Guru Talk: Melissa Polidori – Digital Asset Management Professional
Working in both small agencies and large corporations, Polidori knows how to make it work with any digital asset management system.
What companies/organizations have you worked for as a DAM professional? What was your role at each?
The journey started in 96’ when I accepted the role of lead archivist for one of Canada’s national nightly news programs. What a great ride it was for our relatively small international news crew to go from analog to digital over the decade I was a part of that dedicated team.
The archive was comprised of an inelegant DOS-like PC program that directed the researcher or archivist to a tape location in a large climate controlled, steel reinforced tape vault. Although the software was painful to look at, the story and footage descriptions offered tremendous detail. This detail acted as a type of metadata in advance of viewing the footage.
In addition there were live international footage feeds that I could patch into a Mac to record a stream of anything that I felt matched the writers intent for the upcoming new cast. Also, I licensed stills from AP, CP (Canadian Press), independent photojournalists as well as working in Photoshop and other Adobe programs to acquire and make ready whatever visual elements were needed for the graphics team to create for the show.
Each show was archived, tagged and ready for access the next day. It was a highly creative, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, ‘we need it now’ exciting environment, filled with a compassionate interesting diverse group of people whom I’ll know as friends forever. If you have seen an episode of HBO’s The Newsroom, yes it was exactly like that. It was not DAM in the more formal current sense; however, it was my entry to the DAM arena.
Next up, in 2007 I was very fortunate to be the Digital Asset Manager for Scholastic Canada, rolling out their new DAM process to the Canadian marketing and creative arm of Scholastic.ca, as directed by the US parent company ‘Scholastic.com’. It was so exciting! I think they choose me because I assured them I could do it (but I did not really know what that meant—yet.)
Essentially, I made sure that everyone from Sales to Creative, Marketing, Production, including external international print vendors, were all in good shape with their use and understanding of (North Plains) Telescope, its protocols for file ingestion, access, searching, retrieving etcetera. In that setting—with the backbone of ISBN being a unique signifier, or single container for all files associated with a book and e-book—I found Telescope to be extremely effective. Scholastic US information services team was and is the paramount driving force to this DAM Initiative.
In 2013, I became the Digital Asset Manager for small digital agency that required a business analysis for a new DAM and workflow. I presenting a few DAM vendor options across the business streams for an upcoming digital asset repository before proposing a DAM solution in which space was provided by their parent company, Onx.com.
Layered onto that, I designed the project naming convention and project structure with some Atlassian additions that made it more WIP engaged for collaboration and project follow-through with PM, Creative and Development teams. I provided training and general implementation for various teams. This solution is a very customized and flexible workflow for ongoing work and re-use of space.
After interviewing many terrific DAM vendors for use by this agency, I would have preferred to implement one of them, but it is the nature of small business to work with their existing resources and budget.
Experiencing all angles of this challenge was part of its solution. I am so lucky to have been inside the big engines like television, as well as small operations, as this gives me a better comprehension of market needs in DAM.
How do you describe digital asset management to others?
I see DAM as a giant garage that’s got a space, a drawer, a hook for every tool including your garden gnome. It is a location where all file types can fit and many different users can enjoy the benefits of DAM resources. From this perspective, DAM is as integral to a business function as office furniture. However, if it is not supported as part of business infrastructure or capital expenditure, then it is difficult for people to justify allocating support and funding to something almost transparent yet crucial for growth.
How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?
Research, reading, testing and making analogies in my mind to be able to translate the technical details of DAM to another person or team has helped me learn and understand DAM. I have read a lot of David Diamond’s articles, which are first-class resources for anyone hoping to dive into DAM.
I’ve also reached out to members of the DAM community and learned so much about the variety of applications and implementations for the software and the industries who use it. The DAM community can be a highly supportive, joyful, sharing group. We need a DAM meet-up in Toronto, Canada in the future for more people to connect (hint) and for DAM business to grow.
What’s the most important thing for someone new to DAM to understand about DAM?
Good question, one of the most important things for anyone new to DAM would be to understand that in five years, it will all have changed quite a bit. Be really flexible and realize that you cannot know everything about the current state of affairs in DAM or market trends, and that’s why the learning, reading, and collaborating never ends. Stay open to change.
And, if you happen to be a tiny bit OCD, it’s an asset to this type of detailed job.
If you weren’t doing DAM as a career, what would you be doing?
Teaching. I started out teaching after college. I later went to University and back into teaching, which I adore. Collaboration and sharing ideas makes the people aspect of DAM so enjoyable for me.
What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?
Dare I say it, my next DAM job. Feel free to let me know your thoughts. :)
What is your vision for DAM? What will it look like in 5 years?
On the point of growth for DAM, of all the industries I’ve worked in—TV, print & Web—Web has the most voracious appetite for assets, spanning the range between illustration, audio, video, animation and photography. Now that everything is essentially Web and interactive, I believe that DAM will be in the spotlight as a necessity for productivity. In this way a WIP function will, I think it will be integrated into every DAM solution to give broader scope of the essential usefulness to users and those who fund the effort.
What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?
I feel as though each DAM adventure has been successful and my most recent role at the digital agency—although it was super challenging—I am very proud that I created something useful for a wide variety of team members who were not previously connected are now unified by a DAM workflow for project resolution.
I believe the purpose of DAM is to bring order to chaos, to ease our daily work and to record brand development history. If I can be a part of that DAM process, that is successful work to me. As my brother used to say when he would walk into my apartment, “Welcome to the Hobbit.” You see, I have a place for everything; everything is in the right spot and is well stocked. DAM is a natural fit for me.
In addition, DAM is in its own category. As a service and product, it straddles between IT and whom it serves; therefore, if you can make a good connection with IT, the rest of the DAM delivery will be a success. Cement your success with IT on your side.
What more would you like to learn about DAM?
I am always interested in discovering what developments are changing the face of DAM. I assume that a player in DAM technology is market demand and I hope that a broader market base can realize the potential of DAM in their business, as there are so many vendors with unique applications to provide.
This interview originally appeared on DAM Guru on Mon, 12 Jan 2015. For more DAM News interviews, see the interviews index page.Share this Article: