Full disclosure here, everything I know about digital asset management I owe to the good graces and generous knowledge-sharing of Deb Fanslow, MLIS (above), a contributor to one of the key resources in this field, DAMNews, aka “Digital Asset Management News, Reviews, Trends & Opinion.” I had an opportunity to interview Deb for a client project, and was fascinated by the breadth and variety of career opportunities digital asset management represents. (See more about Deb here, here, and here.)
The following is a brief excerpt of the more in-depth coverage to be found in the forthcoming LIS Career Center’s Digital Asset Management Career Guide.
What is Digital Asset Management?
Per the DAM Glossary (and quoting with permission),
Digital Asset Management (DAM) is a collective term applied to the process of storing, cataloguing, searching and delivering computer files (or digital assets). These may take the form of video, audio, images, print marketing collateral, office documents, fonts or 3D models. Digital Asset Management (DAM) systems centralise assets and establish a systematic approach to ingesting assets so they can be located more easily and used appropriately.
Think of digital asset management as the oversight of digital materials such as photos, webinars, online or print sales brochures, audio files, company-created videos, and any other type of relevant multimedia – all of which used to simply disappear into the ether, never to be seen again.
What Does a Digital Asset Manager Do?
Digital asset managers collaborate with the creators of the assets to ‘ingest’ the materials into the DAM system, similarly to how a records manager or knowledge manager would preserve, catalog, and provide access to records or internal company information.
Those creators typically are the marketing and sales departments, but digital multimedia assets might also be generated by, for example, the training department, a product development team, or the internal communications group (perhaps a video of the organization’s CEO discussing a new company initiative).
Marketing technology company Widen has a good overview of what specific activities might be involved, including:
- Entering metadata
- Creating and assigning roles and permissions (who has access to what, and what are they allowed to do with each asset)
- Training and adoption (coaching colleagues on how to use the DAM system)
- Working with outside stakeholders (these might include PR/marketing agencies, social media marketing contractors, freelance photographers, etc.)
- Auditing system performance (does it support the business goals in the way anticipated, is it reliable and easy to use, have any glitches or recurring issues popped up that need resolving?)
- Gathering (and responding to) user feedback (what could be improved for productivity, support, and ease-of-use?)
Who Do Digital Asset Managers Work With?
Digital asset managers work with the content creators (think marketing and sales departments primarily, but also anyone anywhere in the organization who might be creating digital content that’s appropriate to “capture,” catalog for future use, preserve, and archive). They also work with those who need to retrieve, use, and/or modify those assets – whether on staff or in some sort of a contract relationship.
An example of this would be a nonprofit working with a public relations agency that is going to help them with a membership drive initiative. The nonprofit needs to ensure that the agency uses the correct brand specifications (e.g., logo colors, font, tagline treatment) when creating any sort of communications for them. Because the nonprofit has these digital assets properly cataloged and easily accessible, they can quickly get them into the hands of the agency creatives.
Skills and Education
Digital asset management is essentially a mash-up of cataloging skills, digital preservation skills, and archiving skills. A great way to get a sense of what expertise is most in demand here is to check out the overview of digital asset management jobs on the Code4Lib.org site.
For starters, however, an overview of the key skills tagged in the job descriptions includes (in addition to digital asset management):
- Content management
- Digital collections
- Digital library
- Digital preservation
- Digital repository
- Dublin Core
- Encoded Archival Description (EAD)
- Web archives
- And a number of more specific skills that reflect the solutions currently in use, such as PHP, Drupal, Ruby on Rails, and My SQL
What Other Terms are used for DAM Jobs?
Some of the variations here are:
- Archives & digital assets specialist
- Creative services manager
- Dam administrator
- Data specialist
- Digital asset archivist / coordinator / librarian
- Digital director
- Digital library developer
- Digital production and metadata lead
- Digital services manager
- Digitization & metadata specialist
- Director of digital assets / collections
- Marketing media systems manager
- Media archivist
- Metadata digitization officer
- Senior technical specialist
DAM Survival Guide: Digital Asset Management Initiative Planning / David Diamond. Create Space, 2012. ISBN 978-1478287667.
Digital Asset Management: Content Architectures, Project Management, and Creating Order Out of Media Chaos, 2d ed / Elizabeth Ferguson Keathley with contributions from Henrik de Gyor and Ralph Windsor. Create Space, 2015. ISBN 978-1517482886.