Another DAM Podcast

Audio about Digital Asset Management

Another DAM Podcast interview with Jennifer Griffith and Elizabeth Keathley of UPS

Here are the questions asked:

  • How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
  • Congratulations on winning a 2010 DAMMY Award. Why does a shipping and logistics company use a DAM?
  • What advice would you like to give to DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?


Henrik de Gyor: [0:02] This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset
Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with Jennifer Griffith and
Elizabeth Keathley. [0:11] How are you?
Jennifer Griffith: [0:12] Great, how are you?
Henrik: [0:13] Great! How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
Jennifer: [0:18] OK, well, I manage the Digital Asset Management system for
UPS for our global communications function. That includes all communications,
employees, and our agency to create collateral on our behalf around the globe.
[0:37] I’ve managed the team for about three years now. Prior to that, I produced
and directed video for UPS and served in a project management role.
[0:49] During that time, I spent…I guess about nearly 10 years learning about
DAM, starting with a field trip down to CNN in the late 1990’s and was sort of
hooked after seeing the setup they had there.
[1:04] Continued to kind of teach myself about the industry and attend conferences
when I was able, usually when they were in Atlanta or the Southeast.
[1:14] Sort of self-taught in the industry of asset management. A lot of reading of
online materials, a lot of benchmarking with some of my peers here in Atlanta.
[1:25] I advocated for a DAM system here in the communications function pretty
much every year, up until UPS turned 100.
Henrik: [1:34] Wow.
Jennifer: [1:35] We celebrated our centennial anniversary in 2007. Following
that centennial anniversary and trying to find 100 years’ worth of stuff without
a Digital Asset Management system, the company finally made a decision to
officially form the team, named me to management, to manage it, as I’d been
advocating for years. [1:56] Was able to hire a team. We had some dedicated
budget to get a system off the ground.
[2:03] That’s what I do. I’ll turn it over to Elizabeth.
Elizabeth Keathley: [2:05] I got into Digital Asset Management by way of
library and archive work. [2:10] I’ve got a degree in archive management out
of the library science school at Simmons College. I graduated the fall/winter
semester of 2002, I guess…2001? I’m not even sure. I’d have to go back and
look it up.
[2:27] I just love making information accessible. The definition of an archivist is
somebody who arranges and describes collections for preservation and access.
[2:36] That pretty much also describes all of my DAM work. I’ve come to it just
through my work in librarianship and archives.
Henrik: [2:45] Congratulations on winning the 2010 DAMMY award.
What was the DAMMY award for, specifically?
Jennifer: [2:50] Well, thanks, Henrik. We won in the category of Best
Storage, Archive, and Preservation Solution. We’re really excited to be recognized
in that category. [3:01] We’ve got a lot of focus on preservation because
of the metadata models and the Dublin Core Metadata models that we follow.
Elizabeth can, I’m sure, add more to the preservation focus that our team has.
Elizabeth: [3:16] Before I worked at UPS, one of the jobs I had was as a preservation
field services officer for a now defunct corporation called SOLINET,
which was the Southeastern Library Network. I helped people get grants from
the National Endowment for the Humanities to preserve their collections. [3:32]
During that time, I saw a lot of both successful and failed systems. I was able to
take what I had learned on that job, from traveling around the Southeast and
helping people set up their systems.
[3:47] The standards that the American Library Association and SAA and
Digicure and all these other people have put together to come up with a very
stable metadata modeling system for UPS.
[4:00] It’s XML based, like every good system should be. We’ve got a modified
Dublin Core account logging system.
[4:08] It doesn’t matter what happens in the future. No matter what, we can
always suck all of our metadata out of there and put it in any other system.
Henrik: [4:16] Great, that’s very important. Excellent! [4:18] Well, congratulations
again on that reward. Why does a shipping and logistics company use a DAM?
Jennifer: [4:23] Well, Henrik, at UPS we’re a very big company around the
globe. [4:28] In order to communicate globally to our customers and to our
employees, our communications professionals have to overcome differences in
language and culture and time zones to maintain that consistency of brand, to
have access to that central repository of brand assets and to all the guidelines
that go along with the proper use of those assets.
[4:55] Risk mitigation is a big part of what we do. Making sure we’ve got all our
rights management documents and our agreements tied to the assets in our
system within the communications group at UPS.
Henrik: [5:09] Great! What advice would you give to DAM professionals or
people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Jennifer: [laughs] [5:15] Wow. I would say attend the conferences…a big fan of
Henry Stewart, obviously a big fan of Createasphere. [5:25] The DAM community
has always been very open to sharing. Sharing best practices, sharing mistakes,
sharing lessons learned.
[5:34] You’ll hear it said that no DAM system is like another. Every company has a
system unique to their needs, customized to their needs.
[5:45] Still always very open to saying, oh, you might try this, or don’t do that, or
think of this. I would never hesitate to call on a DAM manager at any company
and say, hey, can you tell me about your system or give me some advice.
[6:02] I would also say obviously define your requirements. Then don’t budge
from those requirements. Early on, we wrote our use cases, defined our
[6:14] It’s easy to say, well, I guess we can live with that or we can live with that.
That always comes back to sort of haunt you afterward.
[6:23] Another thing that some of us in the DAM industry tend to do is forget
that these systems require updates. They require maintenance and budget for
enhancements every year. Budget for new user requests every year, where you
can, as you can.
[6:40] I think the large part of why we won the DAMMY award this year for Best
Storage, Archive, and Preservation Solution is really our team.
[6:49] As Elizabeth said, she’s got a masters’ degree in library science. We’ve got
Mary Katherine on our team who has the same degree.
[6:57] I’ve got a background in video production and project management. I can
navigate the politics in a large corporate company.
[7:06] Somehow, between us, we really make it work. We often take a vote in
making a change to our metadata models and in our taxonomies. We’ll argue
about a naming convention for hours on end.
[7:21] It’s having that right team together that helped us be successful.
Elizabeth: [7:24] That is absolutely true. When we were working on
our metadata modeling, we actually agreed then I think why we won the award.
[7:30] We were talking about making changes because we’re taking it in a new
kind of format or a new kind of asset or a group had a different set of requirements
than another. Often, Jennifer will argue for the change. Mary Katherine in
the balance…
Jennifer: [7:44] She breaks it.
Elizabeth: [7:45] Yeah, to break it. She’s the nicest one! We hired her right out
of the program at UNC Chapel Hill. [7:54] She was writing her masters’ thesis on
DAM. We hired her before she turned her thesis in, because we knew she was
the right person on the team.
[8:02] It really is a combination of people.
Henrik: [8:05] She wrote her thesis on DAM specifically? I’m sorry. Was she an
archivist or a library science person?
Elizabeth: [8:11] Yeah, she was in their library science program, studying to be
an archivist.
Henrik: [8:16] Well, great!
Jennifer: [8:17] Thank you so much, and thank you for doing these podcasts,
Henrik. We appreciate the time you put in to sharing this educational information
across the DAM community. It’s really helpful.
Elizabeth: [8:27] Yeah, and we actually listen to them, so…
Jennifer: [laughs] [8:29]
Henrik: [8:29] That’s always helpful. I appreciate that. Thank you so much! For
more on Digital Asset Management, log onto [8:32]
Thanks again.

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