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    Digital Asset Management has a particular meaning with regard to classes of technology.  The term usually refers to the management of rich media – images, audio and video as opposed to text assets.   However, who deals with text only assets?  If we did, perhaps Notepad would be enough.  More often than not we are dealing with assets in a much larger context as opposed to simply locating an image. 

    When getting ready for a project in Digital Asset Management extra considerations need to be given to purpose and capabilities since Digital Assets live in an ecosystem of information, systems, tools and processes and the meaning of “management” can vary significantly from context to context. Projects need to be considered from both a program level, in terms of strategic and enterprise capability, as well as at a project level by focusing on specific business drivers and outcomes.

    Metadata is the core foundation for all asset management and content management systems.  Developing taxonomy is not trivial.  The challenge is getting business leadership to appreciate the complexity and nuances of how effective metadata structures can be created and applied.

    At the program level, DAM needs to be considered as an enterprise capability that has the potential to impact multiple parts of the business.  At the project level, a more tactical approach needs to consider the specific business process perspective and impact on how individuals accomplish their work. Balancing these two perspectives requires a short term view of the immediate challenge along with a bigger picture and longer term view of the enterprise information and application landscape. 

    Here’s a preview of some of my most important lessons learned that we will cover in detail at the conference.

    Establishing drivers, business case, and metrics

    No project is done for its own sake.  There needs to be a result that produces business value greater than the investment.  But that’s not enough. There are many areas where businesses can invest; so there needs to be a significant return to compete with other investment options.  Be clear about how success and benefits will be measured.  When there are clear methods for measuring success and validating outcomes, it’s much easier to get financial commitment.

    Establish ownership

    Metadata projects are complex.   Content authoring may be distributed.  Is metadata an add-on by a central organization (with specialists and/or expensive auto-categorization tools) or does tagging require buy-in of all the producers of content?  Is the project owner in a position to drive adoption?   Get the right owner and champions for your organization before starting.

    Mobilize producers and consumers (or consumer proxies) in the requirements process

    All successful metadata initiatives need to work both for content creators and content consumers.  When requirements input is too one-sided, there is a significant risk of future failure.  The requirements process is a good time to understand how taxonomy can help harmonize the producer and consumer view of meaningful attributes and terms.

    We can all get better at communicating the business value of what we do.  Please send me your perspectives on how to get taxonomy and metadata initiatives funded and mobilized. I’ll share them in a future column.  

    Seth Earley
    Seth Earley
    Seth Earley is the Founder & CEO of Earley Information Science and the author of the award winning book The AI-Powered Enterprise: Harness the Power of Ontologies to Make Your Business Smarter, Faster, and More Profitable. An expert with 20+ years experience in Knowledge Strategy, Data and Information Architecture, Search-based Applications and Information Findability solutions. He has worked with a diverse roster of Fortune 1000 companies helping them to achieve higher levels of operating performance.

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