Henrik de Gyor: This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset Management (DAM). I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today, I was speaking with Deb Fanslow. Deb, how are you?
Deb Fanslow: Great. How are you?
Henrik de Gyor: Great. How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
Deb Fanslow: I have a long career that got me where I am today. Currently, I’m in a role that seems to be following the trend in the industry. I’m working in Digital Asset Management, but also in a broader content management role which really looks at the end-to-end flow of content, more the digital supply chain type of analogy. What I focus on right now is a lot of not just getting content in the DAM and tagged, but content re-use of various types of assets not just your traditional marketing, but also a lot of communications. In my case, I work in the pharma industry so a lot of medical content which is really interesting to look out. I work with a lot of automation initiatives, workflow initiatives, looking a lot of metrics to see how content being reused, how we can optimize our system to increase that and increasingly a few of my more recent roles have been involved with modular content which are just starting to hear more about in the field. It seems to be inevitable when you’re talking about multichannel marketing campaigns that you really need to modularize your content instead of creating it from scratch and recreating it for 50 different channels. So it’s different types of content, different types of ecosystems, but it keeps me busy.
Deb Fanslow: My background actually I started as a graphic designer so I came into the field from the user standpoint I’d say as basically somebody who saw all the pain points working as a creative and got into being interested in managing the content and how we get it together. And I decided to move and to become a librarian and found my inner nerd and became a school library media specialist which I always tell people is one of the best training you can how to become a digital asset manager. Cause you’re dealing with people how they interface with your systems how they search their pain points. And it really gave me a good grounding and user experience. And for librarians, it’s really all about the user. So for me, that was wonderful. I worked my way through various industries because I actually wasn’t easy to get into DAM. I mean I worked in libraries, museums, archives, education field and really wanted to move over to the private sector. So I worked in e-commerce first a little bit. And now I pretty much have landed in Pharma which is great in New Jersey. But I I like to bring in that content that experience from other industries to really inform my current role.
Henrik de Gyor: What are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with Digital Asset Management?
Deb Fanslow: Well, how much time you have? You know, it’s interesting. I do keep tabs on the industry and what consultants are writing out there, what vendors are writing and practitioners and despite the volume of content on not just implementations but DAM programs. There’s still an awful lot to put in technology first. Instead of figuring out your workflows and your process and then choosing a tool to enhance that and on the other side been in situations where there is technology not fit for purpose that people are you trying to use a system that has some sort of repository and are trying to use that as a dam. And I would say on the people’s side staffing, staffing, staffing. I’ve been in situations as well where you know they expect this the child to do everything and they don’t have the people behind it not just to administrate the system which has become more of a focus lately.
Deb Fanslow: But you really really need somebody in that QC (quality control) role because your data is everything. And I believe there was a recent Henry Stewart conference where somebody mentioned something that really stuck to me and it was you can integrate your systems all you want but if that data is not good that you’re sending along then there’s no point. So my feeling is process and the actual information architecture that’s something that you can always work on and progressively improve. But if you don’t have the people and the right tool then you’re in trouble. So I’d say for challenges that’s been my personal experience. On the bright side, some of the successes I’ve seen again are looking at the industry and I think that the vendors and the organizations finally realizing that DAM is not just a repository. It’s part of your supply chain and it needs to be integrated.
Deb Fanslow: And one of the things that I really like is yes at least in the private sector print departments but it really gained steam in marketing which is great because they had to the heavy pockets. But I’m just starting to hear a peeps about DAM become an centralized service which is where I think it’s going to be most successful and strong organizations where that has been the case I have seen more success not just in managing the content but the rights around it and then working with cross-functional teams to really manage the end to end content management flow, not just rich media.
Henrik de Gyor: Deb, you started the DAM directory. Tell us more about this resource.
Deb Fanslow: I actually had to look up some stats. I didn’t realize myself that I started it way back in 2014 which sounds like a long time ago. I have seven guides published right now and what people don’t see is there’s 14 more in the back end that I’ve been working on for some time that might debut this year or next. It does take a long time to put context around the links but essentially what the DAM directory is it’s basically a compilation of the massive amounts of resources I collected through when I was getting my MLIS degree which is a Master’s in library and information science. So when I get overwhelmed I like to curate only what I need and get rid of the rest and put it somewhere that I can access. So it started out really as a professional resource for myself and figured you know what I need something in the cloud that makes sense to me is easy to find things and I can use it at any job because I’m a big fan of offloading information so I don’t have to try to memorize all. And. It occurred to me that social bookmarking sites were not going to cut it. I’m a librarian so I do like hierarchy. So I was a fan more of this directory site as I had seen it used for reference guides and academic libraries and I decided to approach the vendor and ask them if I could use it for a project that would help them advertise their platform. And wouldn’t you know the DAM directory was born. So we average about 550 views a month for all the guides combined.
Deb Fanslow: And even just looking at last year we had over 7,000 views total so I’d say it’s been a success. And one of the things I tried to do with that is to get others in the industry involved because A) I don’t know everything B) there’s just so much information out there and everyone has different strengths. The problem is we all have day jobs as well. So so far it’s pretty much just me. But one of the really interesting things like Yeah it’s out there you can go look and it’s you know you do keep it up to date the best that I can. But people can go in there and really get a sense of the industry and how it’s changing like I see blogs come and go as the conferences come and go different books are being published. I mean it’s really a great place to get a page the pulse of the industry as well.
Deb Fanslow: From my memory which I’ve already established is not that great. We have a basic guide on what I call corporate DAM which is really the private sector which I struggled with for a while because I mean DAM is DAM across all industries. But there really are different conferences and different books and different frameworks that people within different industries develop. So this one receives the most traffic. I’ve got others just specifically on topics like metadata. I have one coming up on taxonomy. I’ve got one on DAM vendors which is very popular and DAM education which is very overwhelming that one is still constantly throwing things in there. And I believe there is one coming. It’s not there already on basic tools and processes that you might use in adjunct with your DAM system for data crunching and all sorts of things. But there’s a variety of stuff on there and I do take requests if there’s something that people are interested in they want to send me some resources then I’m always open for that. You can reach that at damdirectory.libguides.com
Henrik de Gyor: Deb, what advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Deb Fanslow: You know what. This is a great question and I’m actually very passionate about helping people find what they want to do in their life and mentoring people and just bringing awareness and advocacy for the field because it really presents a great opportunity for folks who have creative backgrounds or marketing backgrounds to leverage that experience in Digital Asset Management where it is critical for you to understand how content is created and how it’s marketed, how it moves through various workflows and even how it’s distributed. So. I’ve typically found people who are most successful in DAM have multiple backgrounds. I mean yes you can go to library school or you know you can be a graphic designer, photographer, but you typically need to combine you know I.T. skills with content skills and people skills. So for me I mean there’s so many different ways to get into that field speaking out to folks who want to enter.
Deb Fanslow: My advice is always for people who contact me is something similar to a consultant told me five years ago is to start by managing your own collection and get experience anywhere you can. I would say if you have the means volunteer, find a mentor, attend meetups. One of the resources that isn’t quite as broadly promoted is a Google Group called DAM Peeps and it’s actually listed in the directory. But if you look it up on Google, it’s a site that is tailored for DAM administrators and consultants. Sorry vendors, we do limit it to non-commercial members but it’s I’m actually really proud of that because it’s a place where even solo administrators especially can go out and say “Hey, is anyone dealing with this or how do we deal with this? Do you have any advice on this topic?” and it’s become a very active group. Right now we have a little over 30 members, but I’m hoping that others can join because a lot of information professionals and DAM administrators they work alone and people might not always understand what they do and there’s not always a source of wisdom for all the little intricacies of the job. So I take my last year of advice for the people looking to get an is to tailor, tailor, tailor your past experience or the type of job you’re looking for. So research the job listings out there. Don’t just blindly submit your resume that you’ve been using for the last 10 years in a different industry that is not going to work. So for the folks who are in the industry, just don’t stop learning. I mean really there is so much to learn. You really just can’t afford to sit around and do the same thing you are doing today and tomorrow.