I recently conducted a DAM Panel at my place of work and participated in another panel the same day for the DAM NY Meetup Group. I can’t imagine a better way to present and discuss a topic. The audience does not have to suffer through a painful PowerPoint deck and I think the audience takes so much more away from the experience.
Panels are such a great way to introduce a topic as well as allowing experts to do what they do best, which is talk freely about their expertise. Therefore, I thought some of you might be interested in reading my moderator transcript and to possibly help inspire you to create a your own panel event.
The questions I proposed were general as a means to stir conversation and to introduce the practice of DAM.
The participants included: Henrik de Gyor, Chad Beer and Tony Gill. I would like to think them again virtually for being such a great panel and especially to Tony Gill who filled-in a vacancy about 2-hours before my panel started. You’re a star! My only regret from the panel is that I did not record the responses, sorry readers!
The first set of questions are going to address What DAM is, what it isn’t, why you need it and the types of professionals that play a role in DAM.
- DAM is about helping users to find meaningful and relevant information in amongst the noise.
Q. How do you introduce the topic of Digital Asset Management to those who are hearing about it for the first time?
- One of the recurring conversations I have with those new to DAM scape is explaining the difference between business process of DAM and the technology of DAM. As there is so much focus on purchasing technology that often times, process gets lots in the shuffle. Paul Nicholson, VP of Print and broadcast production at Showtime said “People think that buying a tool will do it for them, but it wont. You have to have sound processes to start with”.
Q. How do you explain the difference between digital asset management as a practice and the technology that goes with DAM and how do you keep process in balance with technology decisions?
- One of the aspects I enjoy most about Digital Asset Management is it is extremely cross-disciplinary and it allows me to collaborate different types of professionals. Collaboration and cross-disciplinary practitioners are essential to the implementation of DAM.
Q. So who are these folks and what types of skills are important to a successful Digital Asset Management strategy?
Now that we’ve covered some of the basics let’s discuss a bit about the users role in DAM. Central to any Digital Asset Management strategy is the end-user. Usability is an important aspect of Digital Asset Management and the role that user-acceptance plays an integral part in any DAM strategy.
- A major aspect of user acceptance is training, and we have a lot of new tools at our disposal to enable us to reach users more effectively, for instance we can leveraging social media technologies like user forums, pod-casting and screen-casting.
Q. So, what are some of the ways you reach out, to educate and train users?
- Some of the other main elements are more on the system side such as interface design, findability and front-end information architecture, metadata compliance with Dublin core, flexibility and scalability.
Q. What are some of the core elements you feel are necessary to gain user acceptance with DAM?
- Another aspect of working with users is the challenge of keeping it simple! Ray Ozzie, Former (as of about three days ago) Chief Software architect at Microsoft said it best “Complexity sucks the life out of users, developers and IT and constrains the ability of an organization to progress”. It’s always amazing to me how quickly complexities can arise in the development of a digital asset management strategy.
Q. What are some of your strategies for getting down to the bare-bones needs and keeping it simple?
- Another topic that comes up often at Digital Asset Management conferences is change management. One of the great things about being a Digital Asset Manager is the possibilities you bring to the table have the potential to rewrite and shape how an organization exchanges knowledge. On the other side of that is that there is safety in the sameness as it doesn’t require change, but it also doesn’t manifest anything very remarkable. Implementing DAM or any technology for that matter, can be good kind of disruption, as it challenges relationships and forces new thought patterns. So I like to think of DAM as a high impact sport as change plays such a central role.
Q. How do you facilitate and manage change in organizations, especially changes that are very personal to users such as workflow.
Also greatly effecting end-users is the pace of changing technologies, but it also plays a role in shaping the DAM profession..
DAM keeps me on my toes as the knowledge management industry overall is always dynamically evolving and changing. The ability to be Forward-thinking is a requirement and because of this we are often out there on the “bleeding-edge” and anytime you’re that far out there the reality of the “Oops” isn’t far behind. To be successful in this field you have to be comfortable with with pushing the envelope and making mistakes as long as you learn from them.
- The tolerance for honest failure is a rule of the trade that Silicon Valley and shall I say our own Silicon Alley knows well. Examining failure and its link to creativity and technological successes is gaining a lot of attention. National Geographic right now has a short Documentary featuring Honda called “Failure: The Secret to Success” and just yesterday the San Francisco Chronicle covered FailCon 2010 which trains executives to embrace failure. The byline caught my attention because it stated if you want to be successful “you should study failure – because ‘oops’ is the mantra of champions”. In DAM knowing what not to do is just as important as knowing what to do.
Q. How does learning from past failures play a role in your approach to DAM?
- Another part of working in this large, quickly moving, landscape of knowledge management is that it requires the professional to have an insatiable appetite for learning. It’s one of those just when you think you’ve caught up something new comes along and changes your mind. For example for some time I was on the fence with RAW vs. DNG file formats then along came the DP Best Flow report by the Library of Congress and American Society of Media Photographers, they made a persuasive argument with supporting DNG as a master negative file vs. the very proprietary RAW. Finally, I could get off the fence. However, as digital asset managers we often find ourselves on these fences.
Q. How do you keep pace with the world of DAM?
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Metadata and Taxonomies are my thing. I spend an awful lot of time drinking coffee and having existential dilemmas on how to categorize what the hell I do for a living.