DAM Champ: Jan Sykes

DAM champ Jan Sykes has more than 20 years of experience in the information industry and has been the principal of Information Management Services, Inc. since 1998. Information Management Services is a consulting firm that concentrates on information and knowledge management projects.

DAM champ: Someone who supports finding, setting up, or maintaining a digital asset management system (DAM). There is a wide variety in DAM champions, who come from positions in production, creative, management, IT, and marketing.

DAM champ Jan Sykes What is your role in supporting or organizing a digital asset management (DAM) project?

My role in supporting DAM projects has been two-fold: drafting recommendations for taxonomy and metadata structures as well as actually developing taxonomy terms and metadata values.

How long have you been doing DAM or been responsible for the DAM system?

I have worked with DAM-specific projects over the past year and a half. The majority of my career has focused on helping knowledge workers across a range of industries access the information they need in order to be productive in their work, primarily from research databases.

Is your background in library science or is it more on the creative side?

My approach is from a knowledge/information management perspective, leveraging controlled vocabularies and fielded data to facilitate access to relevant information from the huge repositories of digital information we all are dealing with these days.

How did you find out about DAM systems as a way to deal with digital assets?

I became intrigued with DAM systems a few years ago when I noticed colleagues in a professional association posting enthusiastically about career opportunities in this area. From that time, I’ve listened to webinars, attended conference sessions devoted to DAM, and read blogs, white papers and newsletters about DAM. It is clear that although digital asset metadata fields and values are unique, basic information management classification and labeling principles apply.

How do you interact with DAM and digital assets in your day to day?

Daily DAM interaction occurs only when I am involved in a consulting project in this area.

What would you say are the top one or two areas of responsibility and ownership that make you proud to be a DAM champ?

The potential for 1.) enhanced operational efficiency in terms of findability and 2.) reducing (and possibly eliminating) the need to recreate assets make it easy to promote DAM at all levels, including to senior management.

Why is DAM so important?

DAM is incredibly important for finding assets efficiently, reusing assets in accordance with an enterprise brand strategy, and minimizing risks of misuse of licensed images.

What’s the best thing about DAM — your DAM or any DAM?

In the best of all worlds, the DAM becomes a central resource where it’s easy to quickly find the latest versions of authorized assets.

What’s your biggest challenge as a DAM champ?

The biggest challenge is quickly getting up to speed on the subject matter covered in the DAM, figuring out the business language of a new client, and getting a sufficient sampling of assets to review for making helpful recommendations regarding taxonomy and metadata. Every DAM has its own goals and character. For example, DAM in a retail environment is different from DAM in a manufacturing company, but underlying principles for organizing assets apply to both.

What advice would you give to people who are trying to get a DAM system in their organization?

The advice I would give to people considering a DAM system parallels advice I would give for any knowledge/information management initiative: Spend plenty of time in the planning phase to thoroughly understand user needs, document all assets that will go into the DAM, develop an initial basic taxonomy and metadata schema, set up a governance strategy, and begin regular communication with potential users. It’s necessary to understand that the early-stage taxonomy and metadata framework and the governance strategy will both evolve as assets are ingested and users provide feedback about usability to DAM administrators. This ongoing feedback-enhancement process improves the user experience and contributes to increased adoption and ROI.

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