If you work in the field of Digital Asset Management (DAM), you are likely already working remotely because DAM systems can be and is easily managed by professionals from literally any location. Regardless of any man-made or natural disaster, there is little to no reason why DAM can not be curated, configured, implemented, managed and used from any location, at all times. We still live in a world filled with VUCA, however, remote workers adapt to changes and integrate well with others more quickly.
DAM has been filled with VUCA ever since we could remember what either acronym stands for. DAM professionals can communicate well with users in virtual meetings and can be a great compliment to change management, daily operations, implementation, testing, training, troubleshooting, and user adoption. Working remotely is not just tolerated, it is a competitive advantage now. And so is DAM, hence its popularity.
DAM is more in demand now than ever. People and systems need access to digital assets to continue regular business operations. While the technology helps, it is the DAM Practitioners that ensures the DAM continues to produce increasing value for its users (people), its workflows (process), its metadata (information) and interconnected systems (technology).
Metadata won’t produce itself by osmosis nor by the assumption that it will automagically exist for digital assets without the help of DAM Practitioners.
In January 2020, there were 1,200 unfilled Digital Asset Management professional job openings. Oddly enough, DAM talent may not want to come to their overly expensive metro area, to sit in a cubical farm to simply support a ‘company culture’ of the way it has always been done. The ‘rules’ of the working world have changed to remote which is new norm and not just during the pandemic.
Unless you need to move physical objects around for work (such as hospital staff, store employees or delivery personnel), everyone else can find a way to begin working remotely. With basic remote computer skills, a laptop and a good internet connection, anyone can apply a remote working environment from anywhere in the country or the world.
If you are still looking for DAM talent, they are more accessible than ever from anywhere in the world remotely. Remote workers can participate in scheduled virtual calls, meetings, screencasts, webinars, as well as collaborate online and continue delivering results as good or even better than in a traditional onsite meeting with a whiteboard or in any offices. Of course, soft skills matter because this is still about communication.
Remote DAM Practitioners Survey
Please take a few minutes to complete this survey so we can all better understand Remote DAM Practitioners today:
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.
After listening to a recent webinar, I recall a few people asking me where they could find some Digital Asset Management (DAM) Integrators and implementers. You can find a few lists for DAM vendors (175+), including ratings, functionalities and other various offerings. However, when it comes to finding a matrix of all DAM vendors match up with X number of implementers and Y number of Integrators who can work well together, the search results happen to be ZERO (at least at the time this blog post was written). This could be be a dynamic matrix available online since there are so many choices to mix and match. To some organizations, this may be like pairing apples, berries and oranges depending partly on technologies, but in the end you still want a good fruit salad (a bunch of systems working well together as prescribed).
There are often a bunch of choices, but not clearly nor easily found. Some organizations limit those choices based on location (close proximity) or culture (part of that fit) rather than simply budget alone. Creating such as a list or matrix would require a fair amount of collaboration and transparency across vendors, both large and small. While some in the DAM space are interested in their users ability to collaborate on projects within systems, it would great to see them work together in a more transparent manner. Time will tell if that will happen, just like the call for a comprehensive DAM Glossary across the DAM market. It will likely start as another list of players (vendors, implementers and integrators) who are paid to be listed as they are sometimes are (this is called “pay to play”).
Maybe someone will make this list/matrix freely available to everyone to help the DAM community connect more easily and help the DAM market grow faster than 30% a year.
Until such a comprehensive list or matrix exists, you will still need to prioritize what will happen in each phase of your DAM solution without restricting next functions/requests/uses in future phases:
Many times, your best move is:
1. Pick the DAM vendor from a short list of DAM vendors which have systems that fit your organization’s business, creative and technical needs. Ask to speak to each of their current DAM customers. Keep in mind your:
People: buy-in from potential users, if you actually want user adoption. It is not just about the business or technical perspective.
Processes: workflows today and future theoretical workflows in writing (part of an organization’s internal research that should happen first)
Technology: basic (which often starts as folder structures and file naming conventions) to overcomplicated technology (which are rarely adaptable, functional, interoperable, scalable and user friendly, all at the same time. These could involve sets of not-so-stable, merged legacy systems and/or complete silos).
Information: most forgotten part of the DAM which enables search. Your DAM is only as good as its metadata. Does your metadata enable the needed search results?
2. Implementation: Ask those short listed vendors for recommended implementers (some vendors can implement their own systems while others do not, by choice). Be sure they can meet your needs, timeline and budget. Vet them as well and ask to speak with a few of their existing or previous clients.
3. Integration: Figure what other systems are going to be integrating with the DAM. Be sure the API or Web services for integration is both available and clearly documented by the vendors in question with an SDK. If documentation is not readily available (or outdated), expect delays on figuring out what is specifically needed, measurable, acceptable, actionable, realistic, time-based and thoroughly tested. If you do not vet your integrator, you could be the guinea pig client. Ask to speak with a few of their existing or previous clients.
If you need help with this, ask a vendor neutral DAM consultant. This way, you will get unbiased advice and they will not try to fit your square pegs (your existing needs) in round holes (sometimes called “preferred“ vendors).
Where is your list of Digital Asset Management Integrators and implementers?
Let us know when you are ready for some vendor neutral consulting on Digital Asset Management.
Createasphere is having their annual Digital Asset Management Conference in New York City on October 7 and 8, 2013. There are many new speakers presenting this year.
On October 6, 2013, there is a one-day pre-conference DAM 101 Workshop & Certification.
There is a series of Add-On Seminars:
How To Select a DAM System: Best Practices and Pitfalls To Avoid (10/7)
Semantics and DAM – You Don’t Know What It Means to Me! (10/7)
Metadata Deep Dive (10/8)
Jumpstarting Your DAM Implementation with PSV (10/8)
The Conference Program is filled with plenty to listen to, learn from and enrich your knowledge about Digital Asset Management.
Beneficial topics at this year’s conference include:
Identify It. Measure It. Monetize It. The Importance of Asset Identification
Digital Archives and Content Reuse
Brands and Story: Essential DAM in Transmedia & Cross Platform Content Creation
And this year, I am back to talk about:
The People Aspect of DAM: WHO is going to do all this DAM work?
When it comes to the people, process, technology and information aspects of Digital Asset Management, you will hear plenty about the last three. What about those who will actually use the system daily or weekly? What about your users? What about those who will maintain the DAM and know your organization’s workflow inside and out? Does this take additional headcount? Can you simply assign/reassign existing staff to do this? Does this involve temporary or ongoing tasks? Do they really have the time to dedicate to DAM when it was not part of their original job description nor core competency? Do they have what it needed to get the job done? What are your options nowadays? Join us as we address the questions of WHO for your organization. We will address the people part of this equation among those new to DAM, the seasoned DAM practitioners attending for enrichment, DAM experts, HR professionals and technologists.
On October 7, 2013, Createasphere’s Digital Asset Management Conference will have a hosted evening cocktail reception with NYC Digital Asset Managers Meetup Group (RSVP required if you are not attending the conference due to space limitations).
On October 8, 2013, the 4th Annual DAMMY Awards Luncheon will be held to announce and recognize the DAMMY Award winners.
All this will be held at the Westin Grand Central located at:
212 East 42nd Street
New York, NY 10017
Are you coming to Createasphere’s Digital Asset Management Conference in New York City?