack (collaboration and event management)
    2. Zoom Conference (high-quality web & video conferencing. Note: the free option limits you to 40 minutes per call, but that actually makes your meetings surprisingly efficient!)
    3. Google Hangouts (collaboration & video conferencing)
    4. Doodle (polls facilitating meeting scheduling)
  6. Sign up for Meetups just outside of your area that are thriving. Partner with other meetups in your state or wider geographical area. If the Meetup is thriving, you may be able to connect with members who are willing to be speakers at your events as well, either in person or virtually. And, in general, it will expand recognition of your group in other areas.
  7. Ask your members for help. If general tasks become overwhelming, get your membership involved. They don’t need to take on full roles; but on an ad hoc basis, they can help you sustain the Meetup group’s momentum.

Do you have any other suggestions? We’d love to hear from you. Many of our members belong to Meetups or are organizers themselves. If you have some sustainability tips for a DAM Meetup Group, email them to me! DAM Guru Program would love to publish your suggestions as blog posts. Your advice could help fellow DGP members keep their groups going.

If you are looking for Meetups in your area, check out our Meetups Page with a handy list of known DAM-related Meetups worldwide. If we are missing one, please let us know and we will add it to the list!

Guru Talk: Mark Leslie – Adidas

Mark-Leslie-Digital-Asset-ManagerDigital asset management professional, Mark Leslie explains the full power of DAM can only come into play after you completely understand the business processes of where the assets are created and how all audiences that make use of the assets.

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

For the last 14 years, I have worked with adidas in North America, specializing in licensed professional sports apparel and headwear product creation. During that time I held multiple roles: Production Art Manager for apparel, Senior Design Manager for all adidas licensed product, and Senior Manager of DAM for all North American product teams. In all of these roles I drove a high level of collaboration across teams in multiple geographic locations and very high volumes of product related asset creation and delivery.

I have always been a passionate thought leader and very energetic driver for continuous improvement in the Visual Art, Design and Creative Operations space. One of my core beliefs is to leave everything better than I found it, so my natural tendency has been to promote and give back to the DAM community. I have written numerous blog posts and articles about DAM and Digital Supply Chain topics. I have been a frequent panelist and presenter at Henry Stewart DAM in North America. I was invited by Adobe to present a case study at SUMMIT in 2017. And I’ve received peer recognition in the DAM space – interviewed me as part of their DAM Champ series, and I have been featured on an episode of Another DAM podcast.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

How I describe DAM depends on my audience. For the business user, I like to describe DAM as the virtual counterpart to the physical supply chain by using the term Digital Supply Chain. Business people understand the processes by which products are made, held in inventory, and sold. Raw materials come together to create the product. Finished products are stockpiled in inventory until they are delivered either to a retailer or sold directly to the consumer. A remarkably similar value chain exists for digital source files, which when combined with other files and descriptive information attributes, become digital assets. These assets are held in the centralized and structured storage called DAM, where they await future manipulation or delivery to their ultimate audience.

If I’m talking about what I do in a casual setting, I describe digital asset management as similar to trying to wrangle the mountain of digital photos we all have, or creating playlists in iTunes. Everyone has some experience with the challenges of trying to organize and locate more digital assets than they know what to do with!

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

The most important thing to understand for someone new to digital asset management is that its full value and power can only come into play after you completely understand the business processes where the assets are created and all the audiences that make use of the assets. DAM is simply software and technology used to accelerate and empower work getting done. And once DAM captures those assets, more opportunities for collaboration and delivery are possible because there is now a single source of truth. And while the technology of DAM is a powerful enabler, the needs and methods it supports must relate to the human factor.

On the creation side are people who imagine, request, and create assets while they are seeking ways to collaborate and be more effective. In the audience for assets are people searching for the latest fashion, the sleekest cars, or exciting food or adventures at their fingertips. All the ways we capture assets, describe them in detail, and instantly deliver them where they are needed are parts of the big picture. DAM plays a key role, as part of the overall Digital Supply Chain, to make all of these things happen seamlessly when we do our jobs well.

What more would you like to learn about DAM?

With the depth of experience I have in the design process, leading creative operations, workflow automation and DAM, I would love to extend my horizons out beyond DAM into the marketing and use analytics realms. The insights into what makes the appropriate asset resonate with its intended audience not only create the payoffs for the marketing process, but could also be folded back into the creative teams to accelerate the front end development of those same visuals. Technology is constantly changing, markets are constantly changing, and Digital Transformation will continue as an ongoing process. Couple all of this with machine learning and AI and this is an exciting time to be directing these intersections between creativity, people, and technology.

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Guru Talk: Yumiko Saito – Amazon

Yumiko Saito - Digital LibrarianWorking as a digital asset management professional can take many paths. Yumiko shares her’s with us, and helps to illustrate the importance of one’s collective experiences when in a DAM professional role.

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

Technically my role here at Amazon is my first official role as a DAM professional. The road that got me to this point had a lot of turns and dead ends. I started my librarianship career as a Catalog Librarian at Syracuse University. In that role, I was creating metadata to describe physical library collections and managing physical locations of these library materials. I was very happy working as a Catalog Librarian but I felt there was more to do, more information resources to organize than just library collections.

I wanted to expand my experience outside the world of academic libraries so I moved onto roles such as a Content Manager for the Cornell Animal Health Diagnostic Center where I was organizing institutional resources to aid in passing accreditation.  Then onto the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center as an Assay Data Coordinator in the hopes that I would be assisting with organizing research data. That unfortunately was a dead end but that role positioned for my next role as Sr. Metadata Librarian at ProQuest.

For those of you who don’t know what ProQuest is, ProQuest a global information content and technology company. In my role as Sr. Metadata Librarian, I had to manage the migration of data from our providers onto the ProQuest platforms. It is during my tenure at ProQuest, through varying roles (Metadata Librarian, Content Production Lead, Content Ingestion Developer), I started to bridge the gap to being a DAM professional. Working at ProQuest gave me the opportunity to work with not only digital print (newspapers, journal articles, etc.) but also art collections, video, audio, market data, etc. While I was technically working with content management systems, it was a hop, skip and a jump away from DAM systems.

I have just entered the next phase of my career as a digital librarian here at Amazon. The needs of the user base are vastly different just as they had been in all of my previous roles but the outcome is the same. All users have the expectation of using a system that will store and organize assets and make them searchable and retrievable in the easiest way possible. That has been the theme of my career path. A winding, twisting and turning road it has been.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

One of the most easily digestible definitions of DAM I have found that explains DAM to lay people is from

“Digital Asset Management (DAM) is a collective term applied to the process
of storing, cataloguing, searching and delivering computer files (or digital
assets). These may take the form of video, audio, images, print marketing
collateral, office documents, fonts or 3D models. Digital Asset Management
(DAM) systems centralise assets and establish a systematic approach to
ingesting assets so they can be located more easily and used appropriately.”

If that doesn’t work, I tell people, “I organize things so people can find them later”.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

As you may have gleamed from my introduction, I did not have the most direct path to DAM. My path to DAM was certainly through trial and error and on-the-job work experience that evolved over time.

I made an effort through my career to get as much extra training as could be afforded by myself or the companies I worked for. I took continuing education classes through local community colleges and universities to improve my technical skills like SQL, Python, CSS and HTML. I was lucky enough to work at a university where I was able to take classes at the School of Information Studies and get a second Master’s degree. I attended relevant workshops through ALA (American Library Association). I took free online courses available through Coursera and

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

If I were not in my current role, I would still be in librarianship. My strengths are in my organizational skills and experience with metadata management. I would be happy moving into a role where I got to utilize both, whether that be in the academic, public, or private sector. Or I would be a helicopter pilot.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

My current challenge is looking beyond the DAM and foreseeing what future features users will be expecting 5, 10, 15 years from now with their DAM system. I misplaced my crystal ball so through a lot of user interviews I am collecting the wants and needs from our user base and extrapolating what features we will want to develop to make our DAM the best tool for our users.

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: Annella Mendoza – MAM Librarian & Archivist

Annella Mendoza - MAM Librarian and ArchivistStraight and to the point, Annella offers a clear look at what it takes to own the success of media asset management systems over the long-term in this industry of DAM professionals.

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

I’ve had a long-term practice as a moving image archivist focused on film. Then I moved on to television librarianship. In 2006, I was tasked to establish the digital video archive at The Weather Network (Canada) and, as Supervisor of the Content Archive, lead a small archive team.  The digital archive started out as proof-of concept and to attain a critical mass of digital video assets. A relatively simple MAM solution was used, out-of-the-box, no customization. E-mail advisory support from the developers was the only added feature. My research on digital archiving was self-directed. Operations were mainly a discovery of the organization and “behaviour” of the digital media, with plenty of valuable input from the archive staff, middle management, and the users. I was slowly coming to the realization that digital archiving was not an isolated undertaking but required the participation of its users and stakeholders.

By 2013, with the roll-out of a 2nd generation MAM system, my role evolved from archivist to Media Asset Management Specialist. It came with new responsibilities to regulate content metadata, provide training to new users, ensure user satisfaction especially from the creatives, and submit reports using the MAM analytics – all these on top of the maintenance and promotion the archive. By that time, I had standardized metadata practices, experienced two major migrations of digital assets, evolved policies on high value digital media assets and rights management. It was also exciting to function within a evolving DAM community of users and stakeholders.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

Digital asset management or DAM is organizing, regulating, and making accessible works or properties in digital form to a community of users within an organization, utilizing a work group or enterprise system developed specifically for DAM. Equally important is the awareness that DAM functions effectively within a community of DAM users and stakeholders (always have to emphasize this), each one aware of their responsibilities towards the DAM and consequences of non-action.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

I first learned about DAM when I was hired by The Weather Network in 2007 to operate and regulate the media assets – in analogue and digital formats – and establish its first digital media archive. It was from an archive and library perspective. Much of the learning was first self-directed through research, some networking, and gaining insights into my day-to-day practice.

I later learned that DAM can be formally studied; then signed up and earned my certificate in Digital Asset Management from the DAM Foundation in 2015. It was good to know that my practice before studying the course were sound and valid.

Today, there are many sources about DAM.  For a beginner professional, I would recommend Elizabeth Keathley’s Digital Asset Management: Content Architectures, Project Management, and Creating Order Out of Media Chaos: Second Edition as a textbook or main reference work.  DAMNEWS and Planet DAM will familiarize the new practitioner with up-to-date professional issues and developments.  Whenever possible, practitioners should attend meet-ups and conferences.  Networking is even more important today to continue discussions about DAM as it continues to change and evolve.

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

There are two important things to understand DAM, for someone new to DAM.

a.    Digital assets created or acquired by the organization can easily be found and shared by many who are authorized to use these assets.

b.    DAM operates best in an environment where there is shared responsibility by all its users.

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

My foundation discipline is librarianship and archiving, so it’s likely I will practice this profession. I imagine that DAM is inevitably in the picture, more like DAM in librarianship or in cultural practice. I enjoy writing; for my professional writing now, I write about DAM. I have done a travelogue and family history writing and self-published 2 works along this line. There are a few projects lined up so that will continue.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

My greatest challenge was backtracking on the digital assets that I’ve already worked on in the MAM.  It’s usually completing metadata. Metadata standards were still developing and I would have liked the complete information to be applied to all assets, even if that meant revisiting thousands of them. At that time, the MAM was not yet so sophisticated and batch processing was not always a reliable practice using our MAM solution. Having the vendor do this meant added costs which were not recommended. I ended up with adding extra time. In hindsight, I had to learn to let go and accept that there are imperfections and gaps found in the earlier works and that it simply got better with the more recent submissions.

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

I would like to see total integration of DAM with other business functions: with creation / production / acquisition, marketing / sales, library / archive, analytics and finance, other relevant functions that should enable assets to move smoothly from one function to the other. Associated metadata are being updated and made accurate as the assets move from one function to the other.

What was your biggest mistake with regard to DAM?

My biggest mistake was not speaking well of the first MAM system given to our group when I was supposed to advocate it. Those were early days; our MAM system was limited to an out-of-the-box application. However, showing my frustrations to users other than my department was not helpful and delayed any satisfaction that should have resulted in their using the MAM. I ended up with more work providing service when the first MAM system should have been a self-serve solution.

What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?

My biggest success was user satisfaction achieved when using the 2nd generation MAM to effectively search and retrieve the assets that they need and want. Bear in mind that there were users who also expressed their difficulty with it; but positive responses from others encouraged me to be more patient and customize my training to suit individual needs. Equally successful were other users successfully submitting their works and associated metadata to the MAM.

What more would you like to learn about DAM?

I wish to learn how DAM is used in marketing, media planning, social media, and external customer experience. I know best how it is used in creative operations. I wish to know the differences between using DAM for creatives and DAM for marketing, social media, and monitoring customer experience.

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Guru Talk: Kelly Pepper – InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG)

Kelly Pepper - Digital Asset ManagerDigital asset management systems require the admin to have a variety of skills to be successful. Kelly Pepper has experience across the spectrum that clearly illustrates the benefit of this need.

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

I started out in digital archives after graduate school—first digitizing content for genealogical research and then for a grant-funded project at a state university library.  The experience I gained through those roles translated well into the business sector for my first DAM job with UPS as an Archives and Digital Asset Management Supervisor.  I kept my pinky toe in the archival world, but really dug into the administration and use of a DAM in a corporate setting.  I did mostly outreach to expand our audience, led user training, organized quality audits of our legacy metadata, and lots of testing and troubleshooting.  I joined InterContinental Hotels Group as a DAM Manager (a title that never gets old) to launch our first true DAM and am in the middle of that implementation now.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

It can be a tricky topic—my mother still doesn’t “get” what I do.  But I try to tell people that digital asset management systems (DAMs) make our important files findable, rather than losing everything in your email inbox or on several hard drives.  They allow groups of people to better share and collaborate with their important files, something that resonates with businesses when they associate time and money with those actions! It’s simply making information accessible, whether it’s archival materials or brand/marketing collateral.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

I learned digital asset management on the job.  Nothing is as powerful as experience, particularly considering how unique each system and business can be.  Of course, you can build foundations through resources like Henry Stewart conferences and webinars.  I was fortunate to work with The Real Story Group on a DAM strategy project while at UPS, and found their knowledge and direction to be a great help to my overall understanding. They also taught me the importance of knowing your users and their use cases, so sometimes your best resource is your co-worker or customer!

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

You’re going to need a plethora of different skills! You’ll probably be the lone DAM admin or on a small team, so you’ll find your remit ever expanding.  You need to be technically astute and have the soft skills required to persuade new users/teams to come aboard.  Another important thing is to be patient—DAMs bring change and often resistance.  Be strategic and keep pushing.  There is more and more data available to prove that you’re fighting the good fight.

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

I’d likely be using my history degrees in an archival institution or museum.  Although most days, I wish I owned a cat café.

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

Assuming the robots haven’t taken over completely by then, DAM should continue to be more automated and more integrated.  It’s not just a repository anymore, and I see more vendors really pushing to make that sentiment a reality. The less manual processes involved and the more systems integrate, the easier user adoption will be, which is my ultimate vision.  I think it’s a good time to be in this field, as more organizations are realizing the power of a strong DAM and need the resources and expertise to implement them.

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