Travis McElroy

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Travis has a great perspective on digital asset management: always think about the long-term, big picture use case for your DAM and success will follow.

What companies/organizations have you worked for as a DAM professional? What was your role at each?

I work for Ivie and Associates (@IvieInc) under the title Digital Asset Management Specialist. Ivie employs 550+ associates in 40 offices worldwide providing marketing and advertising services to some of the largest retailers in the United States and Asia. The Image Management department provides marketing images for advertising campaigns, catalogs, circulars signage and web to each of our client sites where our creative and production teams produce collateral. Ivie has experienced tremendous growth; as a result we’ve grown our DAM.

Over the past two years, we reviewed several DAM products to find the best solution for our unique business model. We moved from a product hosted at our corporate office to a ­cloud-based product. My role in the migration was to help with the creation of category structures, metadata schema and group management. Now that our DAM integration is in full swing, I provide access, support and training to our production teams and our clients.

When I’m not working on support, I help our image management team to develop workflows, write user guides and work with the developer to create customizations for our DAM. This is one of my favorite parts of the job. I feel successful when I am able to produce a solution after identifying an issue with user experience.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

In our environment, the primary function of our team is to ensure that users have access to assets that are approved for their use.

For example, if a group on the West Coast shoots a product or purchases a stock image, our team makes sure that the image meets our minimum requirements, that the license is attached to the asset, and that it is distributed to all of the other teams for that client nationally. For seasonal or time sensitive assets, the process would include setting a revised expiration. In addition, we work with our creative teams to maintain adherence to logo and brand guidelines by keeping the most current logos as our published asset.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

I learned DAM on the job. Working in our photography department, I took on the role of populating our previous iteration of DAM. Joining a group on LinkedIn or following related activity on Twitter are great resources to keep up with the latest practices and advancements in the field. Working with a DAM developer doesn’t hurt either. Chances are they have solved issues that you may be facing. They can help you navigate around questionable practices and give you insight in the best way to handle most aspects of your DAM. If you have a clear definition of your business rules, the developer should be able to identify how those rules can be applied within your DAM.

What’s the most important thing for someone new to DAM to understand about DAM?

Think long term. It can be tricky to identify how users will interact with the DAM; but the more questions you ask up front, the more future-proof your DAM will be. Often a simple question in the development phase will save significant time and energy down the road.

If you are considering a change or plan on making a decision that has a global effect on the DAM, take a day or a few to think about it. Run it by other teams who interact with the DAM in different ways. It can save you a lot of grief down the road.

If you weren’t doing DAM as a career, what would you be doing?

I have a background in Print and Graphic Design. If I hadn’t moved into DAM, I would most likely be working in some form of project management. I’ve always been interested in solving problems. I think my previous and current career put me in a position to develop creative solutions.

What is your vision for DAM? What will it look like in 5 years?

I recently read an article on the future of design describing how it will continue to become more personal. Rather than a run of 2.5 million catalogs, focus will move from the masses towards the individual. With all of the information that is captured each day about browsing and purchasing habits, DAM becomes essential in the marketing community for putting the right assets in front of the individual to influence a reaction. Whether that’s an image, a text or a video, having data tied to an asset becomes invaluable. In five years I think we’ll see continued integration with systems that automate content based on these captured metrics. APIs make it so easy to interconnect systems to the DAM that there is no reason our industry won’t continue speeding up the campaign to market timelines. Eventually advertising will be precise and instant.

What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?

My biggest success is when I train a new user and they see the value of our DAM. Every time we bring on a new user, they are impressed with the capabilities and by the work we’ve put in to develop a product that makes their lives easier. Happy users are my biggest success.

This interview originally appeared on DAM Guru on Mon, 04 May 2015. For more DAM News interviews, see the interviews index page.

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