Guru Talk: Kim Phillips – Bass Pro Shops

Kim Phillips - Digital Asset Coordinator

Kim knows that the rollout of a digital asset management system can make or break it with the end users. She offers some great tips with regard to introducing a new DAM system company wide.

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

I started learning about the Digital Asset Management industry in 2007/08 while working for my current employer Bass Pro Shops. In 2010 we started using a DAM service and I was involved heavily in the setup of the system from an end user perspective.

At present I’m the Image Asset Coordinator in charge of asset ingestion, taxonomy, training, troubleshooting, and general administration of the database for about 150 users, and the font librarian for the Creative department.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

I explain the bare bones of what I do, which is essentially an image librarian for the thousands of assets we have on file. In that scenario DAM is about sorting and filing those assets in a database so the entire company can easily access them, instead of by a single librarian.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

My learning experience was all by touch, which I’ve found is the case for many people in the industry. We had stock photography cd’s sitting in a back room of the photography department that needed to be accessed by the creative department. I was a project traffic person and moved over to organize the assets and started the process of adding metadata to files and moving them to a server for the creative staff. That eventually morphed into the DAM library we have online now.

I actually had two premedia vendors talk to me at length about DAM. One of the vendors was very much ahead of the curve in terms of where DAM was going and I learned a lot from them. They pointed me towards Real Story Group and we were able to purchase the Real Story Group DAM Vendor Evaluation report. That was the best resource I encountered that went straight to the heart of DAM systems that would best meet our needs as a company. I also read articles on CMSWire. My other favorite resource is other Asset managers via LinkedIn groups or networking at DAM functions.

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

DAM requires a lot of groundwork before rollout. I’ve heard stories of partial DAM rollouts that soured the end users on the whole system before it even got off the ground. So here are some tips that helped me:

  • Understand the nature of your company’s assets and who the end users are. When I started out the thought was the assets were just for the creative group. As I started talking with people in various departments I realized more people needed access for a variety of reasons (video stills, press releases, web banners, and print pieces).
  • Get feedback from people across several departments on how they would search for an asset. We found that some groups search by sku (typically merchants) some are more comfortable with keywords and a few just want to browse folders to see what’s out there.
  • Have a good roadmap for implementing the DAM. Most DAM vendors will work with you on this. I’m always cautious if a vendor says at the outset “we can customize that for you”. That usually ends up being costlier in the long run.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. There are no stupid questions in this business. Also, ask to speak to other users before you make a final decision. A few times I discovered that clients bought a very robust system they were barely using because it didn’t play well with their other databases but they’d already written the check.

What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?

Prior to the implementation of the DAM tool most of my time was spent finding and delivering assets to various people throughout the company. Instead of focusing on newer assets and getting them in to the database in a timely manner, I was a courier. Seeing the DAM tool rolled out to the company drastically changed my workload and allowed me to focus more on the user experience and ingesting new assets into the database.

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Guru Talk: Monica Brady – Allied Vaughn

Monica Brady - Content Management Specialist

When it comes to successfully securing and growing a digital asset management system in the corporate world, Monica knows to get the support of multiple departments and to listen to their feedback.

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

I came to digital asset management while working on MLIS at Wayne State University. In addition to the MLIS, I took the extra classes to earn the graduate certificate in archival administration, which required an archival practicum. After creating a digital collection in Archon for a digital archives class, I was placed at the Voice Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive.

While at the Voice Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive I processed the Linda Fredin Cavelero Mid-High children’s book collection. I digitized the book pages, cleaned them, and converted them to a flipping book format for publication on the archive’s website. I later worked in the archive as a research assistant, transcribing audio testimonies and prepping the audio clips and transcripts for the website.

From there, I moved to corporate archives at Henry Ford Health System where I worked in the graphic design and photography department under the marketing umbrella. Five years prior, the department had purchased a DAM system but never completed the process of uploading and indexing content. During my tenure at HFHS, I created the taxonomy and then uploaded and indexed the assets. I managed the general collection of images as well as created and managed several sub-collections, including historic architecture, the physician portrait gallery, and a side collection of dermatology images for the dermatology department’s private use.

In my current position as Content Management Specialist at Allied Vaughn, I work with several different DAM systems in the indexing of marketing and historical still and moving image assets for automotive companies.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

How do I describe DAM to people who ask what I do? I tell them I describe images or other assets by attaching searchable keywords to them, just like a library catalog or how they might search for something on a store’s website or how they might search for “horror” on Netflix. People seem to understand that right away and it piques their interest enough to ask a lot of follow-up questions about the kinds of assets I get to see, especially now that I am in working with assets that a lot of people have as a hobby!

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

I learned digital asset management a little when I was in library school, but that was six years ago, and a lot has changed even within the program I went through, but I did learn a bit in a digital archives class I took. Our capstone project was creating a collection of images in Archon. I worked with two other people who were in the class working on a records management certificate. The project was a good foundation for building the collections at HFHS, which is where I learned most of what I know. So, I guess I was fortunate in that respect since I had to basically learn everything on my own and then teach a team of about ten how to use every aspect of the system.

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

I think the best advice I could give to someone new to the field is to talk up the system across departments as much as you can. If you’re working in the corporate world, your relationship with the IT, marketing, photography and graphic design, and even philanthropy departments could make or break the growth of your system. DAM is not cheap, so if you can “sell” your “product” to other departments to create specialized collections for them, it will benefit the department you’re working in by offsetting your costs and will create value for your company down the road. You also have to be open to suggestions from your users and stakeholders even if it initially requires a bit more work on your end. Always be thinking of how the system might be used in the future!

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

If I wasn’t doing DAM or working in an archive or library, I would probably still be teaching or doing freelance editing. Honestly, I’d really like to be a full-time student if I could!

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

My greatest challenge with digital asset management is a tendency to over-index and classify, especially since every collection (even those in the same organization) is different. As information specialists, I think we sometimes tend to want to be armed with as much information as possible, but in DAM, too much information can big time-waster for all involved due to false hits, hits on materials users can’t use due to rights restrictions, and then the time it takes to remove the extra metadata.

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

With my digital asset management origins in a corporate marketing department, I see DAM as an essential part of brand marketing and within the next few years, even becoming the core of corporate marketing departments. I also think it will become a greater source of revenue for companies, both in cost-savings by using repurposed assets but also in the selling and distributing of some assets within collections.

What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?

I would have to say my biggest success with regard to digital asset management was getting the DAM system fully functional for the graphic design team at HFHS. When I left, there was still a large backlog of old assets to upload, but everything new was being entered as it was created, and the rest of the system was beginning to see how valuable the system was to the organization as a whole, and it was really taking off with leadership.

What more would you like to learn about DAM?

The area I feel I am most lacking in DAM right now is the back-end architecture. There have been times I’ve had to rely on a “hired gun” to add plug-ins or manipulate the system for me, and it would have been a real time and money-saver if I had known how to do those things. I know there isn’t one system out there that’s perfect for every company or user, but it would be nice to be able to create one.

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Guru Call: NYC DAM Meetup “Speed Networking” Event – New York, NY

USA FlagThe leaders of the world’s largest DAM Meetup, the NYC DAM Meetup, have asked DAM Guru Program (DGP) to find members who are interested in participating as mentors in their “Speed Networking” event, scheduled for September 16, 2015.

Interested members should contact their program manager. Your information will be passed on to the DGP member who is organizing this DAM Meetup.

Reminder, you must be a DGP member for your information to be shared with the inquiring member.

More information about this special event is available online.

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Guru Talk: Maile Thiesen – UMass Amherst

Maile-Thiesen

With the speed in which our modern digital asset management industry changes and shifts, Maile knows it’s pretty much a requisite to continually be reading, learning and analyzing DAM forums, discussion groups and educational content currently available online.

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

UMass Amherst is my first job as a Digital Asset Manager, however DAM has been essential throughout my career in photography and the film industry. When I worked in San Francisco, I helped develop and implement taxonomies for a media company with forty video editors. The DAM system housed a large collection of stock music and videos that were instantly accessible to video editors who worked on extremely tight deadlines. We successfully launched the DAM system and the editors’ creativity went through the roof once they had access to searchable collections of music, sound effects, stock videos, and after effects templates.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

Dropbox on steroids.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

DAM as a concept is an integral part of any photography or video editing workflow and is a necessary skill when doing any large scale project. I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fine Art Photography from the Pacific Northwest College of Art. One of the first things I learned in all of my digital photography and video classes was the importance of organized files and standardized folder structures. I learned DAM (proper) on the job and I am largely self-taught. I spend many hours poring over online resources, forums, and discussion groups. Given the rapid and ongoing changes in the field, continual learning is pretty much requisite.

To start out, I read The DAM Book by Peter Krogh, DAM Survival Guide: Digital Asset Management Initiative Planning by David Diamond, and Digital Asset Management: Content Architectures, Project Management, and Creating Order Out of Media Chaos by Elizabeth Keathley. I also regularly visit controlledvocabulary.com/, digitalassetmanagementnews.org/, cmswire.com/digital-asset-management/, and read several white papers and blogs from around the industry. I read Wired magazine, keep up on all the latest Adobe products, and try to brainstorm and anticipate how new tools can improve our workflow. I’m a big fan of Lightroom, especially their new facial recognition feature.

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

Images don’t tag themselves and consistency in tagging is key. People think they can willy-nilly start tagging images and that it will ‘just work’. Having controlled vocabularies is vital to the success of any DAM.

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

I would be video editing or coding somewhere, learning more about Cinema 4D, After Effects and Ruby on Rails.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

Keeping the balance between how much metadata is too much metadata. How much metadata do we need to find the assets now? How much metadata do we need for historical context? How much metadata will people actually enter. It’s an art.

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

In 5 years file sizes will be much smaller and images will be easy to access, from any device anywhere. There will be no one single truth of assets, but rather a myriad of cloud services will be interconnected and you will be able to catalogue images that are stored in any of those locations. So, services like Dropbox and Box, Google Drive, Facebook, and Instagram will all be able to be indexed in some cohesive way. There will be more automation and it will be more accurate. Things like facial recognition and geodata will be available, and the software will be lightening fast.

What was your biggest mistake with regard to DAM?

DAM and project management go hand in hand. Having well defined and documented project workflows and a project management system will help guide and leverage how the digital asset management system can be used to it’s full potential. I wish I had pushed harder to have these processes documented before our DAM implementation.

What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?

My biggest success with regard to DAM is definitely the recent implementation of our digital asset management system for the University Relations department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. When I was hired, I was tasked with researching, purchasing, and implementing a new system that would meet a wide variety of needs throughout the campus. The department had gone through two other DAMs, both of which had been abandoned. I modeled the custom metadata schema off of other great higher education schemes, namely those of Corey Chimko from Cornell and Kevin Powell from Brown. Now, at UMass Amherst, we have over 50,000 assets that have been created over 7 years by our extremely talented staff photographer, John Solem, and various freelancers from the Pioneer Valley.

What more would you like to learn about DAM?

I’d like to learn more about the back-end and get involved in some UX design for a DAM company. I’d love to try and create my own DAM from scratch, and teach myself how to use available APIs to integrate into our project management system.

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Guru Call: DAM Meetup – Dallas, TX

USA FlagLooking for DAM Guru Program members who are interested in joining a DAM Meetup that covers the greater Dallas area of Texas.

Interested members should connect with their program manager. Your information will be passed on to the DGP member who is looking to organize this DAM Meetup.

Reminder, you must be a DGP member for your information to be shared with the inquiring member.

#DAMMeetup

Guru Call: DAM Meetup – Mumbai, India

Looking for DAM Guru Program members who are interested in joining a DAM Meetup that covers the Mumbai, Thane, Kalyan areas of India.

Interested members should connect with their program manager. Your information will be passed on to the DGP member who is looking to organize this DAM Meetup.

Reminder, you must be a DGP member for your information to be shared with the inquiring member.

#DAMMeetup

Guru Call: DAM Meetup – Grand Rapids, MI

USA FlagLooking for DAM Guru Program members who are interested in joining a DAM Meetup that covers the Grand Rapids, Holland, Muskegon areas of Michigan.

Interested members should connect with their program manager. Your information will be passed on to the DGP member who is looking to organize this DAM Meetup.

Reminder, you must be a DGP member for your information to be shared with the inquiring member.

#DAMMeetup

Guru Call: DAM Meetup – Seattle, WA

USA FlagLooking for DAM Guru Program members who are interested in joining a Seattle, WA DAM Meetup.

Interested members can respond via the comments section or let their program manager know.

Your information will be passed on to the DGP member who is looking to organize this DAM Meetup.

Reminder, you must be a DGP member for your information to be shared.

#DAMMeetup

Using DAM Guru Program to start a DAM Meetup

Looking to start a digital asset management Meetup in your area? DAM Guru Program can connect you with others nearby who are interested in doing the same.

Some of the benefits of getting a DAM Meetup going include:

  • Meet others in your area who share your interest in DAM
  • Conduct in-person educational sessions without the expense of trade shows
  • Establish a local Meetup chapter that isn’t under the control of any commercial interests

DAM Guru Program encourages its members to connect with one another via Meetups because we believe facetime and ongoing educational focus are good for building a stronger DAM community. Meetups are local, recurring and, best of all, free, so everyone can attend.

Digital asset management Meetups that are already active are listed here. There’s a button at the top you can use to start your own.

If you’d first like to connect with some other DAM people in your area, contact your DAM Guru Program manager. If you’re not yet a member of DAM Guru Program, you can get started by using the form on this page. Membership and all related services are always free of charge.

Here’s a group to keep an eye on no matter where you are:

Guru Call: USA

USA FlagLooking for a Guru in Tampa Bay, FL. Member seeking some advice on digital asset management best practices.

DGP member’s inquiry is regarding creating new policies for naming conventions, taxonomy, keywords and tags. They are also curious about migration of data.

Available DAM Guru members who are able to help may reach out to their program manager for more details.

Not yet a member? Signup: signup

#GuruCall