Another DAM Blog

Blog about Digital Asset Management

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What specific skills should Digital Asset Management professionals have today?

A reader recently asked what specific skills should Digital Asset Management professionals have in order to be competitive in the job market today.

Previously, we have explored:

We can explore the skills the job market is commonly asking for now as well as other skills to consider (even if not yet realizing it).

Learn the Basics

I would encourage everyone to continue growing your knowledge and skills of how to work smarter with:

  • Spreadsheets because they are a necessary evil. Live it, learn it and love it once you understand how to make data format and flow properly through the fine art of filtering, sorting, pivot tables, vlookups and using other formulas rather than creating basic, monolithic data entry tables with little purpose and lacking smart automation.  Character validation for metadata is also possible here.
  • Word processing because you can do more than write letters and resumes with it. Explore the awesome world of macros to empower you and text.
  • Presentation software because you may need to give a few presentations and sometimes even make them for others. If you want your points understood by anyone, think more visual and less bullets. Since presenting is a well-known fear which some considered worse than death, I recommend facing your fear (presentations, not death). Learn from the masters and practice presenting regularly.
  • Collaborative software tools because it allows people to share information as group, discuss it and make decisions together. You might not be working in proximity with some people now or in the near future (such as people working remotely or even globally), but that does not mean you can not share ideas, discuss topics and decide as a group by referring to other people for their experiences, ideas, insights and perspectives.

Social skills

Meet with real people (not just friends, co-workers and family). Not just online. Not just at parties or because there are drinks available. When you meet someone new who you want/need to continue the conversation with, connect with them online professionally and follow up on the conversation. This is called networking.  Real relationships are a give and take (not just one way). Remove your blinders regularly and meet other people around you who may have different interests and perspectives. You may be surprised what you can continually learn by meeting other people. Relevant communication is key.

Project Management

Whichever project management methodology you happen to study (Agile, PRINCE2, Waterfall), these are invaluable business skills to keep projects:

  • on time
  • on budget
  • within specifications/scope

Learn the principles and key skills such as:

  • Business analysis techniques
  • Work breakdown structures
  • Program sequencing techniques
  • Risk management methods

Coding Languages

A working knowledge of the following coding languages can be very helpful:

You can grow your skills further by learning the full LAMP stack.

Learn to create regularly

Everyone should practice an art of creating something regularly.  It does not have to be fine art, but learn to:

  • write
  • take photographs
  • record sound
  • shoot video
  • create something on your own (or as a group) that can be shared
  • digitize it if it is a physical creation

Learn to edit

Learn to edit so you can do something constructive with what you create.  Learn to see how you can improve things by sharing it with others who will give you constructive feedback.  Learn what can be done about issues before they are created (and sometimes how to fix them afterward). Improve your skills as you learn to edit various media which you may be managing at some point as DAM professional. You will literally see and hear the results.

  • Text editing is a very useful skill. Sometimes it is easier to edit someone else’s text than your own.
  • Photo editing is process like any other. You can start with editing and managing your family/friend/sports/pet photography as it grows over time. The key is to learn how to manage your photography for the long term (think years) beyond simply the week the images were captured. This can be the beginning of learning the process of digital asset management using photography assets (which have value to you) along with related metadata (so you can search for them easily) and understanding the efforts involved.
  • Audio editing is as complex as you want to make it and  is often layered. This skill also helps to fine tune your ears. You can read all about how I create a weekly audio podcast which accompanies this blog called Another DAM podcast
  • Video editing is another set of skills to learn how to piece multiple types of components together with some continuity in order to tell a story.

Learn how to use metadata

Once you have created and edited digital files over time, you will want to search for these. Not just visually search because that does not scale over time. This often requires metadata.

  • Learn what metadata to apply (take a look at some of the variety of metadata standards available)
  • How to apply metadata (embedded vs. associated)
  • Why apply metadata (to search and find assets based on common fields and values applied)

Rights Management

When it comes to managing whether an organization has the licenses and permissions necessary to legally use, reuse and re-purpose any digital asset acquired from external parties, this requires a dive into the field of rights management. While this is often a forgotten liability for many organizations, external vendors are pursuing copyright violations more than ever to recover their lost revenue through image recognition technology among other technologies. Having the skills to understand the rights, communicate the media needs, license media properly for usage and limit liability is a plus for any organization.

Stress management

Stress does not automagically go away by itself. Learn to deal with stress in a health way. Do not attempt to work all 168 hours per week. The work will still be there if you go home. Avoid procrastination, but take short breaks as needed. Keep in mind that worrying about something does not resolve anything. Do something about it. Focus your energy on either communicating the specific issues with recommended solutions or resolving the issues after weighing the possible solutions.

Time Management

Learn to manage your time and your tasks wisely by prioritizing. Learn how to prioritize anything. Time management can be applied to all aspects of your work and life, especially if you thrive on accomplishment. Keep in mind that tasks are not successfully completed without the necessary time to accomplish them.

What specific skills should Digital Asset Management professionals have today?

Let us know when you are ready for consulting or assistance in finding Digital Asset Management professionals for your business.

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Were you volunteered to work on DAM?

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.

Were you volunteered for DAM?