Another DAM podcast interview with Tobias Blanke on Digital Asset Management

Listen to Another DAM podcast interview with Tobias Blanke on Digital Asset Management

Full Transcript:

Henrik de Gyor:  [0:01] This is Another DAM podcast about Digital Asset Management. I am Henrik de Gyor. Today, I am speaking with Tobias Blanke.

Tobias, how are you?

Tobias Blanke:  [0:10] I’m all right. How are you Henrik?

Henrik:  [0:12] Great. Tobias, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?

Tobias:  [0:16] I am the current director of the MA in Digital Asset and Media Management at King’s College, London. As far as we can see, this is still the only full postgraduate qualification directly related to this field [of Digital Asset and Media Management].

[0:33] There are, of course, a lot of individual modules, but not a full MA in the course. We have been running this MA now for three years and it has become very successful. We are very pleased with it, I myself, I’m a senior lecturer in this department the MA is running, that’s about the equivalent in the US of an Associate Professor.

[0:53] My research is mainly on data infrastructures, media industries, and this kind of things. What we are particularly proud of is how we are able to translate our own research into this degree. This is how I became initially involved in digital asset management.

[1:11] What I find most fascinating by interacting with all these students who come from various industries and other nations to us to study the degree is to learn how far and wide reaching the impact of this seemingly small field has become. This is also one of the reasons why I wrote a book, which I guess you’re going to talk about today, Henrik.

Henrik:  [1:33] Of course. To clarify, MA is the Master’s?

Tobias:  [1:36] Yes, it’s a Master’s degree. It’s a post credit qualification, so after your BA. I think you have the same in the US, only that yours is two years, and we have a one year MA here in London.

Henrik:  [1:45] You recently wrote a book titled “The Ecosystem of Digital Assets: Crowds and Clouds.” Tell us more about what inspired you to write this.

Tobias:  [1:55] The title changed slightly. It’s now called “Digital Asset Ecosystems: Rethinking crowds and clouds

[2:02] This is a direct reflection of what I said earlier about the interaction I have with my students and other fellow members of the academic staff here, about the development of the field of digital asset management and digital media management.

[2:17] I think we quite soon noticed that there is, of course, already quite a lot of discussion on, I would call this now, the traditional application domains of digital media management and digital asset management, which are often about organizing digital assets in an organization… organizing them in such a way that you can retrieve them efficiently, and so on.

[2:39] But there’s also, I think, if you come from it from the perspective like myself, which is slightly more computational, and also more in relation to what we would call Internet studies and these fields, if you come from these fields to Digital Asset Management.

[2:54] Then, you notice, actually, the importance that digital content has not just in a single organization, but to bring together various organizations across the Internet, across the globe, and integrate their workflows of working together around the digital content they produce and consume together.

[3:15] That was the original intention when I wrote the book. The book has four chapters. The first one is the background and introduction chapter. The second one, which discusses these kinds of general perspectives on the evolution of digital assets, and also introduces the concepts of digital ecosystems, which is also quite hotly debated recently.

[3:39] It is one of those concepts where you don’t really exactly can define what it is about. But it basically describes how businesses and other organizations bring together their data, tools and services, but also, the people that work for them and with them into a kind of integrated environment on the Internet.

[4:01] That then led to the subtitle of this book, which was called “Crowds and Clouds”, where we basically see how ecosystems are constituted by crowds, so the people who work with an organization and around an organization. And they work with this organization using platforms or clouds to produce and consume digital assets. This was the background section, where I discuss these kinds of concepts and the evolution of Digital Asset Management.

[4:28] Then, there is further sections discussing the technologies and methodologies, that really describe the kind of evolution of this platform I was just describing, and analyze that for also its future potential.

[4:42] Then, there is something that is very important to us, if you also work in a public sector, about how open or closed the ecosystems are around these digital assets. Anyone who’s ever used, let’s say, the Apple iCloud will know what I’m talking about.

[4:57] There’s challenges of sharing certain types of content. And this is, of course, an indication of the kind of business model that Apple, for instance, wants to develop around its digital content. Then, I also have, finally, two chapters which discuss “Big Data”, which is, of course, a big topic in the field.

[5:16] Then, also the kind of wider economic and society implications. What are actually these global workflows that I mentioned earlier? And how do they link together around this digital content? And how do these crowds and clouds integrate with each other.

[5:33] I’m particularly interested, at the very end, to discuss a kind of new idea for digital asset values, which is related to so called network value, which is something that I describe as you become something else on the Internet that nobody else can do without anymore.

[5:53] The standard example for me is always Google Maps. You always wonder why Google has published this freely and openly. But, of course, we recently found out that by publishing this freely and openly, they generated a lot of network value for these maps or assets that they have, because really most all applications on the Internet now run on these maps.

[6:19] This is really to say what I tried to do. I tried to think a little bit about the assumption that digital asset management has a much wider application domain than, maybe, certain traditional ideas about it, and I wanted to write this book mainly to really practically lay down what my own research agenda for this kind of field would be.

Henrik:  [6:41] If you read the show notes, there will be a giveaway of Tobias’ new book. Take a look at anotherdampodcast.com for more information. Tobias, what are the biggest challenges and successes with Digital Asset Management?

Tobias:  [6:53] That’s, of course, a great question and a grand challenge to answer. I could talk about technologies, and also methodologies, and also business applications, but, of course, one of my primary interests in this field is the development of educational frameworks for it. I still think it’s quite a challenge for us.

[7:12] I don’t know how you feel about this in your professional practice, Henrik, but it’s quite a challenge for us to make organizations and businesses understand the kind of educational background, the skills, and so on digital asset and media managers need.

[7:30] Also, we have to learn this, because, of course, there’s a wide range in different ways of applying digital media now in the world. We find it interesting, but also really challenging to actually define exactly the kind of skills and professional qualifications that a digital asset manager needs.

[7:49] I think it lies somewhere between some kind of very lightweight computing understanding, so that you can talk to developers, at least. They then go on, of course, to deeper business knowledge around digital content. Then, of course, into the more established fields that one might immediately associate with this, which are more related to information science like metadata and those kind of questions.

[8:14] Now, the greatest success of Digital Asset Management is in a way, I think, the things I already mentioned in my last answer. The importance that people feel about the value of digital content in all kinds of digital industries. I think to say we can really see how this knowledge and understanding is now taking hold of many industries if you just look around here in London, which is, of course, a global hub for these digital industries.

[8:44] The challenges are related to making organizations and companies understand what kind of qualifications and skills are needed based on the success we already had, in a way, and making them understand how important digital content and the curation and preservation and the making use of the digital content in other forms really has become.

Henrik:  [9:06] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?

Tobias:  [9:11] I think it’s a great job to get into. [laughs] My first advice would be try it. I’m not sure whether you need at an entry level necessarily professional qualification like we offer. Or, even a degree. But, I guess, you will find out soon that it helps you to advance to the more advanced levels.

[9:29] The real, to say, advantage of becoming, I think, a DAM professional, if you want to become one, is that you really sit at the heart of the operations of a digital organization in the 21st century. You really sit there where the content is produced and consumed, where the data is exchanged, and so on.

[9:51] If you are already a DAM professional, I think you should, that doesn’t mean that you have to study here, you should think hard whether it is enough what you have already learned through the practice that you’ve done, and whether you not need some kind of more education.

[10:08] I can only say that, for myself, who considers himself also to be, in a way, a DAM professional. Only through the interactions with all our students and the other people that we met from the wonderful DAM community, which is a global, great family.

[10:24] We have really learned to say how much is involved in this field, and I think it’s really important that DAM professionals keep learning that too. In my experience, highly advisable that you try and stay up‑to‑date in whatever form, with the developments in this field.

Henrik:  [10:42] There is a fair amount of education out there, or even enrichment, to your point.

Tobias:  [10:46] It’s really, Henrik, I don’t know how you feel about it. It’s a field that is evolving very fast, but you also need to stay up‑to‑date with the field, however that might work.

[10:56] You can visit the conferences. You can visit the wonderful blogs of Henrik. You can read even more academic publications like The Journal of Media Management and all these kinds of things. I think that is not to say that you have to go back to school or university, but it’s really important I think, in all digital fields that you try to constantly change your self and evolve.

Henrik:  [11:18] Great point. Of course there’s plenty of new books out there, about Digital Asset Management, including the one you’ve written.

Tobias:  [11:25] We’re also going to publish another one, which you can interview us in about half‑a‑year, about more the theory and practice of the general background of Digital Asset Management.

Henrik:  [11:33] Fantastic. Thank you so much, Tobias.

Tobias:  [11:35] It was nice meeting you, Henrik.

Henrik:  [11:36] For more information on Digital Asset Management, log onto AnotherDAMblog.com.

Another DAM podcast is available on iTunes and AudioBoo. If you have any comments or questions please feel free to email me at AnotherDAMblog@Gmail.com. Thanks again.

Book Giveaway

You see, there is a benefit to reading the transcripts found in this podcast series. We are giving away one free copy of Tobias Blanke’s new book titled Digital Asset Ecosystems: Rethinking crowds and clouds. To enter this book giveway, email the podcast host with a one paragraph summary on what this book is about (from the transcript above) by no later than August 24, 2014. A random drawing of the email submissions will award one lucky winner free book. The book will come directly from the author. You could even ask for the book to be autographed and personalized from the author himself, Tobias Blanke.

Another DAM podcast interview with Ulla de Stricker

Another DAM podcast interview with Ulla de Stricker | Listen

Here are the questions asked:

  • How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
  • You recently co-authored a book titled “The Information and Knowledge Professional’s Career Handbook” along with co-author Jill Hurst-Wahl. I believe Digital Asset Management could be categorized under the umbrella of Information Management. What inspired you to write this book?
  • What is so different about careers in the field of Information and Knowledge Professionals than any other?
  • Is this book just for beginners entering this career path?
  • What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?

Full Transcript:

Henrik de Gyor: [0:01] This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset
Management (DAM). I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with Ulla de
Stricker. Ulla, how are you?
Ulla de Stricker: [0:11] Fine. Thank you very much.
Henrik: [0:13] Ulla, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
Ulla: [0:16] As a consultant I’m involved in everything my clients care about
when it comes to information and knowledge management broadly defined.
Information objects of all kinds, including DAMs of course, are an element in any
organization strategy for support to knowledge workers, and I strive to point my
clients to the options available and to advise them about the ramifications of
those options.
Henrik: [0:40] You recently coauthored a book titled “The Information and
Knowledge Professional’s Career Handbook” along with coauthor Jill Hurst-
Wahl, which I interviewed in the past. I believe Digital Asset Management could
be categorized under the umbrella of information management. What inspired
you to write this book?
Ulla: [0:58] Jill and I are what you might call “natural mentors.” We’ve always
ended up in situations where we discuss career matters with our colleagues and
our students in particular. So without being able to pinpoint the exact moment,
we did get to a point where we arrived at this collective insight, “Why don’t we
just write it all down?” So we set about distilling our answers to the many questions
we’ve heard over the years. [1:26] Our intention was to capture general
advice in one place so that potentially our individual conversations with readers
could be more personal and focused. But primarily, however, we wanted to give
our colleagues and particularly new entrants to the profession a heads up about
all the things you need to think about in your career but never had a chance to
focus on in graduate school.
[1:53] Speaking for myself, I certainly discovered that technical skills are only one
part of the tool kit we need. I learned the hard way about organizational politics,
about being the boss, about interpersonal dynamics, and so on and so on. So
you might say the book actually addresses practitioners in a lot of professions.
We felt comfortable though speaking to colleagues in those fields where we
have personally built our reputations.
[2:21] We’d love to see the book become a graduation gift and a bible for
younger colleagues. That way our suggestions can travel a lot further afield than
through personal interactions in meetings and workshops.
Henrik: [2:35] Excellent. So what is so different about careers in the field of
information management professionals than any other?
Ulla: [2:45] I’m so glad you asked it. First, I want to stress how exciting it is to
see all the many new opportunities out there for graduates of iSchools. I think
we’re still only scratching the surface, and there’s a lot of outreach still to do to
orient managers about how the skills of iSchool graduates apply across a vast
spectrum of organizational functions. [3:08] But I always encourage those looking
for a career to check out the information profession. You and I, Henrik, know
it isn’t true, contrary to widespread opinion, that the Internet has reduced the
need for professionals who know their way around information management.
That said, I need to be honest about what I call the opacity of our profession.
[3:31] You can’t imagine the number of times I’ve heard my colleagues comment
on the surprising amount of explaining they found themselves having to do.
Sometimes we commiserate among ourselves that perhaps we ought to have
considered pharmacy or some other field where clients understand immediately
what we do without any further explanation.
[3:51] As an illustration, nobody with a sick pet is in any doubt about the need
for or value of a veterinarian, and no one with a leaky roof questions the need
for and value of a roofer. Yes, police officers, transport truck drivers, the road
repair crews, etc, etc, do not have to explain why they should exist. But we information
professionals do.
[4:19] A major factor is the conundrum I’ll never solve that we deal largely in
intangibles. We can’t prove that we are adding dollars to the bottom line or that
we’re saving lives. So our costs could look like reasonable candidates for cuts
when managers are under pressure to slash their budgets. We can convince
those managers it’s prudent to equip knowledge workers with authoritative information,
and it’s prudent to safeguard corporate memory and so on.
[4:50] But we cannot get away from the fact that information services are, by
their nature, labor intensive and expensive. Before the first customer can find an
answer to a question or find an information object, there’s content to pay for,
staff to pay for, IT infrastructure to put in place, and so on. It’s understandable
to me when a senior executive asks bluntly, “What am I getting for that six or
seven-figure line item called the Corporate Information Center?”
[5:21] I’m sure your DAM colleagues recognize the challenge. The bottom line for
this nurse is that in our professions practitioners must always be ready to justify
their worth. It’s for that reason that one of the chapters in the book deals with
crafting business cases.
Henrik: [5:39] So, is this book just for beginners entering this career path?
Ulla: [5:43] Certainly, Jill and I did intend the book for graduate students and
recent graduates, but we speak equally to mid-career professionals who may be
asking themselves, “What’s next?” We advocate an attitude of personal control.
Oh, yes. It’s true. A new graduate may take that first job because the bills have
to be paid. But throughout our working lives every one of us are making choices
and plans for the future. [6:10] So that’s why we emphasize in one chapter the
need for every single professional to ascertain what’s a group cultural fit and
then to orchestrate choices and activities toward that fit. By “fit,” I mean that,
as one example, some of us are naturally happy in environments where others
might not be so happy. Just consider the difference between hospitals, law
firms, schools, nonprofits, and private sector companies in terms of how it feels
to work there.
[6:40] As another example. We’re all unique in terms of the degree of structure
and control we like to have at work, the pace we’re comfortable with, whether
we like to deal with people, or whether we prefer to work independently, and
so on. So, other chapters deal with universal topics, such as developing a
professional brand, getting paid what we’re worth, coping with stress, mentoring
others. So indeed the book is meant for our colleagues at any stage of
their careers.
Henrik: [7:12] What advice would you like to share with DAM professional and
people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Ulla: [7:17] Let me stress again the positive news that in the future, information
professionals including the DAMs will be evermore necessary to managing the
explosions of digital content. The opportunities keep growing, and I’ll just throw
in here, that in the last couple of weeks alone a major consulting firm in Toronto
announced several new knowledge management decisions. [7:43] One little
challenge does exist. It’s that in the past, we may not have focused sufficiently
on marketing our skills, so we do have some competition from IT professionals
as an example. So my advice focuses on marketing. My advice is that a successful
career depends on developing a solid conviction about our own value and
on perfecting the delivery of the explanation of it.
[8:09] I say become a walking business case. Get good at linking your activity
to corporate outcomes. Estimate, for example, how much time you save other
employees through your work, and then calculate the value to the organization
from freeing up that time. Never mind about risk reduction and other intangible
benefits. Speak about how you contribute to the overall performance of the
organization you work for and use the language stakeholders understand.
[8:39] In other words become a career long advocate for good information practices.
Does that make sense, Henrik?
Henrik: [8:46] Definitely. Well, thanks Ulla. Thanks to also your publisher,
Chandos, who is giving us a complimentary copy. For the first time on this
podcast series we’re able to give away a copy of the book. The book is again
“The Information and Knowledge Professionals Career Handbook” by Jill Hurst-
Wahl and Ulla de Stricker. [9:08] The contest between the date of the release of
this podcast through the month of August 2011, if you subscribed to Another
DAM Blog, that’s AnotherDAMblog.com and AnotherDAMpodcast.com, you
will be entered in the contest immediately. If you are drawn at the end of the
month, the winner from that will get a free copy of the new book. Thank you so
much, Ulla.
Ulla: [9:36] Well, thank you. It is indeed generous of the publisher to work with
us in this way, and I can’t wait to virtually shake the hand of the winner.
Henrik: [9:45] If you would like more information about Digital Asset
Management, log onto AnotherDAMblog.com. Another DAM Podcast is
available on Audioboo , Blubrry, iTunes, and the Tech Podcast Network.
Thanks again.

Announcing the first book drawing for this podcast series…

The one winner of this drawing will receive one free copy of “The Information and Knowledge Professional’s Career Handbook” co-authored by Jill Hurst-Wahl and Ulla de Stricker. To enter the book drawing, simply subscribe to both Another DAM podcast and Another DAM blog by email on each of these websites between August 4, 2011 and August 31, 2011. The winner will be picked from the pool of email subscribers of both Another DAM podcast and Another DAM blog together. The drawing will occur on the first week of September 2011 with a third party drawing the name of the winner. The winner will be announced on Another DAM podcast and Another DAM blog. If you are already an email subscribers to both Another DAM podcast and Another DAM blog, you are automatically entered in this book drawing. The winner will be contacted directly by email for their contact details to ship the book. The book will be shipped directly from the publisher. Good luck to all.