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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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What is MADAM?

King’s College of London has started its first Masters (MA) degree program in Digital Asset Management (DAM) this year. MADAM is the first Master’s Degree program of its kind. Best wishes in all their endeavors.

As written in an earlier post, this is not the only school of higher education to offer courses in DAM by name. There are other courses and programs that may call it something else in the fields of Archiving (specific to digital) and Library Science (again specific to digital). The main issue I see ad keep hearing about is that too many schools are still resisting (not changing) to teach their students about the real digital world and how things get done today. More adjunct professors who still function in the real business world, not just full time academia helps minimize this. I would also encourage any student to get a real job or  internship to see how things are done…not in theory, but reality.

You are more than welcome to try and:

  • Apply theory in practice when applicable
  • Learn to think on your feet
  • Think it through and act for long term, not just short term results
  • Walk through the possible consequences (pros/cons) of one action over another
  • Reference/respect other people’s point of view and take them all with a grain of salt
  • Do not ask anyone to do something you would not do yourself
  • Do it yourself before asking others to repeat the same tasks
  • Eat your own dog food (practice what you preach)
  • Learn to spend wisely, not based on impulse
  • Diversify
  • If failure happens, fail quickly and learn why this happened so those reasons do not keep recurring again. Then, don’t repeat that failure.


What higher education courses are available about DAM?

Since my last post about DAM career planning, a whole host of higher education courses popped up on my radar.  The courses found, researched and listed are located in the US, UK and even China. There were plenty of higher education courses offered which mention DAM within their syllabus, but these courses listed below are focused on DAM.

Since 2003, Rochester Institute of Technology (New York, USA) offers a DAM course three times per year.

Since 2006, San Jose State University (California, USA) offers a graduate elective course on DAM.

Since 2007, Simmons College (Massachusetts, USA) offers a DAM course as an elective to a graduate program.

Since 2008, Zhejiang University (Zhejiang, China) offers an undergraduate course on DAM.

As of January 2010, Columbia University (New York, USA) offers a continuing education course all  about DAM.

As of March 2010, Birmingham City University (Birmingham, UK) offers a module in Media Asset Management (MAM) as part of a certificate program.

As of September 2010, King’s College London (London, UK) offers the first Master’s degree program about DAM (MADAM).

There may be other higher education courses specifically about DAM offered elsewhere which I would love to hear about and I am sure the readers would too.

Special thanks to all the DAM professionals, professors and administrators who helped me compile this list.


Where can I find a DAM mentor?

During one of my presentations at a recent Digital Asset Management (DAM) conference, the audience made a request for a DAM mentorship program. A recent poll shows growing interest in such a program and some of you have already contacted me about this program. I welcome others to contact me about being mentored (being a mentee). If you have experience as a DAM professional (preferably at all levels of experience listed in my earlier blog post) and are also interested in being a mentor, let me know.

If you are awaiting the internship program, there are several major universities in the US who have contacted me since my post about career planning and mentioned they are already (or are about to start) offering DAM courses and interested in an internship program for their students. There is work being done toward spreading the word online as well as at several DAM conferences about these educational programs. Details coming soon.

There are not enough mentors today (in most fields for that matter), so I have made it one of my goals to start this DAM mentor program and remain vendor agnostic.

When will this start? Beginning in January 2010, I will begin offering a DAM mentoring program online on periodic basis (probably twice per month). There is no obligation to meet twice a month. You may choose to participate as often as the conversations are scheduled.

How and where will this mentor program start? Since geography and time zones are what really separates us today, this program will begin as a live voice conversation online (via VOIP) and any visuals can be shared (via screen sharing software). Mentoring can be done as a group or individually. In the future, we will explore in-person conversations, but those are likely to be even more limited in time and location.

What time and day would these online conversations happen? It all depends on your time zone and schedule. We are not bound by any geographic limitations nor travel necessary.

In what language? Individuals in the US and Europe have already contacted me about this and I welcome others globally as long as they speak fluent English.

Who can be a DAM mentee? Any individual working professionally toward the implementation of a DAM solution within an organization. This can also include individuals who already work with a DAM solution within an organization and who want to have a regular conversation about DAM. This is not about DAM for individual use, but about DAM for use within an organization (or even across an organization).

How much will this cost? Free. It will only cost you time for the conversation. I am donating my time and using free software (legally downloaded) to have these mentor/mentee conversations. Think of it as a DAM professional giving back to the DAM community to enrich the knowledge others. As long as the mentee is willing to learn and ask questions, I am willing to give guidance and/or suggestions. It is your responsibility what you do with the guidance or suggestions given. I assume not responsibility for (a) any hurt feelings (shoulder to cry on not included), (b) any action taken based on my guidance, (c) my suggestions and/or (d) any bruised egos. I will guide you as if I were in your shoes, based on the information you provide.

What about the mentee’s identity and affiliation to an organization? The mentee’s identity and affiliation is kept confidential unless they want to reveal it themselves. I will continue to blog about commonly encountered questions about DAM (which you can read about on this blog) in future posts without any organization(s) names nor the names of any individuals listed. Chances are you are not the first to ask those DAM questions.

Interested in being a DAM mentee?

  1. Contact me directly
  2. Tell me where in the world you are located (in order to find a suitable time within your schedule and my schedule).
  3. Note what topics you would like to discuss so I can possibly sync them with others wanting to discuss the same topic in a group discussion. If you need this to be an individual discussion, please specify.
  4. I will send you details on when we can have a live periodic conversation and some free software tools to do so.

Where can you find your DAM mentor?