From a photo background to a DAM Administrator, Ayala has overseen the success of a DAM system implementation for higher education and learned quite a bit along the way.
What companies/organizations have you worked for as a DAM professional? What was your role at each?
My experience with digital asset management is in higher education as Project Manager and Administrator of Digital Asset Management at the Boston Architectural College (BAC). I fell into Digital Asset Management after years of work as a professional photographer. I was the Lead Photographer and Web Content Manager for the BAC, and while in that role, I was tasked with finding a Digital Asset Management system for the Marketing & Communications department. Over the course of a year, I tested a large number of systems. Shortly after settling on a system, I transitioned into the role of Project Manager and Administrator of the DAM.
How do you describe digital asset management to others?
I usually ask others, “Have you heard of Getty Images or iStock photo? Well, that’s kind of what I do, but on a client-based level.” I go on to describe DAM as a management system used for storing, cataloguing, searching and delivering assets from one centralized location. And if they’re still listening, I go on to discuss the policies, practices and software administration that go into managing digital assets.
How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?
Initially, I scoured the internet for any publication on the subject, which led me to all kinds of information. It was overwhelming at first, but I quickly started gathering my list of helpful sources.
The testing phase, when I was exploring different DAM systems, proved to be very helpful. During this period, I was able to learn so much by speaking to actual administrators of DAM systems. It was invaluable to hear first-hand experiences, ask questions and speak with individuals in digital asset management with varying backgrounds.
My institutional Librarian, Archivist and IT department were and continue to be a tremendous help in working with system configuration, metadata, setting up taxonomies and controlled vocabularies. I still meet with them on a regular basis.
I reached out to a number of colleges and universities to gain further knowledge on DAM systems used in the field of higher education, workflow models, staffing and anything I thought would benefit my implementation.
Some DAM vendors also proved to be very helpful – but you have to be able to read through the marketing jargon, and get the real information from them.
The fact is, I’m still learning.
Below are a few of my favorite resources:
Books and Journals:
What’s the most important thing for someone new to DAM to understand about DAM?
That’s a hard question. The most important thing for someone new to DAM to understand is that there is a lot to learn in this evolving industry, don’t re-invent the wheel, and if you’re just getting started, read the DAM Survival Guide.
If you weren’t doing DAM as a career, what would you be doing?
If I wasn’t doing DAM as a career, I would be doing photography full time.
What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?
One of my greatest challenges with DAM is staffing. Working in a small college forces me to be creative with system responsibilities and tasks that are crucial to daily operations.
What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?
My biggest success with regard to DAM is that in 2012 I barely new what DAM was, and by 2013 I had implemented and was administrating an institutional wide system that continues to succeed today. There are many more phases on the roadmap, but we’re off to a good start. I have to say though, that my most important success, has been the feedback from users that they can’t imagine how anything got done before the DAM and that they really enjoy working with it. The end users experience with DAM has been my top priority from the beginning, so their positive feedback means a lot to me.