Alice Cameron discusses Digital Asset Management
Henrik de Gyor: This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with Alice Cameron. Alice, how are you?
Alice Cameron: I am doing well, Henrik. How are you?
Henrik de Gyor: Great. Alice, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
Alice Cameron: So I got involved with Digital Asset Management kind of haphazardly. I did my undergraduate degree in history and couldn’t quite decide what to do with that. I had always enjoyed library and archives, so decided to transfer that into a Masters in Library and Information Science [MLIS] at Dominican University, which is out in River Forest, Illinois. And from there, I actually had really good luck in my internship and ended up interning with WFMT radio to work with their Studs Terkel radio archive. So we worked in transcribing a lot of those interviews and it really opened my eyes to the world of what librarianship meant. And then I think unlike most grad students, was very luckily offered a position at McDonald’s global headquarters the day after I graduated with their DAM system. So something that I had never really known existed turned into my career. And from there, I began my work at Northwestern University.
Alice Cameron: I currently run our Digital Asset Management system. I was brought on right before we signed with our vendor since we have over 36 marketing department alone and that’s outside of necessarily just regular schools and departments, each housing their own marketing content. It was very important that they had a centralized place where people were able to find what they needed and share what they needed, make sure it was stored properly. So it really went from the opposite that, that I am in, in global marketing, having this really incredible idea. And from there I implemented this system, I know run this system from day to day. There are a lot of different levels to have it. But my main approach and what encompasses all of it is kind of seeing the asset as a holistic life cycle and making sure that from creation to preservation we are handling the asset and the way that we should from beginning to end.
And now I’m also seeing, you know, we’re based that we can do that before the asset has even created. So, you know, when we’re scheduling photo shoots and things like that, making sure that for every step of the way, we’re doing all that we can to have it stored properly, to make sure that people are able to access what they need, to make sure that people cannot access what they’re supposed to and to use things in a way that are really going to help our brand, our help our university. So yeah, so a variety of different ways. I think as a DAM professionals see it.
Henrik de Gyor: Alice, How does a premier research university use Digital Asset Management?
Alice Cameron: So there are quite a few different ways. Really the most integral to us is, again, brand consistency. Making sure that, you know, since we do have so many different incredible institutions that we work with, having them all be able to access content immediately upon its creation and download it and use it in their marketing, in their presentations across the world. That’s really our main focus, for each of our schools, each of our departments and that encompasses all of our campuses. So since we are a universal university, we’re based in Qatar and we’re based in Evanston, in Chicago and also in San Francisco. So having a web platform where everybody can be on the same page, to make sure that our brand is being represented and the way that it should be is one of the best ways we can utilize the tool.
Henrik de Gyor: What are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with Digital Asset Management?
Alice Cameron: Just overall, again, I think that most people in the field can relate to it. There are again, just a lot of silos in organizations. It really needs to come from the top down. Throughout my career, I have seen it just kind of taper off though. So people are very excited about having a DAM and then the onboarding doesn’t go properly or people just kind of get stuck in workflows. It’s not necessarily anybody’s fault, but the way that DAMs are brought into any institution or organization. I think it’s really integral for that to be kind of a focus for anything to happen with it. You know you can buy a big expense system and if you don’t have anybody running it properly and you don’t have your employees or staff, they don’t have the ability to access things that they need to.
It’s not going to be used and it’s just kind of going to be another system that they have that they pay for that that doesn’t necessarily work for them. I think with that as well, having the professionals in the field, DAM is, in a lot of ways, it’s very old and it’s very new. So having people that have the right skill set is vital. I’ve been really, really fortunate to be able to partner with two different ALA-accredited library schools, graduate schools and to use their incredible students to help us with our system and to also kind of open up conversations with other organizations who need a DAM Professional. You know, there’s no real like here’s a website, go to here’s a here’s a degree that I can take. Things are popping up definitely, but there’s not kind of a, a strong group that is mandating or showing, you know, these are the necessary qualifications.
As I said earlier, kind of coming into this with a, with a library background, I didn’t know DAM existed, you know, I didn’t really realize what my degree would lead me to and when I look at it now, Oh wow, you know, this Masters in Library and Information Sciences [MLIS] is really a Masters in DAM for me. They’re all focusing now on, on metadata and taxonomy and all of these very integral things. And at the end of the day it’s so much about storing, preserving, getting access to information that’s really the highlight of librarianship, of being an archivist and also being a DAM professional. So I think just seeing kind of the crossover since so many people come into the field in different ways. A lot of photographers. Graphic designers. It really kind of fans all over the place. But I think the lack of having, you know, like kind of a central professional organization that can say, “Hey, look, here are the necessary qualifications for these people that you’ll want” can be definitely hard to overcome.
And it also makes it harder to explain to people what kind of, what we do when it’s often people are hired for a specific job and it ends up becoming something that DAM is the project, but then they are pulled into a lot of different directions and the DAM often loses its integrity and its usefulness. So I think it gets better explaining what the field requires of people is very important and I’d like to see that grow again. I’ve been able to do that, you know, with the students and connecting them with different groups. I know like Henry Stewart DAM, things like that are really great ways to kind of promote what will we do and show people how useful and you know, cost-effective it really is to have everything in one place. But yeah, I think that the struggle is really kind of the onboarding and also again, just showing people what it is that we do.
Henrik de Gyor: And what advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and become aspiring DAM professionals?
Alice Cameron: I would definitely say not to plug librarianship too much, but a lot of these schools are transferring their program, the names like iSchool, you know, information school, because there is so much data out there and we need to figure out what to do with all of it. So my advice would be get a Masters in Library and Information Science and focus in on DAM. Then come and take a practicum or do an internship. I do think that that’s really useful. Also trying to find places to learn more from other professionals. So much of this is networking and talking to others in the field about what they do. I’m very lucky again to work at an incredible university that gives me the opportunity to talk to other professionals at other universities who are doing the same thing and we’re able to see what missteps are there. What can we do better? What areas are you working in that maybe we’re not utilizing that or not leveraging? So definitely for people who want to become DAM professionals, I would say just doing the research and finding out what I needed and also seeing things from, again, this kind of much higher level perspective of, you know, not getting stuck in editing metadata and things like that that are, that are very necessary and it’s so important, but seeing kind of the longterm goal of what we’re hoping to do with assets is vitally important.
Henrik de Gyor: Thanks Alice
Alice Cameron: You’re very welcome.
Henrik de Gyor: For more on this, visit anotherdampodcast.com for another 200 episodes and transcripts of the interviews. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks again.
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July 7, 2018 at 9:36 PM
Alice does a great job teaching about asset lifecycles and organizational collaboration. I did an internship with her at NU during my second year of grad school, and now that I’ve graduated, I see that managing digital assets will be a central part of my new career. We have an important mission to preserve intellectual content and build organizational strength through connecting people with information.
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