Laurel A Calsoni

Monday, February 4, 2013

5 Ways Marketing Pros Can Manage Their Digital Assets

From iMediaConnection
Posted By Matthew Gonnering
February 4, 2013


Your brand has a story, and it’s nearly impossible to tell that story without some form of digital media. As your brand, your product and service offerings, and your organization grow, so too will your library of digital assets. Images, audio, video, documents and more are all vital tools to marketers.That means that managing those assets effectively is as important a skill as any other. Here are five ways you can step up your digital asset management game and keep the focus on telling your story, no matter how big you are or what kinds of systems you’re using to store and distribute media.

Centralize your media library

Except in rare situations, there’s just too little benefit and too much risk involved to justify having your digital assets spread out across more than one location. Doing so invites redundancy and confusion, especially if there aren’t strict protocols in place that help people figure out what media is housed where. At the very best, disparate storage adds to the time it takes any one person to retrieve the assets they need for a given task.

What “centralization” requires varies from organization to organization. It usually makes the most sense to put all your stuff in some cloud storage location. Whether that’s a digital asset management solution or some consumer option like Google Drive or DropBox, centralization beats letting your assets live on multiple people’s hard drives or various in-house servers any day of the week.

Get a handle on your repurposing processes

Any given asset might end up destined for a wide variety of media. Whether it’s print, web or video, you’ll need to deliver your digital assets according to certain size, color and other specifications to ensure you’re represented correctly and consistently.

Certain systems will enable you to save one master asset and convert it into various formats as needed. Any digital asset management software worth referring to that way will perform these sorts of conversions, for instance. If you don’t have that kind of system in place, you should at least make sure that anybody in a position to use or distribute your media has a thorough understanding of the file conversion options and why they matter in different channels.

Collaborate around your library

These days, it’s hard to imagine any kind of business communication that doesn’t involve digital assets. Doesn’t it make sense, then, that you should keep much of the creative process close to the place those assets live? Having collaboration tools built into or integrated with your system of managing assets will help ensure that your users don’t have to struggle with new learning curves and that you don’t end up with conflicting versions of your assets floating around out there.

Know the numbers

Like Web traffic, ad conversions and view counts, there are numbers you should be following to better understand your digital assets and the effectiveness of your DAM system.

Having a way of tracking those numbers, therefore, is pretty important. If you know how frequently a product image is downloaded by users or staff, for instance, you might make different decisions when it comes time to shoot an updated set or photograph a new line (or when it comes time to request imagery from your suppliers).

Get people excited

You need to make sure you get your teams to buy into the use of your software, systems and protocols. Otherwise, your efforts will have been for naught.

Depending on what kind of system you’re promoting, the size of your organization and who the users are supposed to be, the methods you use to get stakeholders on board will vary. Sometimes it’s as simple as a clear, concise email. Other times, it’s a full-blown media campaign. Whatever it takes, though, is worth it. It’ll all pay off when you see your marketing operation running like a well oiled machine.

posted by Laurel Calsoni at 8:33 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  

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Why Do I Need a Digital Asset Manager?

Podcast Based on the blog post on Another DAM blog

Listen to “Why Do I Need a Digital Asset Manager?”


posted by Laurel Calsoni at 11:14 am  

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  

Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Virtual Trip: New Grateful Dead Digital Archive Launches

(I want this job!)

The Atlantic
JUN 29 2012, 4:27 PM ET 10

Now everyone can be that crazed Dead fan you once knew in college.

No band deserves an online archive more than the Grateful Dead. As much lifestyle as musical outfit, the Dead influenced millions through their concerts and songs. A few years ago, the band selected the University of California Santa Cruz as the host for its history, and now the first fruits of that decision are available for consumption. The Grateful Dead Online Archive is now live.

The expansive archive has a map of hundreds and hundreds of shows, thousands of photographs and show posters, and — in keeping with the band’s community orientation — tons of fan art.
Even as a very weak Dead fan, this is an impressive monument to one of the banner carriers of 20th century counterculture.

As a sidenote, I’m left wondering what it’s like to be a kid developing her music taste these days. I had a friend in high school who compulsively traded Dead show tapes with people across the country in the early days of the Internet. He loved scoring that ultrarare tape almost no one had ever heard. Now, if you were that same kid, you have the whole culture of the Dead just waiting for you on this one website. It’s amazing, but I wonder if it takes something out of fandom if it’s a little too easy to access. You want to have to work for the knowledge that the best Dead show ever was on May 8, 1977 at Barton Hall on Cornell’s campus.

If you want the whole story on the Grateful Dead archive, check out Joshua Green’s 2010 Atlantic feature on the Santa Cruz project.
posted by Laurel Calsoni at 12:08 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  

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Role of Digital Librarians in Digital Asset Management

Thursday, 10th May 2012
By Deb Hunt
posted on Fumsi

When clients contact Information Edge to help them get a handle on their organisational assets, they are usually at a point of feeling crushed under an avalanche of information. Their IT staff are overwhelmed and realise they cannot provide the information organisation needed.

Sadly, I do not tell most of my clients up front that I have a Masters in Library Science degree as I find that limits their perception of what I bring to the table and how Information Edge can empower them to re-find and reuse their content. Despite the fact that my skill set proves highly valuable in digital asset management projects, I usually wait until I’m well into a project before I tell them. They are often shocked to learn this.

Digital librarians bring distinct skills to DAM projects:

• An understanding of audiences: who they are, what they look for and how.
• Expertise in building metadata schemas and taxonomies.
• Recognising the business value that finding information brings to an organisation.
• Experience creating IP policies that address copyright issues.
• Experience and expertise organising assets of all kinds and knowing that you get out of a record what you put into it.
• Knowing how to organise information and assets for findability.
• Generally they are viewed as neutral, working for the good of the entire organisation.
• Having a big picture view
• Can contribute to workflow strategies
• Able to prioritise what needs to be indexed first and why.
• Knowing to start small and let the success of a DAM project speak for itself.

When I started doing DAM, IT folks doubted my expertise and the value I brought to projects. Now, they welcome me with open arms, knowing I bring to the table skills and expertise they may not have. As a team, we provide the solutions our clients need.

Digital librarians are working hard to reshape the librarian stereotype with the deep expertise and value they bring to DAM and other projects. They make sure one’s DAM house is in order.

posted by Laurel Calsoni at 7:19 pm  

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What Is Digital Asset Management?

The Alphabet Soup of Digital Content Management
January 20, 2012
-from WAVE Blog,

We recently spoke at the University of Wisconsin-Madison E-Business Consortium.
What a great group of engaged attendees all wrestling with content management issues.

What was really striking about the discussion of content management is how much the acronyms just add to the confusion about choosing some type of software to manage digital content.  Companies all had different acronyms to reference the different repositories they were using to manage their artwork, files, pricing, marketing collateral, etc.

What one company called Content Management, another called Web Asset Management.  No one could agree what constituted an Enterprise system and before the end of the day it sounded like a jumble of letters, none of which helped people understand the functionality they had or needed.

I had great empathy for the customers who are looking for some way to manage, collaborate, edit and distribute their content and are trying to determine what is the best fit for the problem.  We get calls from customers saying, “We need to look at a DAM system.”  Our first follow up is, “Tell us about what you’re trying to accomplish” because sometimes that functionality bleeds over into PIM (Product Information Management – managing product and pricing information) or Web publishing, or includes functionality that some might consider under DAM, or not.

What we recommended is instead of trying to pick the alphabet solution that describes the need, that companies would be better off trying to identify the pain points they are trying to address as well as thinking through the entire work flow.

  • What are you trying to manage and why?
  • What are you using it for?
  • Who else needs to have that information and how do you want to get it to them?
  • Who decides what the FINAL source is and how is that controlled?

Instead of starting with a search for a product, it’s time to take a step back.  Putting a software solution on top of an inefficient workflow just makes that inefficiency faster.  Software alone won’t solve the issue without understanding how it fits in the larger needs of the users and the company.  Start with evaluating the work processes, from start to finish.  Step outside of the “we’ve just always done it that way.”  Ask why?  Is there a better way to do it?  Are there steps that are redundant? Step outside the legacy systems that may already be in place.  If those were not there, how would you do it? Once you can identify the work that needs to get done, and the resources you will need to do it, then you can look at solutions to help that process along.  Then you can focus on the solutions, regardless of the acronym du jour for those products.


posted by Laurel Calsoni at 6:13 pm  
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