Here are the questions asked:
How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
Why is Digital Asset Management so complex?
What are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with Digital Asset Management?
What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Ian Matzen: 00:08 I’m well, thank you very much, Henrik.
Henrik de Gyor: 00:09 Ian, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
Ian Matzen: 00:14 I’ve been involved with Digital Asset Management for about six years professionally. Four of those years, I’ve been a remote Digital Asset Manager. I’m currently working as the Digital Asset Management Librarian with Wells Fargo. They have a Marketing Department and they have a Digital Asset Management system there. I’ve been helping with the system’s rollout and testing new features, training new groups, and setting up the system for those new groups. I’ve also been working on asset migration, workflow automation and spending a bit of time on user adoption. In my work there, I have been serving as a consultant. We had a DAM reporting project that involves data analysis and display… or working with that… Visualizing that data for us to understand that better. I’ve also been working on some projects involving record retention and various user adoption projects including a DAM gamification project that I’m currently rolling out.
Ian Matzen: 01:24 Before that, I was the Digital Asset Manager at America’s Test Kitchen, which is a Boston-based publisher where I managed not only the Digital Asset Management system, but also their content management system and our workflow management system. I did a fair amount of metadata modeling for both the DAM and the CMS, Digital Asset Management system and the Content Management System. And one of the high points there is I built, designed and deployed an enterprise taxonomy and did a fair amount of automation, including asset ingest automation and digital rights management tagging automatically to digital assets for digital rights management tagging. I also did a bit of work on capturing raw data around system usage and analyzing that data to measure specifically the way that our users were reusing digital assets to show the value of the system.
Ian Matzen: 02:24 Even before that my work was as a Digital Asset Technician for a Net-a-Porter. They are a London-based luxury brand online retailer. They have offices around the world. And there, I developed a controlled vocabularies for various groups. I configured the user interface and did a quality assurance during various upgrades.
Ian Matzen: 02:45 But my work with digital assets really predates the six years I’ve been doing Digital Asset Management professionally. I’ve been working with digital assets ever since I took my first film editing class in university. I was part of the first class to really move away from the Moviola flatbed and into nonlinear editing. So, I’m really passionate about rich media, about audiovisual media workflows and technology especially as it relates to part of the creative process. For me, nothing’s really more exciting than helping art directors, designers, editors, and motion graphic artists and other artists create their work.
Ian Matzen: 03:24 That was the case when I first started working at an advertising agency and remains so in my work at I’m Marketing Department at Wells Fargo.
Henrik de Gyor: 03:34 Ian, Why is Digital Asset Management so complex?
Ian Matzen: 03:39 There are several different aspects that are complicated or complex about Digital Asset Management. I think the first that I can think of is the ever-expanding definition of what we mean by digital assets. And in most circles, when we think of or talk about digital assets, we think of audiovisual media including images, videos, animations and audio. However, more recently in some of the jobs that I’ve been in, we’ve added a lot, many more different types of files and formats for that list, including emails, text, HTML, even data are being managed by DAM Managers. So the question is, you know, should every type of visual file be supported by the DAM system?
Ian Matzen: 04:22 Ideally, they should be, but not all of the DAM systems out there are created equal. And really, you mean what it comes down to is, is choosing the best option for the digital content you’re managing. For example, the Digital Asset Management system I worked with at America’s Test Kitchen worked very well with images, whereas the current system that I worked with at Wells Fargo worked very well with video. So when it comes down to, you know, finding the right system for the material that you’re managing.
Ian Matzen: 04:53 Another aspect that adds to the complexity of Digital Asset Management is managing expectations. And that goes for users as well as the stakeholders and folks who you might report to. I think many users expect the Digital Asset Management system to behave in the same way that a search engine does. They might be similar, but the two are inherently different when it comes to search.
Ian Matzen: 05:19 Content is index differently. For starters, search engines rely on inbound links and sitemap indexing. Whereas Enterprise search requires applying terms from a controlled vocabulary and the context, of course, is very different. Also, companies want to capitalize on their investment in a DAM system. And so they turned customizing the system to meet their business requirements rather than opting for another best of breed product. So in this way, companies unknowingly risk customizing themselves into a corner, making system upgrades and migration, very challenging if not prohibitively expensive. So before or enhancing the system, it’s a good idea to ask whether another reasonable, reasonably priced system might be a better option and seek out other customers of that system who have done some enhancements to the same system that you’re using. There are risks for either option, whether you want to customize or build out your current DAM solution or go with another system.
Ian Matzen: 06:19 So a good project manager can help mitigate those risks. Finally, I think the other aspect that lends itself to the complexity is the accelerating pace of technology. Whether you know how to build an extension in Java, design a workflow automation using logic or having a solid understanding of what these are, I think it’s a good idea to at least be aware of them and have some idea of how to develop a software, how workflows can be put together and at least designed, because I think there are a lot of aspects to Digital Asset Management and the more you know, I think that the more valuable, the more helpful you’ll be in your work.
Henrik de Gyor: 07:00 Ian, What are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with Digital Asset Management?
Ian Matzen: 07:07 I think one of the main challenges to Digital Asset Management is search. Search is dependent on metadata. Much of the metadata needs to be manually entered. Though some of it can be automatically appended to digital files or to the records within a DAM system. Really it comes down to users devoting the time to adding that descriptive information. it is challenging to get them to do that and even more so getting them to do it consistently and over time. That time never really ends because metadata must change to reflect new contexts and new users that are being onboarded. So I think that that is a challenge to managing digital assets. I think the other aspect that is challenging with Digital Asset Management is showing trust. And I think what I’ve seen with many of the systems that I’ve managed is that slow interfaces or slow experience, buggy systems. If there was poor UI or lack of transparency, they all had people’s view of that DAM system.
Ian Matzen: 08:17 Their trust in that DAM system will be impacted by those aspects. So it’s much harder to win back that trust if people are experiencing one of those issues. So it’s important to, I do a lot of testing to ensure that the system is working. Quality assurance is a huge part of my job. And also to a certain extent doing a fair amount of examining the user interface and doing a UAT to ensure that the interface itself is making sense to them. And, of course, having some sort of way of tracking the digital assets through their life will end, have they been downloaded when they’ve been used in a layout perhaps if there are images. All that adds to the trust that the users have in the system.
Ian Matzen: 09:05 Some of the successes that I’ve seen in Digital Asset Management have been that for one, Digital Asset Management is a bonafide profession. I think because we have conferences now there are many job postings that ask for Digital Asset Management professionals. I think that that is a win. I think it’s very important to acknowledge and acknowledge the work that you’ve done and that other writers and other folks who are in our industry, I think it’s that’s good. Also, I think another success is centralization, and I’m not just talking about having all of our assets in one system, but also consolidating the number of systems that are found at that various companies. I think, in a rather than having, you know, four or five different, systems, some of which might be system of records, some may not be. I think it’s important to acknowledge that being able to consolidate them, that the material, but also reduce the number of systems that are being used and paid for by companies is a success.
Ian Matzen: 10:11 Another aspect or another success of Digital Asset Management is realizing workflow efficiencies. I think there’s an opportunity to renegotiate and redesign workflows. And I think that many of us working in this arena in Digital Asset Management would say that that’s something they spend a good deal of their time doing. Some examples are auto ingesting digital assets into the system. At America’s Test Kitchen, I set up a fully automated ingest. We went from doing a lot of the cataloging manually and would, you know, the folks who were consuming those digital assets had to wait for that material to be ingested before they could see and use that. Having that automated allowed people to access us those much quicker. The other aspect I think of automation is validating metadata at, again, America’s test kitchen, we found a way to actually go through and ensure that the metadata was there, that it existed.
Ian Matzen: 11:13 Folks took the time to put it in, but also validating the name against a convention we had set up. And then finally there’s a way that you can do a fair amount of work auto-tagging material. The taxonomy, that I set up for America’s Test Kitchen. One of the aspects that I, or at least challenges that I faced was applying that taxonomy to our existing or legacy content. We had over 800,000 records. Having an enterprise taxonomy is a great accomplishment, but if you can’t go back and, and actually tag that material, it’s not going to have as much impact or value. So I did develop a means of auto-tagging or existing content through automation.
Ian Matzen: 11:59 So, the last success I wanted to mention was the increased value of digital assets. I think by having a digital asset sitting on your desktop, it may be the most wonderful, incredibly creative item, but if no one can see them… To see that asset, it’s not going to have as much value as it would if it was in a Digital Asset Management system where it can be found and reused. So I think access is a huge part of that equation. But I think ultimately our goal is to make digital assets findable and see that their value increase.
Henrik de Gyor: 12:35 Ian, what advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Ian Matzen: 12:41 I would suggest that they would navigate to my blog. I have a blog called tameyourassets.com and I do a fair amount of blogging and writing and my intent is to share my knowledge and experience with others, especially best practices. So I hope that listeners would consider going to that URL. I think another aspect or another suggestion that I have is just know your DAM systems. It’s important to know what current systems there are both within the organization that might be a part of, but also, systems that are being offered by other vendors. It’s important to see what current and upcoming features they’re offering so that you could ask for those features for the current system that you’re using. I think another aspect of that is as partner with other system adopters or other people managing the DAM system, the same DAM system that you’re using to drive that vendor road map. So I think partnering and forming that network of system users and managers is very important. And then, also another aspect is education. I think it is very important to learn and master DAM best practices, to ask questions, learn from other practitioners, take online courses or even take courses at a local community college.
Ian Matzen: 14:05 I think finding courses in library science or computer science or data analysis, will all help you at least to give you that understanding of what those aspects are that, you can talk with other folks in your organization to help manage digital assets. And then finally, I just wanted to mention, finding a mentor in the Digital Asset Management space. They don’t have to be necessarily someone with much more or any additional experience that you might have. It could be a peer, but the benefits of having a mentor would be to find some encouragement and support for your journey in the Digital Asset Management space. They can offer you honest advice and feedback, what you’re doing and how you’re managing digital assets, and then, of course, having a mentor is helpful to expand your professional network.
Henrik de Gyor: 14:57 Great. Well, thanks Ian.
Ian Matzen: 14:59 You’re welcome. Thank you very much.
If you are interested in attending the Insight Exchange Network’s DAM Practitioners Summit on January 30-31, 2020 in New York City, you can find more details here. Use the discount code M131ADC for a 15% discount on registration. #IENDAM
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