Learning digital asset management from the ground up, Cortese has gained valuable experiences with planning and change-management for DAM systems.
What companies/organizations have you worked for as a DAM professional? What was your role at each?
I originally worked for Schawk Retail Marketing, where I managed the tangible assets. I now manage the Digital Asset Management system at Ogilvy & Mather Chicago.
How do you describe digital asset management to others?
I describe DAM as a centralized repository for digital assets. The DAM I created in my current role is actually two-fold: it’s a digital library and it’s a streamlined production workflow. The digital library is, in a way, very prototypal – it has a style, a taxonomy and a schema all it’s own, but for all intents and purposes, it’s a well-functioning digital asset management solution. The workflow is a culmination of the technology, the existing way the agency worked and a little sprinkle of research, understanding and improvement.
How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?
I learned about DAM while working in advertising. I originally worked [for an agency] managing tangible assets. I worked in a basement and shipped samples to [my agency’s] photo studio. From there, I moved into a Project-Manager-meets-Production-Coordinator-meets-Account-Manager type of role. I felt like I worked more hours in that role than in any other I had – which is how I learned the ins and outs of production within advertising. That knowledge is what led to my current role, where I was hired to lead the project in building a Digital Asset Management solution for Ogilvy & Mather in Chicago.
Since my collegiate background isn’t in Advertising or Library Sciences, everything I learned in these fields has been from my professional experiences. It’s been an interesting way to learn about such a large and growing industry.
What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?
I think the largest hurdle I’ve had to jump is in regards to change-management. It took a good two years for some people in my agency to accept the fact that the way they used to work was changing. I wouldn’t have had it any other way, though – this pushed me to express how important and necessary this project, tool and department was to the agency. It tested my strengths and patience and taught me a number of skill sets I couldn’t have learned in any other situation.
What was your biggest mistake with regard to DAM?
My biggest mistake with regard to DAM is thinking I could do too much, too fast. It took me a few years to understand that technology isn’t instant. Building a workflow, a database, a structure, takes time. The research that has to be put into every detail of what you’re designing and building has to make sense. It’s far less effective to be reactionary at every turn than it is to take the right amount of time, the first time around.