We are the DAM people
Three years ago I was an HR manager in Shanghai who spent days bringing HR insights to business processes and linking people with corporate strategies. Three years later, I am one of the DAM people in London who’s bridging creative, business and operational needs in a collaborative environment to connect people, processes and technology.
Life is full of serendipity
I didn’t know about Digital Asset Management (DAM), nor did I know what DAM professionals are supposed to do, until I got the job offer from ICP. My boss asked me: “Are you ready for a career change?” “Yep, let’s embrace the new technology and make a difference between working harder and working smarter.” - That was my answer.
The fast change of pace in the field of digital media and technology industries has become truly exponential. DAM is unique. It is its own kind of animal. It involves little bits of a lot of things, such as database design, software engineering, product design, business operations, customer service, intellectual property rights, project and account management, etc.
So what kind of person would have the well-honed skills to nail DAM? I don’t think one can say there is a single mould in which one must fit, and not everyone’s DAM experiences are the same. The below thoughts are just based on my own experiences of being a DAM person for more than one year.
The China eCommerce team - Unilever account (Jing-top, Liang-bottom)
The equation: “DAM people = ?”
Part of the equation involves technology. You can label us as system administrators, data entry specialists, data analysts, librarians, metadata experts, etc. We don’t really mind people calling us “IT guys” and yes we do speak a "technical language" with IT teams and do the translation for our DAM users and clients. Yet few of us (as far as I am aware) are from a technical background.
And we are more than that. DAM is not just about technology or database solutions, it is a business need. A crucial part of the equation is process and people.
In the interest of clients who are using a DAM system, DAM people who communicate with management need to have an understanding of high-level business needs and how DAM can meet those needs. Why? Because it is important to quantify:
- Time saving: we manage a large collection of rich media assets by making files easily and quickly searchable and usable.
- Cost saving: we help our clients gain immediate ROI by eliminating redundant asset creation efforts; retrieving and redistributing assets; redeploying resources to mission-critical projects.
- Reductions in risk: with a good understanding of intellectual property rights, we maintain key workflows, such as approval loops and usage rights restrictions, so that approved brand assets can be consistently used across trusted partners, multiple mediums and geographies - which is a foundation of maintaining solid brand identity.
The DAM People
Well-honed DAM skills are not something one can acquire in a certification course or weekend workshop. The real DAM world presents challenges that can be enormously complex, especially within this era of “Big Data”. So what it takes to do a DAM good job?
- DAM people have: patience (lots of it), energy (tons of it), attention to detail (every one of my team is a devil when it comes to the detail) and customer service (excellent user support).
- DAM people are: process-orientated (create workflow that make sense to users), love of data (we are a bunch of metadata geeks), thriving on progress (even baby steps), self-exploring (keen learners), problem solvers (we go beyond a fixated mind set and always open up to new ways of thinking and explore new options).
- And…we LOVE questions. A genuine curiosity for new technologies and new approaches to old problems, combined with a healthy scepticism and the ability to evaluate the trade-offs between the new and old approaches, is important.
I am lucky to be a part of a team where people possess those skills and personal traits, who have been guiding and supporting me along the journey of exploring the DAM world. By no means is this a complete list of skills. And for the record, this is not a DAM job post, as I’ve put my HR hat away and put my DAM hat on.
So are you ready to join us and be a DAM person? :)