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Solving The DAM Implementation Doughnut Problem

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.

In DAM now, you get two over-represented interest groups: the technologists who are keen to talk about systems-related issues like features, storage etc and the strategists that prefer to skip to the end and consider what the business implications are – almost as though the problem will solve itself.  This is apparent on the occasions when I am invited to advise people about some facet of their DAM provision.  For early planning-related assignments, there is usually a management-heavy stakeholder team most of which it usually transpires won’t actually be using the DAM much themselves.  This isn’t always the case, but it crops up often enough for a pattern of behaviour to emerge across organisations of all kinds.  Once the system is rolled out, this group cease to be highly active and a much smaller selection of personnel remain who have the more significant task of getting assets into the system, encouraging adoption, dealing with vendor support, solving findability problems, managing workflow etc – all the ‘real work’ of using the DAM, in other words.

There is what I can only describe as a ‘doughnut’ effect developing in DAM with an excessive amount of attention given to the technology or strategy extremities and a schism opening up in the middle where most of the long-term issues are to be found.  This is symptomatic of problem caused by DAM being regarded as ‘a thing’ that you can just purchase and then move on to other more pressing concerns, rather than an on-going process that requires continuous refinement and review.  I am aware that one of the techniques some people use to encourage DAM adoption when a new system is rolled out is to hold internal introduction sessions involving the distribution of baked goods to attendees to try persuade their colleagues to turn up, so from that respect, you might wish to refer to this as the ‘post-doughnut problem’!

I do have to acknowledge that many of the senior stakeholders alluded to have a lot of other business/technology issues that require their consideration and it isn’t practical to expect them to focus exclusively on DAM.  To counter that point, however, since digital assets are now becoming an integral element of modern business operations, this adds further weight to the argument that dedicated DAM departments are needed, staffed by people whose job is entirely about solving Digital Asset Management issues.  If the volume and distribution of digital assets is going to grow exponentially (and who would argue against that?) then the depth and scope of the DAM task is becoming too large and important for it to be something that only gets a fraction of the attention of the people who will make critical long-term decisions about it.

One final point worth making in respect of this topic relates to the article Deb Fanslow wrote for DAM News last month: Who Needs a DAM Librarian? Part I: Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are.  In terms of personnel who are adequately qualified to do the work and (perhaps more importantly) want to, those with library and information science skills are likely to be the best source of qualified expertise.  Whether they like it or not, most organisations are now custodians of burgeoning repositories of rich media.  While there is a lot of research cash being thrown at automating the management of all this, as was discussed last week, it both won’t be practical to leave it all to the computers for a quite a long time to come and those that have developed and tested a strategy using more manual methods will be far better placed to leverage innovations in this field anyway.  To do that, you need people who are willing and able to make DAM their exclusive professional specialist subject so they can build up the required level of understanding, expertise and knowledge to do the job effectively over an indefinite period of time.


WebDAM Digital Asset Management ROI Whitepaper

November 13, 2014 Vendors

Cloud DAM Vendor, WebDAM have recently sent us a copy of a paper they have written about how to measure DAM ROI.  I must admit, I normally fear getting issued with these documents and asked for an opinion on them, perhaps only slightly less than that other tool of Satan, the DAM ROI Infographic.  In this rare […]

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Consolidated DAM Solutions – Implement Bigger Systems Or Use A Service-Oriented Strategy?

November 11, 2014 Opinion

Today, I have published a feature article for DAM News: Devising Strategies For Consolidating DAM Solutions Using A Service Oriented Model.  The subject is concerned with the recent interest in consolidating DAM solutions which seems to be a popular one with DAM users who have been through previous implementation exercises (and is rapidly becoming the majority now).  I have […]

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DAM RFP: Brand USA Digital Asset Management Solution

October 30, 2014 Vendors

Over on DAM Projects we have posted details of an RFP for a DAM Solution sent to us by Brand USA who promote travel and tourism to the United States.  The project post contains a link to a PDF with all the details.  Any questions must be asked before 3rd November and the deadline is 13th November, so any vendors […]

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Legacy Metadata – The Next Big DAM Problem?

October 29, 2014 Opinion

Like a lot of people I know in the Digital Asset Management trade currently, my firm has been deluged with client work for a sustained period.  Several times in recent weeks, I’ve been asked why I think that is.  Some vendors advance the theory that it’s because their solutions have become more sophisticated and demand has increased as […]

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New Feature Article – Who Needs a DAM Librarian?

October 10, 2014 DAM For Librarians

Deborah Fanslow has contributed the first part in a series of DAM News feature articles in response to David Diamond’s piece for CMSWire: Library Science, Not Library Silence: “After reading David’s article, I was inspired to do a little informal research. I was curious…when did the topic of librarians enter the DAM conversation? Have any vendors other than […]

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IntelligenceBank Add UI Customisation Features

October 9, 2014 Vendors

Australian DAM vendor, IntelligenceBank , have  added some UI customisation features to their DAM solution.  Mainly this is branding related updates that let users add logos and background images: “IntelligenceBank Marketing continues to innovate in the areas of user-centric branding. Recently IntelligenceBank launched the new Background Image feature, to accompany the following brand customization features for its Digital […]

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Where Next For Differentiation In The DAM Software Market?

October 3, 2014 Opinion

In the previous article today, we covered Widen’s release of their SmartImage ‘DAM Lite’ system and yesterday, the update to Portfolio from Extensis.  I would not want to do a direct comparison between SmartImage and Portfolio since I’m just basing this on some press and web pages, but an impression you might gain from just looking at […]

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Widen Update SmartImage To 4.0

October 3, 2014 Vendors

Widen have updated their SmartImage ‘DAM Lite’ SaaS product to a new version 4.0.  The new features include: Public and custom portals – links to collections of assets Batch editing of assets Quick search using file type and keyword filters. Performance enhancements Increased storage capacity subscription options There is also an introductory quote explaining what SmartImage is from […]

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Extensis Upgrade Portfolio DAM

October 2, 2014 Vendors

Extensis announced an upgraded edition of their Portfolio DAM system today.  The highlights are: Updated User Interface Increased in capacity to 10m assets Live ‘as you type’ searches for assets, or ‘Guided Search’ as Extensis call it Faster search results (i.e. more efficient indexing) Faster metadata extraction for generating automated cataloguing data Addition of required […]

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