Interestingly enough, many people today do not (yet) plan on a career in DAM, but rather a career in DAM picked them. Sometimes, they were volunteered for the position. Getting volunteered is obviously less of a choice than actually volunteering for a DAM position. This is not likely what you were originally hired to do, but something often quite different with a change in responsibilities. I was lucky enough to volunteer for a DAM position. And yes, I am paid to work on DAM within an organization. I am not the first to do so.
Why would someone be volunteered to work on DAM? Well, let us see. Someone may:
- Have thrown darts at an organizational chart and guess who was picked?
- Have been the closest person around when the question of who would do this work came up
- Have dabbled with image viewers to organize photographs on a personal, hobby or even professional level
- Have read The DAM Book which is a nice start however it does not touch on the needs of digital asset management for an entire organization (such as an enterprise, hosted or SaaS DAM) with multiple users collaborating with the same assets at the same time with version control and reporting capabilities. And that is just skimming the surface. DAM has a multitude of layers (like an onion) which are often linked and related. That is okay because they will find out soon enough.
- Know what the acronym ‘DAM’ stands for and is capable to spell it out properly. Many people have difficulty understanding or even explaining what is DAM (I will keep that question open for Another DAM blog post coming in the near future).
- Show interest in DAM over a period of time. Likely more than once.
- Be closely tied to the use of the assets (and they may not call them “assets” yet). So the person kind of made sense to ask/volunteer to work on DAM.
- Be the ‘people’ part of the equation along with ‘process’ and ‘technology.’
- Have worked with DAM before coming to this organization. Prior experience helps.
- Have tried the ‘if you build it, they will come‘ strategy. Often, it is realized that does not work (after the fact). Without people working behind the scenes with the DAM, there is often little user acceptance (people actually using it), few assets uploaded (stuff to find, preview, download) and little metadata (how to find the stuff and tell you about the stuff). Obviously, a fair number of assets with metadata need to be in the DAM before you initially launch it to the users within your organization.
While the DAM vendor may be able to help an organization to a degree, those assets will not automagically get uploaded into a DAM with metadata unless they are supplied by someone. Volunteers? Anyone?
Luckily, whether you volunteered to work on DAM or were volunteered, you are part of the much needed information management group which has a growing group of skilled people. As more DAM solutions are implemented, more positions are opening up. There is a supply and demand equation which favors the employee, even in this economy.
The real issue is once you are there, you have an uphill battle:
- You will likely need to prove yourself and your recommendations regularly to the stakeholders with results and reach milestones (progress), at least in baby steps.
- If you are not sure, do not be afraid to seek professional DAM advice (whether internally and/or externally). It is very likely someone has been in your situation before, regardless of the industry. They should be able to advise you and the organization on the best paths to take and the pitfalls to avoid. This can be in the form of consulting. DAM mentoring may be available as well on an individual basis.
- Document the advice/plan (both the paths and pitfalls in writing) and share it openly within your organization. This should not be a secret, but instead hold the decision makers accountable for what they decide on and advisors accountable for their advice. Even if someone chooses to do differently than what was advised, chances are that at some point, the sound advice given will be revisited, if documented. Give it a few weeks/months and observe.
- Don’t expect everyone to understand it at your level. For many people, this may be all new, complex and very confusing to them. You will lose their interest, patience and support if you dive into the nuances of various metadata, file versions or permission structures. Keep it at high level and simplify it unless they specifically ask to follow you down the rabbit hole. And be aware of what pill you take.