A number of people talk about metadata. Some actually practice what they preach. When it comes to resources needed to apply/associate/embed metadata to digital assets (audio, video, text, graphics, photos) in a consistent manner, too many fall short.
We consistently hear about issues with budgets and headcount, while what is really lacking is a clear business case with a total cost of ownership per year. This must include continual executive support (year over year) to operate a successful and sustainable Digital Asset Management (DAM) solution with the necessary people, processes, technology, and information (metadata).
Implementing a DAM solution and making it operational just gets you to the starting line. Yes, that’s right, that just gets you started. Now you can begin to manage your digital assets properly. Companies are only accumulating more digital assets at an alarming rate considering how much is born-digital nowadays. That means this is a continual DAM journey and there is no finish line (unless your company disappears).
Many companies have figured out how to store files, which is getting easier today, however, storing digital assets is not the same as managing digital assets. Part of managing these digital assets is the need for metadata which enables finite search (unless you prefer to click, scroll, not find, repeat). Part of that necessary metadata are keywords to find and potentially help monetize these digital assets.
Adding metadata to digital assets is an investment that makes the digital assets searchable, findable, reusable and potentially repurposable. In this respect, a Digital Asset Management solution is only as good as its metadata.
Because adding content-specific metadata can be such a significant investment, companies often struggle with certain choices:
Contractor or staff?
Keep in mind most companies are only accumulating more digital assets. If you work for a company that is no longer accumulating digital assets, you are either not paying attention or the company might not exist much longer. Who is going to do this work?
Keep in mind the level of communication, collaboration, institutional knowledge, and security needed for your digital assets to be accessible, searchable, manageable and deliverable promptly. Also, note your company culture as well as other cultural differences.
With the growing popularity of artificial intelligence (AI), we are often asked, “can a computer create this metadata for our business?”
Because we get this question about human-generated and/or machine-generated metadata quite often, we decided to look at all of the companies that offer keywording services, image recognition and/or video recognition as possible ways of outsource metadata creation. A few months ago, this list started with over 100 companies. While looking into image and video recognition companies, we noticed about one-third of these companies were acquired by large companies (some start with the letter A, F, G, I, M or V…among others) over a period of a few months. Then, there were less than 60 companies to be found. Apparently, we are not the only ones that find this interesting.
Over the past few weeks, we decided to reach out to all these existing companies globally. If they had an email address and an online presence, they likely received our request. Since we are vendor-neutral, we do not partner with nor prefer any company. Some chose to ignore our request. Some very politely declined. A few were “too busy.” Most companies were given a month to schedule a 30-minute call. Some could not make that happen.
A few hundred emails later, we were able to interview people who lead their companies from across the world in keywording services, image recognition and/or video recognition.
To further efforts in the remaining vendor-neutral, all the interviews recorded to date are being released in one day (we learned this from another content provider who releases an entirely original series in one day). Every interview was conducted independently of each other. No one interviewed was told who else was interviewed. While most of the questions were the same, most of the answers were quite different. Most of these interviews are more practical than technical, and some go more depth. After the interviews, the audio was edited, reviewed and transcribed. All of these audio interviews are now free to listen, share and enrich your knowledge at Tagging.tech. You can find the transcriptions at http://keywordingnow.com
http://tagging.tech is focused on A) keywording services, B) image recognition, C) video recognition and where these intersect. The intended audiences are all who are curious, anyone who is unaware of these services, those with preconceived notions about this, anyone interested in looking and/or companies who presently use any of these businesses.
As a vendor neutral Consultancy specializing in Digital Asset Management (DAM), we inform clients by educating them, helping them become more self-aware, finding the hidden value they did not even think about as well as answering the more obvious questions that come to mind for their business. Have questions? Let us know.
We are also looking to interview more people for this series, so if you currently use keywording services, image recognition and/or video recognition, we would like to hear from you.
The second edition “…contains 30% new and updated material, including a full new chapter on risk and change management. Incorporating quotes and material from leaders in the field, as well as sample charts, graphs, and even job descriptions that readers are encouraged to reuse and adapt for their own purposes, this book is a must-have for anyone learning about Digital Asset Management.”
If you are involved in Digital Asset Management (DAM) or you are planning to be involved in DAM, there are a number of DAM Meetup groups you could attend in-person. DAM Meetups are gatherings of people involved in DAM by profession or by interest. You can see if there is a DAM Meetup group near you: http://digital-asset-management.meetup.com/
The number of DAM Meetup groups are increasing in areas where there is a DAM community who wants DAM Meetup in their area, often near large metropolitan areas with a potentially engaged audience.
In case you do not have a DAM Meetup group near you, you have two choices:
Watch what other DAM Meetup groups do, listen to what they talk about and share this knowledge enrichment with other members of the global DAM community. Some DAM Meetup groups record their panel discussions and presentations which makes it optimal for sharing, learning and enrichment.
Start your own local DAM Meetup group and have your own DAM discussions. This post is mostly about how to do this successfully.
A number of people have inquired recently about [how to start] a new DAM Meetup group to see if there would be enough interest in their area and how to launch a DAM Meetup successfully. In the interest of openness, I decided to share my recommendations as the former NYC DAM Meetup group co-organizer. As I write this, NYC DAM Meetup is still the world’s largest DAM Meetup group and it now has new organizers who are doing a great job.
My first recommendation is don’t try to organize a new DAM Meetup group alone. Find and meet in-person with some like-minded people who are willing to:
Invest some of their time in a DAM Meetup group
Spread the word about each DAM Meetup event
Come up with ideas for content, events, presenters and venues
Organize the events from prior planning to clean up afterwards
Learn more than they already know about DAM and new stuff
Follow up with organizers, members, venues and ideas
Ideally, if there are multiple Organizers and one person can not organize a DAM Meetup one month/quarter, another organizer should be able to pick up the tasks so you can each organize a few DAM Meetups per year. Very few people have the time to do this alone. Form a small team with similar values who compliment each other and collaborate regularly.
Locations for DAM Meetups
One of the most important things to consider within your geographic area is the location of the DAM Meetups. You should likely try out a few different locations before settling on a few favorites for members based on a variety of criteria listed below.
There are actually plenty ofvenues (locations) willing to host a small group of people assembled over a topic of discussion. I would not recommend using someone’s residence, hence pick a public venue or a business venue. Many venues are not large enough to host more than 50 to 100 people though unless you pay. This is where limiting the number of people who can RSVP comes in (this is a Meetup.com feature).
NYC DAM Meetup has never directly paid for the use of a location and do not plan to.
You need to consider:
Availability of the space for attendees and presenters (require RSVPs for a head count of attendees)
Available seating (limit RSVPs to a specific number, not to exceed fire code)
Public transportation when available
Weather and seasonal conditions to your venue
Noise inside the venue (just in case you want people to be heard). Consider a the need for a microphone/speaker system if need be.
Lighting (unless you like the cave look and you only invite bats)
Visit the venue and ask about it before scheduling it. Scout it out to be sure it is right for a DAM Meetup in mind.
Some geographic areas have great public transportation and some available parking. On the other hand, some geographic areas have horrible traffic, terrible public transportation and parking is a myth.
Make the Time
Once you schedule a DAM Meetup a few weeks in advance, make the time to promote it. Get people interested by spreading the word in person, share it on social media and email interested DAM folks in the area. Some like-minded people will make the time to come by and check it out. If you organize a number of DAM Meetups and no one RSVPs, there is something wrong. Start with who knows about it aside from the organizers. Not all localities may not be ready for a DAM Meetup. If the DAM Meetup has great content, opportunities for networking and is more than what members expected, people will return when they are available. If they don’t RSVP, you can reschedule later on. Try different days of the week, different venues and different topics of discussion for the event. Also take the time to spread the word about the DAM Meetup in different ways
When to schedule a DAM Meetup is a common question. Most DAM Meetups have been successfully scheduled and announced a few weeks prior to the day of the Meetup.
Most DAM Meetups are held on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays after 6:00 PM local time to give people some time to leave work and arrive at the venue.
Avoid scheduling DAM Meetups to occur on weekends and around major holidays because DAM is too closely related to work.
Social gatherings are the best for the first DAM Meetup to meet and greet people interested in DAM.
Announcing further in advance does not help increase attendance by much at all.
Pre-announcing Meetup ideas/topics without a date nor a location can help gauge the level of interest for such a DAM Meetup to see if it is worth having based on RSVPs. The largest number of RSVPs from members should be scheduled and provided a venue. It will be clear if Meetup members is not interested in other topics based on the lack of RSVPs.
Posting an agenda for each DAM Meetup is recommended to let people know what they should expect and when to schedule a DAM Meetup within their busy schedules. Need a topic for a DAM meetup? Give it some thought. What do you or your audience want to learn? Still lacking ideas and can not come up with your own ideas? Borrow a topic from another DAM Meetup they have had in the past.
Meetup members need to RSVP to confirm if they are coming so you know how many are planning to come. The number of RSVPs (people) is often limited based on space, seating and/or fire code. The idea is to gather together, talk DAM and have some fun. It can be common to see a popular topic get so many RSVPs that a waitlist is started. No worries. Keep in mind that attendees’ schedules change last minute so RSVPs can drop off occasionally and wait listed people are automatically notified they could come. Meetup.com handles all of this seemlessly as long as members communicate whether they are coming or not. There is also a Meetup app to make it easier while on the go.
Spreading the word
Once we have a topic for a DAM Meetup, confirmed presenter(s) and confirmed a venue for the date/time of the DAM Meetup event, it is time to promote the event. Tell your audience about it. Through Meetup.com. Through your favorite social media channels. By calling and/or emailing DAM professionals and people interested in DAM in your area. When you meet with people who may be interested in DAM. You will recognize your audience based on their genuine level of interest. Organizers should know some people in your area who may be interested in a DAM Meetup before even starting a DAM Meetup. No one will judge you based on how many people will come to your first DAM Meetups. If you do not tell anyone in the DAM Community, do not expect them to come. Meetup.com is a great tool which automatically reminds people who RSVP’ed for any Meetup. Organizers just have to configure the Meetup site to announce and remind their membership about events. Word of mouth works very well, so do tell people and ask them to tell their DAM friends and colleagues.
DAM Meetup organizers are often DAM professionals (yes, we do exist). Organizers should know how to use keywords and key phrases on their Meetup.com webpage to attract more people within the general Meetup community, whether know something about DAM or not. I would question any DAM professional who can not tag an event like a DAM Meetup which they are organizing. In case you need a hint, look at the DAM Meetups that exist today. Keep in mind, we do filter out imposter groups that use DAM tags.
Ask DAM Professionals and people interested in DAM to join as member of a DAM Meetup and they will be notified as soon as a DAM Meetup is announced. When you have a waitlist the day of the DAM Meetup, ask everyone who RSVPed to be sure they can attend and change their RSVP status on Meetup.com if they can not.
If you are starting a DAM Meetup group to make money, my advice is… don’t even start a DAM Meetup.
Many people think it takes money to hold a DAM Meetup. NYC DAM Meetup has never had a budget of its own in its 5+ years of existence. That is right… no budget, zero dollars, no profit made directly from any DAM Meetup. And we purposely do not charge any member dues nor any event dues. The main reason we don’t charge is to make sure it is accessible to all who are interested in DAM and can attend in person. Whether you are a DAM professional, a student, interested in DAM or looking for a DAM job, everyone can attend. No exclusivity. No club. There are no taxes to worry about this way either. Any expenses are completely and directly managed by the sponsors. Most Meetups found on Meetup.com are free of charge to attend.
NYC DAM Meetup never made any money and that was never the goal of the DAM Meetup. Knowledge sharing with like-minded people in the field of Digital Asset Management (DAM) is still the goal. No one is paid to attend, present, moderate nor organize. All work is simply a time commitment done voluntarily by the organizers and some of the members who want to help. The nominal annual Meetup dues (paid directly to Meetup.com to start a Meetup) is paid by Sponsors and/or Organizers, not the members.
Sponsors can be great provided they do not limit what you can do nor what you can talk about during your DAM Meetup. This is one of the reasons for vendor neutrality. All sponsors we have/had were like-minded in this respect. A DAM Meetup should be a place to have complete freedom to speak openly about successes and challenges with DAM in regards to the people, process, technology and information involved. If you want to share horror stories about DAM vendors, there are very few DAM vendors willing to sponsor this for obvious reasons. So DAM vendors are rarely, if ever, sponsors. Some sponsors see this as a place for existing as well as potential customers to come through the door and start a nice dialogue. What I have seen sponsors often do is:
Provide a location large enough for the DAM Meetup with seating for all attendees (sometimes within the sponsors’ open office space)
Introduce their company to attendees in the beginning (not with a hard sales pitch down) to note the awareness of where they are located and what they do.
Sometimes pay for video recording of the Meetup discussion so presentations/panel discussions can be shared openly afterwards (the video can be branded by the sponsor for a long tail)
Provide drinks for attendees (not necessary, but a nice extra)
Most of them are vendor neutral. Some are vendor specific, but the DAM Meetup group is not locked down to represent the same DAM vendor every time we had a DAM Meetup.
Vendors who pitch should recognize their audience (DAM Meetup members) has finite patience and often high expectations. Sales pitches often go over like a lead balloon. Most organizers and sponsors should recognize this upfront. Quick demos on relevant topics are often tolerated and welcomed.
The leader you are welcome to follow
The largest DAM Meetup group in the world is NYC DAM Meetup in New York City. There is an average of 10 DAM Meetup events organized per year. NYC DAM Meetup is vendor neutral (no preference to any DAM vendor) because knowledge enrichment around DAM topics is the goal. Not sales. Since there are 200 vendors in the DAM industry, there is very little reason to lock down a DAM Meetup group to just one.
Record a Meetup
Not everyone can attend every DAM meetup, so recording panel discussions or speaker presentations is one way for a specific Meetup to have a ‘long tail‘ beyond the allotted time of the DAM Meetup event.
NYC DAM Meetup records many of its Meetups, thanks to generous support from its sponsors.
Video recording takes a fair amount of time to do (prep, light, sound, record, edit, post, etc), so this is often done by people who do this for a living so it makes a good, lasting impression for a truly global DAM audience.
Post the video recording on YouTube for the global DAM audience to watch, learn and share.
When video is not an option, NYC DAM Meetup considers audio recording for the global DAM audience to listen, learn and share.
Take pictures during the Meetup. Show what is happening, where it is happening and who is there. You can upload the photos directly to Meetup.com as a visual record. After all, it is a public event.
If you have slide decks from presentations, you can share links to a slide deck using slideshare. Then, share these on social media.
Remember, this is a public event. Record it. Post the recordings free of charge for everyone. Learn from it. Share it with others.
Ask for Feedback
Before, during and after a DAM Meetup, Organizers should be open to feedback whether it is a phone call, in person or a comment posted online. Take all comments and feedback with a grain of salt. Some of it may be helpful. However, organizers often do not get any feedback. Remind DAM Meetup members you are open to comments, feedback and quesitons by literally asking for it either during or at end of the DAM Meetup. Ask them to rate the DAM Meetup. Meetup.com will automatically prompt members with some questions, however few people actually complete this. Feedback is good to receive so you can find out what people like/dislike, what was good/bad and can help point out what needs work for the future.
We have even seen hecklers before and we often hear them out. When we ask a heckler to pinpoint an issue to be addressed or even offer them the opportunity to present during a DAM Meetup, they often do not deliver. So be it.
The most consistent providers of feedback we have seen are often amongst co-organizers themselves, a few select members and the sponsors themselves. And it is important to listen and learn.
What success looks like
We are seeing a number of new DAM Meetups starting up all over the world. While I was meetup co-organizer, our membership went from 200 people to over 800 just by consistently providing great content combined with networking venues. We want to see them succeed. The recipe for a successful DAM Meetup group has three key ingredients, 1) once the time is committed… 2) and great content is provided… 3) to an audience who is willing to gather together.
Those who participate in DAM Meetups are recognized as leaders in the field of Digital Asset Management and this is reinforced with each and every DAM Meetup because the bar is risen every time a new DAM Meetup is held. Any audience paying attention will recognize this.
The networking opportunities can be huge. Speakers get noticed. It is great for lead generation. Deals sometimes get made afterwards. And it can be a lot of fun.
Is there something else you would like to hear about Digital Asset Management Meetups?
Is there something you’d like to share that you have learned about DAM Meetups?
More people are interested in getting a Digital Asset Management system to help them actually manage their thousands or even millions of digital assets they are accumulating every year. Storage is much easier today, but actually managing and finding what is needed in a timely manner takes more effort. Once an organization selects one of the 200+ possible DAM systems and get it operational, a harsh reality sets in which few people talk about… It still takes people to keep the system working properly. To be clear, I am not referring to people running on a hamster wheel to make it run. They run more in the sense of a mechanical turk. Not like the crowdsourcing service available today, but often an internal service with institutional knowledge of your organization’s workflow, business, culture and other needs. Yes, I am referring to people embedded within your organization or at least working closely with the teams of people who request assets, create assets, upload assets, meta tag assets (kind of important part often overlooked), distribute assets where they are needed repeatedly. It is a thankless job few people understand.
This is not an IT function. If the DAM “works as designed” and it often does, IT often does not care.
You need people (at least one) who are close to the actual users who are using the system. This is where you position them.
Yes, it takes people to aid the user adoption of a DAM system. It is much more than a cheerleader role. It is not just [build/buy/license/setup/test/train/make operational] and they will come. This might be true in baseball teams, but not with DAM. Your organization has to deal with change. And let us not discount how few people embrace change. The change can be positive, obvious and even pain relieving, but human nature and company culture will still prevail. Even if it goes against logic, change is still resisted.
Enter the DAM Professional.
Someone recently asked me how can they justify headcount now that they have a DAM since they were working from 7AM to 11PM. This sounded very familiar, so this sparked the idea to write this very blog post since I have helped several companies to do this.
First of all, here are some of the wrong ways to attempt to justify an increase in headcount for a DAM.
(Note italics on this blog are used to explain humorous, but incorrect methods which are sadly seen too often in the real world.)
Assume/Hope/Pray/Pretend people will notice you working insane hours and that will automagically grant you staff/assistants/contractors/helpers/elves/metadata fairies. May as well keep hallucinating and this might happen only in your mind. Back to reality. Try talking to your supervisors about the issue, but they will need to see measurable results that will be hard to dispute instead of a few weeks of long hours which is ‘normal’ nowadays in the workplace. Does the squeaky wheel get the grease?
Run around screaming with arms waving above your head while bumping into desks, doors and walls until exhausted. This is repeated a few times per week. More often, this behavior is replaced with whining to people who could not care less or have no power to change your situation. If there are true pain points, they need to be discussed sanely with your supervisors. Whining is not measurable result unless you are attempting to measure how much more you will be ignored and avoided by your co-workers among others.
Cry to get your way. Unless you have a weak supervisor who knows nothing, off to counseling you go for the emotionally unstable and deal with the unprofessional, childish behavior when the water works have ended. The problem will be waiting for you if/when you return. There is no crying in DAM.
Expect money to rain from the sky to help pay for more help. Keep hallucinating. This is not gonna happen even if your organization has millions, billions or even trillion dollar budgets. It ain’t gonna happen. Priorities need to be justified. Read on and I will explain how to justify this as a priority.
Yes. I have seen all these scenarios. Others reading this may have also.
I have seen many people resign, retire, outright quit, get fired and simply wimp out over DAM. Admittedly, its not easy and can be painful. But, there is still no crying. You are not alone even if it may feel that way sometimes.
Digital Asset Management is not for everyone. Long hours is sometimes part of the deal, but burnout should not be part of the deal. So how do you justify the increase of DAM solution headcount.
Even if you are a salaried employee, you work a certain number of hours every week. Maybe you work too many or maybe you are working a bunch more than you’d like doing tasks that are less fun then others. Multitasking or not, no task gets done without time. Someone’s time will be used to get a task accomplished.
No task gets done without time.
As a DAM professional, you have a lot of tasks which no machine can do. At least not yet. A few tasks can be automated and/or possibly done by other people.
If you need to justify your first DAM professional, I would suggest reading one of my earliest blog posts which is just as relevant today as the day I wrote it on Why do I need a Digital Asset Manager? If your organization still does not understand the need for people to run a DAM, they may need to fail in order to learn and someone will need to point out why they failed. Sometimes DAM Consultants can help point this out and help fix this since employees rarely speak up. It sometimes helps having an outsider say it [even if it was said before].
It does not matter what you title a DAM professional since I am in the opinion that titles mean less and less today. I was a Digital Asset Manager for a number of years and managed a DAM all by myself until I justified an increase in headcount. Working 60-80 hours can do that. If it is Tuesday and you have already worked 40 hours that week, you should be well on your way to justify an increase in head count as long as your accounting for what you did during your working hours. Sleep does not count toward work hours, but it helps to get some.
Bottom line, technology does not work alone. We have a while before it does. It works with and for people. Not the other way around. If you have no people using your DAM, you just adopted another shelf baby which will collect dust…instead of assets and value to your organization. Poof goes your ROI. Pick people who will champion your DAM for your organization.
When you are ready for some vendor neutral consulting on Digital Asset Management, let us know.