Digital Asset Management (DAM):

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1 Digital Asset Management (DAM): What to Know Before You Go! Authored by John Horodyski - Principal, DAM Education,a DAM consulting agency focusing on DAM education & training. Brought to you by Widen Enteprises Scan for PDF 2011 Widen Enterprises, Inc.

2 The decision to implement a Digital Asset Management (DAM) system is a positive step in the right direction to gaining operational and intellectual control of your digital assets and is not one to be taken lightly. It brings with it great responsibility as to how the organization s assets will be efficiently and effectively managed in its daily operations. It is more than a sum total of its parts; it must include a detailed review and analysis of all those contributing factors to DAM; digital assets, organization, workflow, security, etc. And yet, the decision itself to go with a DAM system enacts a chain of questions to be carefully considered before proceeding down the path to DAM. This white paper dissects the question of What to know before you go? and details the best questions to ask yourself, your team, your department, and your organization before you go with Digital Asset Management! DAM: Are You Ready? What is the goal of the DAM system? Is this for marketing operations? Web content? Long-term digital preservation? Is it a singular installation or more expansive for a global audience? If you can get your goal right, then you can achieve DAM success There may be many good reasons to implement a DAM system within your organization; not the least of which is identifying, centralizing, and making accessible valuable assets for use and reuse within an organization. And while that is a worthy and most formidable goal to assume, there must be an opportunity to stand back and ensure the problems are being solved with this DAM solution. Knowing your problem to solve will be your greatest starting point on your DAM journey, and from there more questions may then be formed. First and foremost, the problem of who is your audience and what are their problems to be solved is paramount to success. Take the time to understand the usage scenarios; who will be using the DAM and what procedures / output do they need? There is no need to work in isolation here and it is encouraged to seek out input from others within your organization. This is a great way to make friends, form alliances, and create strong internal partners that will ultimately help drive your DAM solution. DAM is not a project; a temporary assignment to IT or Marketing whereby temporary resources and monies are assigned to try and fix something. DAM is more than this. It is a product to be financed, resourced, and managed as any other product and/or service found in any organization. What are your digital assets? Content analysis, rights, standards Images, graphics, videos, 3D models, text, etc. Similar, but different and all deserving specific attention Do you really know what you have? This is not necessarily a left no rock unturned siege upon the organization, but if you are to invest time in this, then it is advised to look far and wide for assets for they may well reside in both the familiar and unfamiliar of places. Shared folders, desktops, external drives are usual suspects in this exercise. This is a perfect opportunity to reach out to your users and/or customers and ask them what assets they have and better yet, where those assets are. And ask your users where the assets are going and how are they to be used? 2

3 Knowing what those assets are and how many you have (and will be creating on a regular basis) will help determine what type of DAM implementation you will need. This may be as small as a single installation with a few users or an enterprise level solution with many things to do. In addition, knowing more about your assets will ultimately help you in your preliminary discussions with your software vendor(s). In most situations, the DAM vendors will be able to do what you want your DAM solution to do, but there are situations where you may have unique assets such as 3D models and their associated information that may not be as easy for your DAM vendor to solve. This may well need customization work which is both timely and costly. Yet, that needs to be at the back of your mind at all times and working with a good DAM vendor will make this process all the more profitable for you. Engage and build a strong relationship with your DAM vendor during the courting stage for it will be one of your greatest assets going forward. What is your metadata model(s)? How do you identify and define your assets? Are you able to achieve the sweet sixteen? How important is search to you? Do you know what assets you have and how to identify, organize, and describe them? This is not an exercise to be rushed as this is critical to the entire DAM operation. If you get this part wrong, then the entire DAM is damned! Specifically, metadata will be your greatest asset ; it will provide the structure and information needed to make your assets more meaningful and not just assets. When metadata is present, your assets become smart assets; meaningful and valuable. Time and time again people feel the need, and rightfully so, to describe their assets in multiple ways from the perspective of multiple users. More often than not these exercises can lead to well over metadata fields where assets may be described. In some circumstances, this number might rise north of 100; well beyond reach of control and in a state of information overload. Your goal is to have a manageable set of fields upon which you are able to discern the most critical elements of your assets to be described in terms of administrative, descriptive and technical metadata. There is no magic number because every organization will be different, though, the number you may wish to aspire is the sweet sixteen ; the sixteen elements that you need to identify, organize, and describe your assets; and ultimately, let your users search against. What is your taxonomy? The better question is Do you know what this is? How are your assets organized? Why do I need one and can the DAM help me with that? Indeed, if this word strikes imagery of various alpine and bucolic animals stuffed in their most glorious of poses, then this is a good time to use the dictionary and figure this out; better yet, hire a librarian or archivist to help you out. Now that you have identified your assets, and believe you have a metadata model of manageable means, it is time to consider how this will be organized within the DAM both from a backend perspective as well as the front end. Out of the box, DAM systems have existing functionality for the visual display of information for the user; the how part of DAM. How to search for these DAM assets? This could be through a variety and a combination of means: 3

4 A faceted classification system Well defined folder browsing Perhaps a structured vocabulary from the corporate system feeding the DAM Think of your users and think of how they will want to play with the DAM and search for assets. There may well not be a simple one-size-fits-all solution, and may involve different views depending upon your users. What if this to replace an existing DAM? / What if this is a new venture altogether A new DAM? Migration requirements Change management Either way, these what if scenarios are worthy of attention for understanding how to implement a successful DAM. As previously mentioned, this is not just a simple project to be executed, but rather a product, a significant investment in time, money and resources to solve a specific problem within your organization. If this is a replacement DAM, then most obvious of concerns are that of legacy development code and migration of assets and technology systems, connections with existing systems part of a larger CMS or MAM; the entire technology infrastructure. If this is a new DAM, then there are other pressing issues to consider, most notably resources. Do you have the right team in place to implement this? Better yet, do you have a change management process in place to manage the change to a DAM system? This includes everything from communications to product evangelism, to metadata management, and beyond. Take the time to consider how this will be rolled out and who will be a part of that process. Consideration of possible workflow issues? Workflow modeling & production tool requirements Is there a solid workflow process in place? Optimization of marketing operations Digital Asset Management may be understood as a workflow device to assist in the marketing operations or other operational management critical to your organization s needs. Some have invested in DAM solutions to speed up workflow, and potentially create bigger profits and again, the opportunity exists to take a step back and receive as much of an overview as possible. Now is the time to identify and map out the workflow process of your department, and/or organization. If there were to be any holes in the process, this would be the time to find them both in current terms as well as future needs for the organization. In many situations, companies tell the vendor, here is our process, automate it, and not looking at the integrity of the process. If the process is flawed and cumbersome, you do not want that to be automated for the end result will be messy. In addition, documenting the workflow is another great opportunity to build better relationships with internal teams and partners. The result of this documentation serves as the blueprint for your DAM solution and the people, and processes connected along the way. Consideration for digital preservation of assets. Are some of your assets worth preserving beyond the workflow cycles you have established? More to consider than just metadata What about formats and standards? 4

5 This is critical in terms of looking ahead with the view from behind. There may well be sound reasons to identify, organize, and centralize your brand assets in one location for digital preservation of some kind, whether that is short to mid term or a much longer term vision. If indeed a preservation problem needs to be solved, then talk to your DAM vendor about this and discern what may be done. In some instances, there are many good examples of using archival assets as a means of procuring new monetization and revenue streams. It is worth the effort to explore new ways of repurposing assets as well as the long tail usage of assets for potential repurposing in the future. Consideration of any licensing / legal issues. Do you need a DRM as well And why? Permissions, roles, and security How well do you know your assets, your users and their needs? In the cloud or out of the cloud and what does that really mean? This might be the time where metadata comes to the rescue for you and your assets for a comprehensive metadata model with fields specific to rights usage and management will be critical for your users interest in use and reuse. Yet to get there, demands an understanding of what your assets are and knowledge of how they may be used. No technology will solve that issue for that is pure human processing. On the other side of the rights issue is the construction of permissions, users roles and security for the DAM that will guide and direct your users to a more successful DAM experience. Consideration of possible DAM systems / vendors to use. Evaluation, RFP, proof of concept, test drives & sand boxes Selection and procurement This is where the fun begins; the review and selection of DAM vendors to solve your DAM problems. Do not rush this process. Take the time to interview your DAM vendors for the job, ask them questions about existing clients, technical roadmaps, and professional services. The good DAM vendors will be found with ease; they will stand out and provide service from the beginning. A good scan of a vendor s website will show you what they are doing and who they are working with. Be mindful of white papers and case studies as that will provide insight into their design and ability to solve problems. Furthermore, a strong social media presence will let you know how current they are and plugged into the marketing operations issues affecting DAM. This is your time to effectively perform due diligence. Look past the software and determine what is going on with training, implementation support, help desk, upgrades and new releases. It s not just what comes out of the box that is important; the vendor you choose will become your partner in this development initiative and you will need a good partner. Management issues? Operations planning & program roadmap Do you have a leader / a champion / an evangelist? Do you have a team in place to manage day-to-day operations? 5

6 DAM is neither a silver bullet, nor is it a Catherine wheel. It is the best way in which to manage your rich media assets for use and reuse within your organization; a beacon of hope and power to advance your organization to the next level. In order to harness that potential power, there needs to be the right people there to be empowered and make change and align DAM with the strategic goals of the organization. A champion is needed to argue on your behalf and advocate for budget spending. And then champions are needed to manage the day-to-day operations of a DAM solution from Digital Asset Managers, Business Analysts, and Technical Engineers. Is it for you? DAM may well be the art of organization only so far as it may provide a structure of order amongst the information chaos of a modern media organization. DAM can do many things so long as you are willing to drive DAM well and let it solve the problems you have identified. Businesses can increase profits with digital asset management in two ways: 1. Organizing your assets in a central location will make them searchable using enterprise search and will allow your organization to save time which equals money. Access to information will allow for quick and easy search and no more lost time looking for assets. Shorter search times lead to quicker response times. 2. The available assets in your DAM are now available for use and reuse to create new assets and new products. In the current real-time world, a quick and accurate response is priceless. Do you have the right team in place to do this? DAM is not a project; it is a corporate product; by every sense of the definition of product. It is a long term investment that needs people, processes to power its potential. This is about you, and the choices you will make. Take the time to arm yourself with the right information and you will have a much easier time in making the right decisions. About the Author John Horodyski is Principal, DAM Education (http://www.dameducation.com), a DAM consulting agency focusing on DAM education & training. John is also the Manager, Digital Programming, Product Development at the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). John also serves as Director of Marketing & Business Development for Wrinkled Pants, an educational software studio focused on the development of education and literacy based apps for the ipad. John teaches a graduate course at San José State University, School of Library & Information Science in Digital Asset Management. John spent many years at Electronic Arts where he managed their global digital asset management system as well as being a producer within the EA Sports and online divisions. He has published professional articles and presented at numerous conferences on digital media, metadata in video games and taxonomy design and continues to offer DAM training & consulting. John holds a Masters Archival Studies and Masters Library and Information Science from the University of British Columbia and is the Managing Editor to the Journal of Digital Asset Management. 6

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