Another DAM Podcast interview with Jared Bajkowski on Digital Asset Management

Listen to Another DAM Podcast interview with Jared Bajkowski on Digital Asset Management

Here are the questions asked:

  • How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
  • How does a Medical Institute use Digital Asset Management?
  • What are the biggest challenges and successes with Digital Asset Management?
  • What advice would you like to share with DAM Professionals and people aspiring to become DAM Professionals?

Full Transcript:

Henrik De Gyor: [0:02] This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with Jared Bajkowski. Jared, how are you?
Jared Bajkowski: [0:10] Good. How are you?
Henrik: [0:11] Great. Jared, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
Jared: [0:15] I’m the Digital Assets Manager for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. What the Medical Institute is, what we do..we are philanthropic organization. We fund by medical research across the United States. We’re a lot like the NIH.
[0:30] Being the Digital Assets Manager, I am in charge of cataloging, and keeping all of the photos that we use for our publications, all the photos, and graphics, and illustrations that we use on our websites, anything that we use internally for advertisements.
[0:49] Anything that we put out, we want to keep in our management system. What I do is, I gather it, I catalog it, I manage the metadata, I train the other users of the systems in the various departments, whether they be with the Science department or the Science Education department.
[1:10] Personally, I’m in Art Communications, that means that I’m in charge of whatever publications that we put out.
[1:15] The system that we use is a repository for all of the illustrations and all of the photos and everything that we’ve put out. What we want to do is make sure that everything is searchable, everything is findable, everything is safe.
[1:32] That’s an important thing. They’re not scattered around on this hard drive on that hard drive. I run the database and that’s primarily my day to day duties.
Henrik: [1:44] Why does a medical institute use digital asset management?
Jared: [1:46] We’re a large institute. We put out a lot of content and we have a lot of content on our website. We do have publications, we have educational materials that we put out. We have recruitment advertisements for scientists. That ends up being, it’s a lot of content.
[2:03] Now, without a digital assets management system, it’s really hard to keep track on what’s being used where, when it was made, what kind of rights permissions go along with a certain item or a certain record.
[2:18] It can get quickly overwhelming if you’re not certain about where something is or how something should be used or how something was used in the past. What we use it for is pretty much any illustration or photograph or graphic that we use gets put into the database system.
[2:32] It gets tagged with metadata, so we know what it is, who it is, where it was used, why we created it, who created it, who owns the rights. All of the information is important for tracking this kind of thing.
[2:46] I put it into the database before it’s actually published. There we have it, so we can reuse it in the future. It’s something that we can leverage.
[2:54] Someone asks us, “Oh, can I use that illustration? It’s a perfect illustration for an article I’m writing. I’m writing an article on such and such scientist, and I see you have a good portrait of him on your website. Can we use that?”
[3:06] Having a digital access management system allows us to quickly find that item, for one. And two, see who created it, and if we can even can distribute it or who owns the copyrights?
[3:21] This is all important, whenever you’re a large organization, or even a small organization, you have to keep track of this kind of thing.
[3:26] You don’t want to be distributing any materials that you don’t have the rights to. Even if you wanted, even if you could distribute it, you want to have that original high resolution scan or the original version of it to be able to distribute.
[3:42] The essence of this system is basically, it’s almost twofold. One, it’s the repository for everything that you’ve created. And two, it’s a system that you can use to distribute.
Henrik: [3:54] What are the biggest challenges and successes with digital access management?
Jared: [3:59] One of the biggest challenges I’ve found coming in to this job is, whenever you start a digital assets management system, it can be a bit overwhelming trying to track down all the different items that you know should be in there. It’s easy, if you’re starting from the ground up.
[4:16] But hardly, at least it has been my experience, with the other digital assets managers that I’ve talked to. Often, you’re not starting from the ground up.
[4:23] Often, you are coming in midstream where you either have an access management system in place already, or it’s an old system that maybe isn’t being used.
[4:37] Or maybe there is no system at all, and just now your organization is just coming to see the light of why digital access management is important, and then you’re charged with trying to gather up everything that you can.
[4:51] It’s very easy to get overwhelmed by simply the amount of material that’s there, or maybe the amount of material that’s not there and supposed to be there. It’s hard to prioritize, what do I take here, what do I take there? And it feels like it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
[5:08] That often is a challenge, to try to just prioritize what goes in first. And I think that’s how you have to do. You have to sit down and say all right, this is the most important or this department’s the most important, or everything in the past year is the most important.
[5:25] And we’ll get the previous years as we go. You have to sit down and and make a hierarchy of what needs to be in there first, and then start at the beginning. If you take it step by step, it takes a huge project and makes it much easier for you to get a handle on it.
[5:42] And that goes both hand in hand with another major issue that a lot of digital assets managers have, is getting the organization to buy-in to it.
[5:49] You have people, if they’re busy, they’re already working at their jobs and then you come along, trying to get them to use the system, trying to get them to work with you to load their assets into the system and so you can catalog them. So, that can often be a bit of a challenge.
[6:07] Because people frankly, either they’ve had bad experiences with databases before, or they don’t see the value in it. And it takes a lot of effort on your part to show them that it is in their benefit to use these systems, because it is.
[6:22] Whenever it works, it works fantastically. It’s almost like magic, someone comes to you and says “Oh, there was this illustration that I believe we used in an issue four years ago. I don’t know who made it.
[6:38] I don’t know the article that it was in, but I do remember it was an illustration of a red blood cell or what have you.” And if you have a good access management system with good metadata.
[6:51] Look at what the access management system was, or even something as small as perhaps, maybe a year or even a color, you should be able to find it for them.
[7:00] If you can produce something like that on a consistent basis, it really shows people the value of the system that you’ve created. If you can pull out with relative ease the items that people are looking for without having them search too hard for it.
[7:16] That’s the dream of the digital asset management system. I mean, that’s something that makes it worth their while. We’re bringing, it’s almost a cliche to say you’re bringing order to the chaos, but that’s what you’re doing.
[7:28] If your organization has a wealth of materials, but if you have a consistent system and a consistent database, all of those materials should be easily found and easily usable again.
Henrik: [7:40] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals, and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Jared: [7:45] I would say my advice, to be fair, I’m still pretty new to the profession myself. I’ve only been doing this for about two years, and I can say what was the biggest help to me really was getting to know the community of digital assets managers.
[8:03] Going to conferences, trying to link up with people through LinkedIn or joining professional groups, or subscribing to trade journals. That’s a wealth of information, you’re drawing on information of people who have been there, and have been in your position.
[8:19] And they know, they’ve done, they’ve probably heard of or done themselves whatever project that you’re currently working on. And being able to draw on past experience is a huge, huge thing for helping you develop in your career.
[8:35] Being able to ask advice is so big, and being able to have somebody to go to is huge. Another piece of advice that I would give would be really, if you’re trying to prove that the worth of your organization who is investing in a digital assets management system.
[8:53] Really, return on investment, ROI is huge for that.
[8:57] I mean often, I know and you know, people probably listening to this podcast know, you know the value of a digital asset management system. Because that’s what we do, we live it. We know why it works, and we know why it’s a valuable thing to have.
[9:12] Management may not always know that, so if you can go and you can prove to them how a database such as this is going to save money or save time, or make people more effective workers, that kind of speaks management’s language.
[9:29] And that’s how you’re going to get them to buy in to a system such as this. And you do that, I remember, I went to a conference, and it was a presentation from a major company, a major manufacturer.
[9:45] How they got their management to buy-in to the digital assets management system is that they made a presentation, and they had groups of photographs saying here are blueprints. Here’s a picture of the product, here is the commercial that we advertise this product in.
[10:04] When they went through all these different things, of all of the photographs or illustrations or video, or documents, all of the items that go into making a single product, and it was up there all on the screen. They said, “This is what we’re keeping now.”
[10:20] Everything on that screen fell off except for one thing which was the actual photograph of the product itself. What they were saying, and what they were showing is, “This is a multi step process from the idea scribbled on the napkin to the actual item being created.”
[10:39] All of this is getting lost except for photographs of the actual item itself. This is valuable things that we should be keeping. This is legacy data. This is a narrative of how an item goes from idea to product.
[10:52] This is something that can be leveraged for future products. All of it was not being kept. By showing their management by instituting this database for every product that we make, this is the amount of stuff that we can catch, and this is value.
[11:12] This is something that we can use again. This is something that we should be keeping.
[11:16] You want to speak management’s language. You want to show them how you can save money or how you can make your organization better by having a Digital Asset’s Management System.
Henrik: [11:28] Thanks, Jared
Jared: [11:29] You’re welcome. Thank you.
Henrik: [11:31] For more on Digital Asset Management, logon to anotherdamblog.com. Another DAM Podcast is available on Audioboo and iTunes.
[11:39] If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email me at
anotherdamblog@gmail.com. Thanks again.

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