Laurel A Calsoni

Thursday, June 11, 2015

DAM Positions Are Going Unfilled

From CMS Wire
By Elizabeth Keathley June 15, 2015

“Why spend millions to buy, launch and populate a DAM system without the staff to make sure it works?”


As part of my work at Atlanta Metadata Authority, I help place new employees or train existing ones at companies deploying DAM (Digital Asset Management) systems or retooling their DAM strategies. And recently a small but curious pattern in the hiring (or not hiring) of digital asset managers has appeared.

Three digital asset manager positions at Fortune 500 companies have stayed vacant for more than six months in the last fiscal year. These were positions that desperately needed staffing, but no hires were made after repeated rounds of interviews. The field of DAM staffing and consulting is a rather small one, so I was able to talk with colleagues in different parts of the US about these positions. We all had been contacted about the same jobs. We all offered staffing, consulting and in at least one case, help re-writing the job description for free, yet the positions remain unfilled.

It’s not that these positions lacked for qualified applicants. I, and my colleagues, are regularly approached by knowledgeable information workers with backgrounds in library science, IT, design and photography looking to move into DAM. People want to work with DAM systems. It’s not that those working directly with DAM systems aren’t desperate to hire. A host of posts on many forums acknowledges that a DAM system without dedicated, full-time staffing will most likely fail. Why spend millions to buy, launch and populate a DAM system without the staff to make sure it works?

Continued  Click Here

posted by Laurel Calsoni at 7:33 pm  

Friday, April 24, 2015

Are you building a new DAM?

Top 10 Mistakes When Implementing a DAM Solution from DataBasics
posted by Laurel Calsoni at 10:55 am  

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Solving The DAM Implementation Doughnut Problem

DAM News
by Ralph Windsor on November 26, 2014

On DAM Guru last week, there was an interesting interview with Laurel Calsoni, who you can follow on Twitter @DigitalArchivst.  The item is a good one and Laura makes a number of points I would agree with.  There is one, in particular, in answer to the question “what is your greatest DAM challenge?”

My problem with DAM stems from DAM staffing – lack of or just lopsided. It seems that companies are willing to license and install the DAM software but stop short of having a proper DAM team in place for the initiative. There are requests for managers to lead a DAM effort but not to implement. My question is, who then is doing all of the work? As a hands-on digital archivist, my love is the content and I want to stay as close to the assets as possible.” [Read More]

This is a problem I have observed also.  It seems like a lot of people want to talk about Digital Asset Management, but there are a much smaller volume of volunteers to actually manage the digital assets themselves.  In part, I can see why this is the case, because the core of the task is about cataloguing which many people find unappealing due to the repetitive nature of the work and mental effort involved.

CONTINUED. Read more on DAM News HERE

posted by Laurel Calsoni at 4:42 pm  

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

6 Reasons Why People Don’t Use Your DAM

CMS Wire

By Neil Monahan  |  Aug 20, 2014

You’ve invested time and money in creating a new digital asset management (DAM) system — and then you find your people have stopped using it and reverted to their old ways of managing and sourcing digital assets. That’s frustrating, but it happens sometimes. If you know the reasons why this happened, you can get started on fixing it.

Let’s take a look at the six chief reasons why your users might have fallen out of love with your DAM system and the lessons you can learn:

Reason #1: The interface is unintuitive and unfriendly

Many DAMs tend to be conceived and built by technicians rather than by branding and marketing people. The technician’s approach is naturally designed to appeal to technical people, but what’s really required is design by people who understand what non-technical users need. An interface that’s clunky to use, unintuitive to navigate, difficult to manage and confusing to look at will intimidate users. And they will prefer to avoid using it — simple as that.

Lesson: Keep the UI clean, intuitive and appealing

Reason #2: Too many near duplicates

We frequently see DAM systems that hold far too many duplicate assets in a variety of formats and sizes. One client’s existing DAM had more than 20 versions of the same image in every permutation of size and file format. A system like this makes for a confusing and frustrating user experience. To improve the UX and reduce system complexity, store just one high-res version of an asset and give users download options to get the file in whichever format they need.

Lesson: Cull duplicate assets and provide download wizards

Reason #3: Poor quality or irrelevant assets

Poor quality and irrelevant assets will frustrate the end-user, who has to spend unnecessary time hunting down the particular asset he/she needs. The efficient, effective DAM contains only up-to-date, quality assets that are relevant to the current brand values and standards. Fewer quality assets to choose from also reduces risk of error or inconsistency in content the user may be creating.

Lesson: Delete assets that don’t contribute to building the brand or enhance your marketing

Reason #4: Too many out-of-date assets

Never import and store old and out-of-date files into a new system. Review digital assets and cull any that are out of date or irrelevant. A ruthless clean-out will prevent the system from getting bogged down in a swamp of old files and unwieldy file structures. The effective DAM enables a user to tag assets with a review date or lifespan — that ensures all content is up to date and avoids potential legal issues around licensing images.

Lesson: Cull out-of-date assets on a regular basis

Reason #5: Too many metadata fields

The user needs to be able to tag assets with metadata fields, but will probably be less inclined to do so if faced with too many field options. Keep metadata fields to a minimum to encourage people to populate them. It’s also worth pointing out that overreliance on free-text fields can result in human error and personal interpretation during tagging.

To be functional and effective, metadata fields should serve at least one of three purposes:

  1. Enable users to find content using the means most intuitive to them.
  2. Store a value required for reporting.
  3. Control or route the asset through your workflow.

Lesson: Balance the number of metadata fields to avoid over-facing the user with data to update

Reason #6: No assets returned for popular assets

Make popular assets readily available. Unreturned searches will only frustrate users and prompt them to revert to manual requests for digital assets. Common reasons for unreturned assets within a system include: misspellings (especially with global systems); delay in getting assets on to the system after a new campaign or products are released; and permission errors. Run reports for the most popular searches regularly. Coupled with reports on popular searches that didn’t return any results, this will provide a good understanding on how the system is being used.

Lesson: Use data and reports to amend metadata fields so assets can be found easily


posted by Laurel Calsoni at 6:23 pm  

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

DAM Glossary

DAM Glossary is a resource containing definitions relating to Digital Asset Management and related fields. It covers a range of different subjects including metadata, hardware, interoperability, asset manipulation.

The glossary can be searched in several different ways:
Alphabetical index using the first letter of each term
Search with predictive text
Filter by subject area


posted by Laurel Calsoni at 6:22 pm  

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Five Ways to Better Manage Digital Assets

From EContent
By Eric Fulmer
Jan 29, 2013

Despite over two decades of awareness that digital assets present a unique and critical challenge for organizations of every size and shape, effective Digital Asset Management (DAM) remains more fantasy than reality. Some organizations have invested significant resources with mediocre results, while many others limp along with folders on a server and the never-ending problem of too many versions in too many places.

Rather than throwing in the towel, here are five tips that bring a new perspective to battling the “asset proliferation” monster.

Take a project-centric approach

Digital assets have little intrinsic value except in the context of how they serve as components of a marketing campaign, product launch, catalog, or other project. But traditional DAM takes an “asset-centric approach,” placing the asset at the center of the user experience.

Approaching asset management in a project-centric context keeps the focus on the bigger picture. How do all the components (including digital assets) meet the overall project goal? How can my organization make sure the key elements of each project are easily located, reducing wasted time chasing content? Is there a process to speed up approval to meet deadlines without eleventh hour Hail Mary passes of creative flurry? I think we can agree that those late nights are only fun once.

Project management software tuned to the creative workflow and integrating work-in-progress DAM is the right toolset for the in-house creative team. Creatives need management, but often resent processes with perceived bureaucratic burden. By making the project management component as transparent as possible and focusing on the creative tools that drive it, the team can become more efficient without feeling smothered. The project is the central metaphor of the creative process, and it remains missing in action from most creative production and asset management tools.

Make metadata work by making time to manage it

Metadata is the key to successful asset management, yet it’s the bane of asset managers and the whole creative team. There is an inverse relationship between an individual’s personal knowledge of the metadata associated with an asset and their need to document that metadata. Consequently, metadata management is one of the least developed disciplines in the organization.

Often the largest repository of relevant metadata lies in the brains of the creative team, who may have the least use for it and are legitimately overburdened with more urgent work. Making metadata management a priority means dedicating time for the process within the creative team, which will not be possible with a staff already struggling to meet deadlines due to thin organizational structures and a lack of project management tools.

This initiative is critically dependent on the first tip. Get organized enough to actually have time available for strategic imperatives – like metadata management – that are most susceptible to landing on the back-burner.

Differentiate strategic assets from tactical assets

Not all assets are created equal in terms of long-term value to the organization. A “one size fits all” approach to managing digital assets using an Enterprise DAM is like dumping every piece of printed paper in the company vault with the assumption it will be needed someday. Sorting through hundreds of images of the same can of soup trying to decipher what’s different about each one is not for the faint of heart.

Implementing a simple review and approval process within the marketing team can quickly weed out the large percentage of assets than can continue to live in a “work in progress” DAM, only accessible by the creative team, and push the handful of approved assets to the Enterprise DAM for wider availability. Again, we see the critical importance of a true workflow process within the creative team that will serve as a filter to avoid “asset glut.”

Keep creatives focused on creativity

Turning your most creative resources into file managers and “process cops,” tasked with policing how the rest of the organization uses assets, is not only poor resource allocation, it also reduces the quality of creative output by interrupting creative focus. Keep the creative team focused on what they do best by minimizing their administrative burden. Here are two methods: hire a dedicated ‘trafficker’ for review and approval of projects originating outside of the creative team, or invest in an automated approval workflow that reduces the demand on the creative team by eliminating meetings, endless email exchanges and “version mania.”

Data-driven insight via usage tracking

There is a fine line between brand consistency and snooze-inducing redundancy. A favorite image asset, for example, can easily become overused by the organization, resulting in reduced impact and a stale market perception. It’s critical to keep track of how often an asset is utilized and in what context. No one wants to see the same picture of Snuggies in the Sunday newspaper ad every week.

Many DAMs provide historical data on the number of times each digital asset in the repository was downloaded and by whom. But that information is only a clue to the mystery of where the asset actually ended up (if anywhere). The ultimate fate of the asset remains unknown unless manually tracked by some other process.

This speaks again to the value of a project-centric system. If a user can instantly see that a particular asset is linked to six separate projects, including the last four quarterly catalogs, it’s likely time to freshen the look of this particular element.

Asset proliferation has consistently outstripped the pace of adopting new management tools. But many DAM offerings remain pricey and anchored in legacy architecture. The arrival of new development environments enabling rapid deployment of web-centric, platform independent applications brings a new opportunity to address asset management as an integrated element of creative business processes, not as a static vault set apart from them. Here’s a simple litmus test: If your organization’s digital asset management system doesn’t work on an iPad, it’s time to consider what modern digital asset workflow tools can offer.


posted by Laurel Calsoni at 2:22 pm  

Friday, January 18, 2013

If file formats were people: Who’s allowed in your digital asset management nightclub?

Here’s profiles on five multimedia personalities to consider letting into Club DAM.

By Edward Smith
January 18, 2013

Most DAM managers I’ve spoken with are very protective about what goes into their collection of digital assets. Managing a rich media hoard is like being a bouncer at a popular nightclub and deciding who gets in and who gets told to take a hike. Just like a doorman at a hip ultralounge only letting in the ultra-hip, users following best practices only ingest the highest resolution file format available and don’t bother letting in a low-res JPEG (that grubby guy in line wearing jeans and a tank top).

For bouncers the reasoning is a little different, but for digital asset managers the idea is simple: save the best version of the file available now and download derivative formats from the DAM later when they’re needed. This strategy avoids wasting time and precious dance floor space (disk storage) on formats that may never be used.

Another advantage of storing high quality master files is providing a digital asset management system that adapts to users needs by quickly and easily providing files in the exact format required. If and when someone needs some media files in a particular format, the DAM can automatically convert the assets to provide the desired format. Your DAM has a reputation you need to build and protect. Providing users with a system that quickly gives them what they need to get their job done encourages user adoption and trust which is essential for a successful DAM project.

Five File Formats to Let In

When you’re lifting the red rope and using that “Save As” command, which file formats are best for uploading to your DAM? Check out the following profiles on five multimedia personalities to consider letting into Club DAM:

Click Here to continue reading and for illustrations

posted by Laurel Calsoni at 7:20 pm  

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Digital Asset Management Value Chain: The Future Direction of DAM In 2013 and Beyond

January 9, 2013

This article was collaboratively written by both Ralph Windsor and Naresh Sarwan of DAM News

The ‘Digital Asset Management problem’ is getting bigger and will become harder to solve via a single software application – whether you access it via the Cloud or installed internally on your organisation’s own servers. In our view, what is required is a more modular and process oriented approach, i.e. a Digital Asset Management Value Chain where end users can mix and match all the elements that contribute value to their Digital Asset Management strategy.

In 2011 and 2012, we assessed the prospects for the DAM sector with reference to the technology and business aspects of the industry. This year, we have elected to handle things slightly differently.

DAM gives the impression of a fast-moving sector, but many of the trends take place over a longer period that lasts many years and the pace of change in the industry is not quite as rapid as many of the participants would like to think. A number of the problems have been present for not just years but decades now – still without plausible solutions in many cases.

Although it might make good copy to write some pithy one-liners about what will happen over the forthcoming year, in reality it is rarely that straightforward and many of the predictions for 2013 look like re-statements of trends that are already taking place. The question with most is whether they will be more or less significant at the end of the year than the start, often they are not really very new developments.

With all that in mind, this year we have decided to drop the 2013 predictions and examine how the wider trends might develop over a longer period. Some of this might manifest itself in 2013 (and has even started already in some cases) but you might be waiting a number of years for them to become more obvious – and the other distinct possibility is that we just got it plain wrong!

The Digital Asset Management Value Chain Defined

If there is one big idea in this article, it’s what we are calling: “The Digital Asset Management Value Chain”. This sounds like a phrase we borrowed from a management consulting textbook and the sort of meaningless business jargon which we regularly take people to task with on these pages. However, after reading through our explanation, we hope you might agree that is an accurate description that does describe what DAM users are increasingly looking for and how the industry may develop as a result.

So what is the Digital Asset Management Value Chain? To understand this concept, you need to agree with two important principles:

  1. Digital assets means more than just digital files. While files are the core essence of an asset, it is the other DAM related activities, for example, cataloguing them with metadata, which transform a binary object (file) and add value so it can become an asset.
  2. The second principle is that DAM doesn’t describe a single unit of activity but groups together a variety of related tasks. Some of these need to be performed in close proximity to each other (both in time and physical space) but others may be carried out entirely independently by different individuals.

Click Here to continue reading


posted by Laurel Calsoni at 7:28 pm  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

DAM Building Blocks

From DAM Coalition
David Riecks | 11/26/2012
Part 1

The simple promise of any Digital Asset Management (DAM) system is that it makes it easier to find and use the assets (digital files) you have in your collection.

In order to fulfill that promise however, you will need more than just a software solution. A well developed DAM system is just that, a “system.” This means that all of the other parts of a good library/information science system need to be covered so that you have the process, procedures and policies of the entire workflow documented. Digital Asset Management software may enable a number of these steps in the workflow, but these image database, cataloging applications, or browsers are typically only a portion of the whole DAM equation.

There are fundamentals, building blocks if you will—that you should understand if you are attempting to launch or refine an existing DAM system. At their core, DAM systems are all about organization, because people can’t use what they can’t find.

One of the first things to understand is, “what the goal is of your particular DAM?” It’s important for those who create and maintain the DAM system know both what it is, as well as what it is not. There should be a primary goal, which should be obvious to both the users as well as those creating the system.  If, for exampe, the goal is store all of the digital images in use by the marketing department for the company over the LAN (local area network), then those are the types of digital files that should be in that DAM. If there are requests to add images that are used for other purposes—like legal compliance, engineering, building schematics, etc.—then it’s easy to know that those do not belong.  Or if others in the company now want to include video, audio and company logos files; this is likely to create problems if the DAM was only set up to deal with photographs. As a case in point, what happens if the underlying software doesn’t have the means to import or read in the metadata associated with Video files or display them? If the users will not be able to locate or view that type of asset later, then why even consider adding it in the first place?

Likewise, if the system is built with the purpose of providing assets to employees at a given location over a LAN; what happens when you need to provide access to others outside elsewhere in the state, country or world?  If this is something that is needed, it should be one of the original goals of the system. Otherwise, trying to provide this type of access later may not be possible without significant effort, or without creating potential security risks—possibly even making the system vulnerable to outside attacks.

The most basic processes common to most DAM software include the ability:

1. To create a record in a database for a each asset (or digital file “container”) provided.
2. To create a pictorial representation of that asset (typically referred to as a thumbnail).
3. To note the location of the file at the time it was recorded in the database (some systems may move the asset to a location of its choosing and then record the path to that location).
4. To read all or specific metadata values that are embedded in the asset and copy those values to it’s internal database.
5. To allow users the option to enter, replace, or append new metadata values to fields within the database.
6. To allow users to perform searches; using general or specific values; and display those assets (often by showing the thumbnail) that match the search criteria.

Most DAM software will provide support for one or more industry standards used by the specific file formats; allowing information to be shared with others using different software applications. For example, those DAM software offerings that focus on digital photos, will generally support information embedded using IPTC or XMP standards; while audio files will provide support for the ID3, or Broadcast Wave (BEXT) standards.

It is best to not assume—without first researching—that your DAM software will take care of any of the following:

* Tell you what types of files should or should not be added to the DAM.
* Read and import every type of format-specific metadata extracted from an asset.
* Tell you what you can or can’t do with the asset (i.e. “Rights Management”)
* Prevent the overwriting of a file by verifying that the filename for each asset is unique.
* Keep track of the file if it is moved or deleted from the original location by external programs.
* Know whether there are duplicate files, or derivatives of an existing file within it’s database.
* Know which image is the best from a given set, or may have been used previously.
* Know whether the data values entered for each asset are current, correct or even valid.
* Be able to create additional versions of an asset via internal processing (some image databases may be able to create a different sized “preview” image, but it’s best not to assume your DAM can create a web playable mpeg video file from a High resolution MOV without testing).
* Properly understand and deal with ICC Color Profiles or color space conversions.
* Write back metadata values edited inside the DAM to the associated or original file so that those values remain with the file when distributed.
* Verify that the original file has not been modified or tampered with (for example, by validating the file using its checksum).

Some DAM software (or services) may have the provision to limit what each user can do. These are generally referred to as ”permissions” and it’s up to those managing the system to set these by individual or class of user. For example, will the DAM be open to the public, or does each user need a username and password to access the database? Based on a username, is it possible to limit what types or sizes of files a user can copy from the database? Or can you limit who can modify the data fields associated with any given asset?

If your organization hasn’t started implementing a DAM system, don’t be in a rush. In fact, you could be time and money ahead by slowing down and doing your homework first. According to David Diamond, a marketing manager who has worked for several DAM vendors, “…the average sales cycle for DAM software is six months to two years—and that’s just for the software alone! Doing DAM right takes time, and it’s time you can’t afford to skip.”

So before you even begin thinking about adding database records to a DAM, it is probably best to back up and investigate some other aspects that are often overlooked; Take the time to outline your goals; document your collection management policies; spell out how files should be named (and how to be sure that names are unique); determine which file types to store; and much, much more.

Few individuals or organizations understand the real costs of not having a DAM system in place. Principally this is because few organizations take much time to assess their current situation before implementing a DAM. Here are a few questions to think about to get you started:

1. What would it cost (in staff hours) to recreate files that were lost or accidentally deleted?
2. Has anyone calculated the staff hours to create presentations that were given previously – but can’t now be located?
3. Has anyone tracked down the number of times an asset was purchased (licensed) again because Department X didn’t know that Department Y had already purchased a royalty free license for the same image?


posted by Laurel Calsoni at 8:24 pm  

Friday, June 22, 2012

DAM Survival Guide

Learn to design and maintain the perfect digital asset management initiative
– eBook by David Diamond

The Digital Asset Management Survival Guide eBook contains approximately 56,000 words (~250 pages) that are written in a friendly, easy-to-follow style you’ll be able to read in no time. The author’s perspective and experience comes from working in the field of DAM for more than 12 years, during which time he has written educational materials and white papers, hosted webinars and conducting live training sessions.



posted by Laurel Calsoni at 6:54 pm  
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