The best advice from DAM professionals of 2017

The best advice from DAM professionals of 2017

2017 is coming to a close. But, as you know, digital asset management work never stops. Maybe you’re currently planning out what DAM projects you’ll accomplish in the new year (or still trying to finish some from this year). Perhaps you’re going to do a DAM cleanup or a site audit to make sure your system is still functioning properly. Whatever 2018 brings you, we wanted to provide you with some guidance along the way.

As you may already know, we run a DAM champs series here. DAM champs are DAM professionals we interview about their work to provide insight for the DAM community. We looked back at the interviews from 2017 and pulled out what we think is the best advice of 2017 from these professionals. Advice ranges from topics like user adoption, ROI, and, of course, metadata.

General DAM advice

“The amount of digital assets created daily, monthly, and annually by every organization is truly staggering. The ease with which these assets are created and destroyed has the potential to cause major problems for organizations, from time inefficiencies to valuable assets being lost or rendered unusable. Employing dedicated systems, strategies, and governance for managing digital assets is essential for thriving in today’s landscape.” — Jennifer Pflaumer

“DAM is there as a partner and an enabler. Once you understand this really well, you’ll look for opportunities in the technology to accelerate and supercharge how the business delivers.” — Mark Leslie

“I also think the notion of having better-informed companies that understand the complexity of DAM and some oversight on accreditation instead of companies just calling themselves a DAM company, the future will improve. How good a consultant is and how much information they know, are they really agnostic, have they really dug deep in domain research, etc.…it all kind of factors into this.” — Mark Davey

“I highly recommend networking with those already working in the field, whether it be reaching out via social media or attending industry conferences like Henry Stewart or local Meetups. I also recommend getting your hands on a few DAM and taxonomy books; there are a lot more available now than there were back when I started. The internet is also a great resource; there are a ton of prerecorded conference videos, interviews, and general overviews on DAM to learn from. It also helps to explore and familiarize yourself with the different DAM solutions on the market.” — Sarah Karolski

“I know that in business, continuity can be critical. You can’t discount that, but you also can’t let how you do things today get in the way of how you could be doing them tomorrow or six months or a year from now.” — Mark Leslie

Getting buy-in from stakeholders and proving ROI

“My advice for those trying to get a DAM system is to find multiple influencers and executive management backers to support you and believe in the vision. This way, if one c-level supporter leaves, you have others that still support the plan. It is important that one of those influential supporters becomes your product owner and that they own the responsibility of prioritizing your team’s work.” — Gabe Ables

“Be patient and don’t give up. Find the one decision maker who will listen and turn him or her into a DAM advocate. You will need leadership level buy-in if you want your DAM initiative to succeed.” — Sarah Karolski

“At the end of the day, digital asset management done correctly has the potential to save the business money, so if we can make the right assets as productive as possible, we can save money on photography costs. We can save money on retouching costs. We can support the brand by intelligent reuse of assets across multiple different touchpoints. If you’re using your assets efficiently, then you’re not spending money that you don’t need to.” — Jason Gould

“DAM can deliver all of this and more with a roadmap that is funded and backed so that a level of maturity can be reached to show the value and ROI in the technology and effort. We live in an immediate-gratification world, but curating a collection of rich media content that meets changing needs of the end users takes time and consistent leadership. DAM leaders are seeing one story after another about how to secure backing and gain a following to make them successful. You will need to work hard to realize the greatest things about DAM due to these internal challenges.” — Gabe Ables

User adoption

Best DAM advice of 2017

“The absolute most important thing that anyone trying to deploy a DAM needs to do is to understand their users and cater to their needs. You need to determine how DAM can not only help the group implementing it, but how it could benefit everyone that will interact with the system in different ways.” — Dan Piro

“First, evaluate your needs, understand the current pain points, and determine specific use cases for DAM within your organization. Many DAM systems have similar functionality, so having a basic understanding of the requirements to fulfill will help you to better evaluate which system is a good fit. Involve stakeholders in a variety of departments from the beginning to include all points of view and ensure that the decision to move forward with a particular system is shared. This will foster greater adoption across the organization once a system is chosen.” — Jennifer Pflaumer

“Evolving the work culture is without a doubt the hardest challenge. People are resistant to new ideas because maybe they’re too harried or just stuck in their ways. You see it when you’re struggling to get user adoption of any new system. No amount of technology can change this. One of the big reasons for building better technology and processes is to help our teams thrive and to benefit the business. They certainly have not been empowered to do it for themselves. It’s us who have the mandate and the ability to envision a better way. I truly view this as noble work.” — Kevin Gepford

“Understand that you have to show early value for the robust investment in the DAM and that value needs to be felt by end users. Build a coalition of followers by simply giving good customer service, practicing servant leadership, and using the words of your end users throughout all of your endeavors. Gather the needs of your end users in an organized way. Let your product owner decide on the prioritization of what you work on, and consistently deliver content and features. I recommend you never stop engaging your end users in the process. Include them in your testing, continuous improvement, and let them determine when you are done.” — Gabe Ables

“You have to start with the users. Users and adoption go hand-in-hand, but as soon as you use the word ‘users,’ you’ve abstracted yourself from the person who’s going to be sitting there in that environment. So, consider what DAM can do in order for them to have a partner in doing their job. What could make their job easier? If you can make somebody’s job easier, then you’ve got adoption. If you can make somebody’s job easier, you’re not going to have to ask them to use the system. You’re not going to have to beg people to please make sure they’re adding metadata. They’re going to ask you what they can do to get access to it.” — Mark Leslie

Metadata and governance

“It’s worth restating that the DAM system is the center of a successful enterprise marketing solution. However, the technology you choose is only one consideration and, in my opinion, the least important. A company must also invest in and realize the greater importance of both people and processes. Without a solid plan on roles, governance, metadata, training, ingestion, etc., you will not have a successful DAM.” — Steve Bevilacqua

“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.” — Jan Sykes

“Fall in love with metadata, both adding it and improving on it. This is where you will spend a lot of your time, so you really have to enjoy it.” — Sarah Karolski

Closing thoughts

“I think that DAM can deliver that update-once-publish-many dream that many in our industry have sought. DAM can bring organizational thought around your company’s greatest investments — its intellectual property and people. If you can protect your investment, reuse it versus recreate it, and bring value and ease to your end users or creative community, you have done a heck of a lot with one system.” — Gabe Ables

“If your organization does not already utilize DAM, you have no idea what kind of positive transformation awaits you. Prepare to be amazed. With DAM, it can be possible to extend the capabilities of art and content creation teams without growing the size of the teams. All the hours they previously invested doing processes which the DAM can handle, you can repurpose that time to the team. Now they can make new stuff instead of making copies of the thing they just made. That’s a big deal. Your DAM should work for you. Your DAM needs to be working hard for you.” — Mark Leslie


And there you have it, the best advice from DAM professionals of 2017. We hope you can use some of this advice whether you’re just starting out in DAM or you’re a seasoned DAM expert. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to contact us.

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