Last week, CMSWire published an article by John Horodyski of consultants, Optimity Advisors: Metadata Maturity Helps You Maintain Business Relevance. This is one of the best articles I’ve read this year in relation to metadata and content management (with particular reference to DAM). John describes five metadata maturity levels that organisations need to progress through, which I have paraphrased below:
- Ad hoc – introduction to the uses of metadata and how to apply them to content and workflows.
- Organise – basic understanding of technologies like CMS and document repositories.
- Measure – experience with implementation of systems such as DAM, WCMS and core functions like ingestion, transformation, distribution etc.
- Analyse — managing asset repositories with a particular understanding of how to apply them to business operational requirements (including educating others).
- Optimise – understanding and forecasting enterprise needs and predicting how repositories will be used and need to adapt in the future.
John describes nine aspects for measuring progress, such as files/folders, access permissions, integration etc. Many of these read like core functionality of modern DAM systems – which should give a clue as to why this article is highly relevant. If you are a DAM user, this is a pretty good framework for understanding what you should be doing. It’s about real-world practical issues that you will encounter in relation to metadata and DAM implementations. This is why you invested into DAM in the first place, not the faux-WCM ‘web design’ concerns that many vendors and consultants seem currently obsessed with, nor other irrelevant details like whether you can download photos of your firm’s CEO from your iPhone. As well as John’s article, there is this item by Faith Robinson about metadata models which should be consulted also. Note the title which says it all: It’s always about the metadata.
For anyone still having trouble getting to grips with this, metadata should be at the start, middle and end of your Digital Asset Management strategy, it’s the architectural basis for everything else you do (whether you look at that from an information or systems perspective). I talk to far too many vendors and consultants who think this is a done deal these days – it is not. If your metadata strategy is well thought through and you have derived a robust model, then nearly every other issue is fixable – even if that means dropping one provider and switching to another.
This point needs to be re-iterated as not enough people seem to get it yet: the structural aspects of your metadata schema (aka ‘design’) are what provides the basis for you to innovate and apply your DAM to a multitude of new problems (and the best DAM systems fully support all your ambitions in that regard). The details of how you do that (and represent it to users) are obviously important, but they are a tier below in terms of their impact and subsequent implications. I have used the comparison with concrete and steel vs plastic and wood before, topics like metadata come into the former category and that’s why they are critical for DAM innovation to beyond its current laboured state.
There is a webinar on Tuesday 28th April at 12pm ET which is sponsored by Henry Stewart and is being moderated by David Lipsey: DAM Innovation – Paused or Fast Forward? I am not sure if this one I am going to be able to tune into yet due to other commitments at the same time, but if you are and there is an opportunity to raise some of these points with the panel of speakers, I would suggest that you take advantage of it. Topics like ‘customer experience’ etc have a strategic relevance, but DAM is an operational concern about the delivery of those higher objectives and anyone who wants you to pay them money in exchange for their expertise (or products they offer) should be able to explain how they will apply this in a practical fashion. Metadata should be more than an element of what they offer, it should underpin their entire understanding of our subject.
- Metadata Automation Webinar Recording From New Jersey DAM Meetup Group
- Can Enterprise Taxonomy Management Survive Analyst Reticence - And Does Anyone Else Care Anyway?
- The Role Of Taxonomy Governance In DAM Interoperability Initiatives
- Google's Visual Case Study Of The Perils And Politics Of Automated Metadata
- The Perils And Politics Of Automated Metadata Generation