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A guide to the lifeblood of DAM: Key concepts and best practices for using metadata in DAM.
 

A guide to the lifeblood of DAM: Key concepts and best practices for using metadata in DAM.

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By John Horodyski of dameducation.com. ...

By John Horodyski of dameducation.com.

Do you know what digital assets you have and how to identify, organize, and describe them? This should not be rushed, as this is critical to the impact your DAM system's use will have on your overall efficiency and, ultimately, your bottom line. Getting this wrong could damn not only your DAM, but your broader workflows and processes as well. This white paper will show you the essential building blocks and best practices of metadata for your digital asset management system.

Learn more at http://www.widen.com.

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    A guide to the lifeblood of DAM: Key concepts and best practices for using metadata in DAM. A guide to the lifeblood of DAM: Key concepts and best practices for using metadata in DAM. Document Transcript

    • A guide to the lifeblood of DAM:Key concepts and best practices for using metadata in digital asset management systems. By John Horodyski. Sponsored by Widen Enterprises and DigitalAssetManagement.com.Scan for PDFCopyright © 2011 Widen Enterprises, Inc.
    • A guide to the lifeblood of DAM: Key concepts and best practices for using metadata in digital asset management systems.Do you know what digital assets you have and how to identify, organize, and describe them? This should not berushed, as this is critical to the impact your DAM system’s use will have on your overall efficiency and, ultimately,your bottom line. Getting this wrong could damn not only your DAM, but your broader workflows and processesas well.Metadata is an “asset” unto itself—and an important one, at that. It provides the structure and information neededto make your assets more accessible and, therefore, more valuable. In other words: it makes them “smart assets.”Simply digitizing video and audio files only scratches the surface of their value as digital assets. Their full potential isrealized by their use and the relevance of the associated metadata. After all, how much value does an asset have ifyou can’t find it?This white paper will show you the essential building blocks and best practices of metadata for your digital assetmanagement system.What is metadata and what does it mean to DAM?What is metadata? Metadata is, simply put, data about data. It refers to the descriptive elements that define and de-scribe an asset. The National Information Standards Organization breaks metadata down into three main categories: • Descriptive metadata describes a resource for purposes such as discovery and identification (i.e., information you would use in a search). It can include elements such as title, abstract, author, and keywords. • Structural metadata indicates how compound objects are put together, for example, how pages are ordered to form chapters (e.g., file format, file dimension, file length, etc.) • Administrative metadata provides information that helps manage an asset, such as when and how it was created, file format and who can access it. There are several subsets of administrative data. Two that are sometimes listed as separate metadata types are rights management metadata (which deals with intellectual proper ty rights) and preservation metadata (which contains information needed to archive and preser ve a resource).Here are some other key concepts to understand, especially if you’re starting your metadata analysis: Taxonomy: The science of naming and organizing things into groups or classes that share similar characteristics. It can also refer to any scheme for such an organization of information—in the case of DAM, for the purpose of classifying and identifying digital assets. Taxonomy through metadata - The categories, sub-categories and terms that make up a taxonomy often manifest themselves as metadata. Metadata therefore enables more precise search results and personalization. Controlled vocabulary: Controlled vocabularies contain preferred and variant terms with defined relationships—hierarchical and/or associative. Examples of controlled vocabularies include glossaries, specialized dictionaries, standard terminology lists, synonym rings, reference data, authority files, domain-specific taxonomies, thesauri and ontologies. Thesaurus: A tool that controls synonyms and identifies the relationships among terms. It usually has a preferred term and can be hierarchical but doesn’t have to be. For example, dog, pooch, puppy, mutt and “dog” is the preferred term.Copyright © 2011 Widen Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved. 2
    • A guide to the lifeblood of DAM: Key concepts and best practices for using metadata in digital asset management systems. Authority files: Typically used for lists of people, organizations etc. e.g. list of public companies, industry segments, geographic locations. This could be a taxonomy.Building a metadata strategy: key issuesNow that the foundation has been set with definitions and key concepts, you can get to work on building an effectivemetadata strategy. The three key questions you need to answer are: 1. What problems do you need to solve? 2. Who is going to use the metadata, and for what? 3. What kinds of metadata are important for those purposes?It is important to consider how much metadata you need. Metadata is expensive; it takes valuable time to create thestructure and ensure that it serves your needs. If it does not, then time and money are wasted not finding assetsdue to inadequate metadata. Building, testing, inputting and maintaining metadata and taxonomies come withcosts. Implementing metadata may require UI changes and/or back-end system changes. Every metadata fieldcosts money and time to implement and adjust to. You need to make your model extensible and avoid the commonmistake of buying tools first, then figuring out the metadata strategy later. Ensure that you account for businessgoals and how metadata should contribute to reaching those goals. To help get that going, there are some criticalcomponents of a metadata strategy that need consideration: ◆ ◆ Building the right team: Name a team of DAM stakeholders to take the lead in identifying goals and designing a metadata strategy to meet those goals. ◆ ◆ Naming your requirements: Before getting deeply involved with any vendors, you should be able to ar ticulate and enumerate (both to the vendor and your own organization) those things you absolutely need a DAM system to do for your organization. ◆ ◆ Making the business case: Identify all costs, benefits and risks of creating and maintaining rich metadata. When making ROI calculations, you should account for the resources required to add, maintain, test, and update metadata and taxonomies. ◆ ◆ Metadata specifications: These are always subject to change, but you should have some sense of what your metadata model will look like, including any controlled vocabularies and keywords. ◆ ◆ Ongoing workflow: Where will metadata come from? Know who will be responsible for maintaining and adding metadata, along with what processes they’ll be following. ◆ ◆ Q/A & Testing: Have a method of measuring the effectiveness of your metadata model and protocols. Detailed metrics go a long way when it comes time to evaluate and make improvements.There is a considerable effort behind this, but careful observation of these components will help you start your workand move you in the right direction.Copyright © 2011 Widen Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved. 3
    • A guide to the lifeblood of DAM: Key concepts and best practices for using metadata in digital asset management systems.How Does it All Get There?One cannot exaggerate the importance of understanding that most of the benefits of DAM software can’t berealized without good metadata. You need to sell the vision of what the company will gain by having good metadatain your DAM system. Implementing metadata may require UI changes and/or back-end system changes. Metadatapowers efficiency in DAM which is what allows administrators control and end-users the ability to find what isneeded on a moment’s notice. Furthermore, every metadata field costs money and time to implement and adjust to.There is no benefit unless the tagged content cuts costs or improves revenues; you need to demonstrate bottom-lineand top-line benefits—although bottom-line ones are easiest to prove early on. It is difficult to analyze how muchoperations cost today and how much would be saved. Therefore, focus on the productivity gains.There are some key metadata fields that you should focus on: Knowledge Basic metadata Retrieval Rights maintenance Creator Creator Embargo Date People Creation Date Title Expiration Date Places Owner Description Location Restrictions Organizations Publication Date Subject Usage Restrictions Financial metadata Harvesting in-line Title Publisher Pricing markupConsistency is important when applying metadata. Consider the following tags: • President Barack Obama • Barack Obama • President Obama • ObamaEach tag could point to a different topic. Yet, fundamentally, it’s the same principal element of the subject of“President Barack Obama” that is relevant. Having a principal DAM administrator and/or metadata specialist onyour team will be highly valuable. In fact, depending on the size of the organization, there may well be multipleadministrators in various locations responsible for tagging and asset ingestion (i.e. insertion into the DAM library).If this is the case, it is even more important to ensure metadata consistency.Last, there is metadata in headers, file systems, naming conventions and query logs that could be extractedautomatically. While automatic classification tools exist and produce results that are more consistent than human-generated ones, humans are more accurate and better at recognizing nuance. “Semi-automated” or “hybrid”approaches are often the best way to go, generally with human involvement for distributed manual reviewand correction.Copyright © 2011 Widen Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved. 4
    • A guide to the lifeblood of DAM: Key concepts and best practices for using metadata in digital asset management systems.What is your metadata model?Time and time again, people feel the need, and rightly so, to describe their assets in multiple ways (i.e., from theperspectives of multiple users). More often than not, these exercises can lead to well over 75 metadata fields fordescribing assets. Sometimes, this number can rise north of 100—information overkill in all but the rarest cases.What you are looking for here is a manageable set of fields with which you are able to discern the most criticalcharacteristics (administrative, descriptive and technical) of your assets. There is no “magic number” of metadatafields, but you might want to shoot for a “sweet sixteen”: the sixteen descriptors that you need to identify, organize,and describe each of your assets. Ultimately, this will be the data your users search against.What is your taxonomy?Once you have identified your assets and have a manageable metadata model, it’s time to consider how this willbe organized in the DAM system, from on the back end and front end. End users generally search for assets by avariety of means: ◆ ◆ Faceted classification systems - searching for assets based upon more than one value or dimension (e.g. “Shop by Material”—gold, silver, diamond, etc.) ◆ ◆ Well-defined folder browsing ◆ ◆ A structured vocabulary from the corporate system feeding the DAM assisting in search & retrieval.Think of your users and how they’ll want to navigate your asset library and search for files. While there might not bea simple one-size-fits-all solution, any good DAM software should be configurable enough to meet your needs.What are the industry standards and which are right for me?Standards should be reviewed during your strategy development. Standards are created by industry members tomeet the specific needs of that industry. It is wise to use an industry standard if you can find one that applies andextend it as needed. You should pick standards that are extensible so that you can add your own namespace (orother accepted extension).Sometimes content owners require vendors to offer some level of collaboration to enable automated contentinterchange and interoperability between software tools. It is important to remember that standards are valuable forefficient, precise, federated search and retrieval across repositories, as well as automating workflows, distribution,and integration with other business systems. Indeed, standards adoption results in huge cost savings due to theefficiencies created.Examples of metadata standards to consider are Dublin Core, PRISM, (PRISM DIM2), METS, ONIX, XMP MARC, ,IPTC Headers, GILS, SCORM, IMS and JDF… which one(s) you use should depend on your business’objectives.Copyright © 2011 Widen Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved. 5
    • A guide to the lifeblood of DAM: Key concepts and best practices for using metadata in digital asset management systems.Benefits of metadataSome people waste more than 40 percent of their time searching for existing assets and recreating them when theyaren’t found. This lost productivity, and redundancy can get very expensive. The key to avoiding these unnecessarycosts is good metadata to aid and assist in search and retrieval. Other benefits of metadata include: • Higher ROI based on increased sales through improved product find-ability, par tner cross-sells and up-to-the minute updates to adver tising • Cost-cutting through resulting from fewer customer calls (due to substantially improved website self-ser vice) and more efficient CSR responses • Improved regulatory compliance (i.e. avoidance of penalties for breaches or regulations) • Reduction in redundancies in work and data storage. • More effective rights enforcement resulting in less loss of revenue due to piracyMetadata & taxonomy governanceThe best way to plan for future change is to apply an effective layer of metadata governance for your DAM system.There is more to maintaining the metadata than just maintaining the taxonomy and metadata specifications.Vocabularies must change over time to stay relevant. This goes for new terminology being added to assets as wellas synonyms and/or slang terms. The DAM software’s user interface (UI) might need a refresh or redux according touser needs and demands. One great way to make sure the system and metadata schemes are meeting the needsof their users is to offer them a standard change request form and a procedure for accepting or denying the changerequest. And any updates should take place at published times, only, to provide lots of notice and not affect theusers in the DAM.Measuring metadata and taxonomy qualityWhile often neglected after implementation, metadata demands ongoing monitoring and management. Don’t forgetQ/A and testing as they are critical to your success. Testing should begin very early in the process. In fact, starttesting as soon as the first assets are loaded into DAM library.It’s important to note that metadata & taxonomy development is an iterative process and you will need to solicitongoing feedback from your users. Use both qualitative and quantitative measures, and remain flexible throughout.You should be gauging things such as: ◆◆ consistency ◆◆ appropriateness of tags ◆◆ time to complete tasks ◆◆ reaction to search results ◆◆ usefulness of training materials ◆◆ user satisfactionCopyright © 2011 Widen Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved. 6
    • A guide to the lifeblood of DAM: Key concepts and best practices for using metadata in digital asset management systems.Best practicesUsing metadata in a DAM system takes work, but once you get going, it will be your greatest asset. Some bestpractices to adopt include: • Star t with a few metadata fields that are relevant to all assets and gradually move on to groups of less universally applicable fields (those that are specific to cer tain file formats, products, divisions of your organization, and so on). • Avoid overloading your users with metadata fields. • Have a subject matter expert analyze your content to inform decisions regarding categories and tags. • Have a midpoint check-in with stakeholders to ensure you’re on the right track and build ongoing consensus (e.g. every three months). • Be prepared to adjust metadata and taxonomies as your business needs evolve.Practical metadata rulesHere are some practical metadata rules to follow: ◆ ◆ Develop an incremental, extensible process that identifies and empowers users, and engages stakeholders with feedback loops, user testing and evaluations. ◆◆ Do a quick implementation that provides measurable results as quickly as possible and record them. ◆ ◆ Repurpose assets as often as possible. ◆ ◆ Accept that it won’t be perfect; all metadata schemes can be improved. Just ensure that what you have in place meets your needs, and make adjustments when that’s not the case. ◆ ◆ Implement good governance policies.Content is no longer king. The user is.If you have great content and no one can find it, the value of the content is diminished. You need to understand howyour users and customers want to interact with assets before designing your metadata schemes. If you carry thoseuser needs through to the back-end data structure, you’ll empower users with the categories and content attributesthey need to filter and find what they want.Metadata shouldn’t be rushed. Take the time to leverage best practices like usability testing to determine needs andvalidate your metadata and taxonomies. Remember that metadata is a “snapshot in time”—keep it up to date andlet it evolve. Keep your eyes on your company’s goals, as the best metadata design is the one that increases therevenue of the company by harnessing the power of your data about your data.Copyright © 2011 Widen Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved. 7
    • A guide to the lifeblood of DAM: Key concepts and best practices for using metadata in digital asset management systems.About the AuthorJohn Horodyski is Principal, DAM Education (http://www.dameducation.com), a DAM consulting agency focusingon DAM education & training. John is also the Manager, Digital Programming, Product Development at the CBC(Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). John also serves as Director of Marketing & Business Development forWrinkled Pants, an educational software studio focused on the development of education and literacy based appsfor the iPad.John teaches a graduate course at San José State University, School of Library & Information Science in DigitalAsset Management. John spent many years at Electronic Arts where he managed their global digital assetmanagement system as well as being a producer within the EA Sports and online divisions. He has publishedprofessional articles and presented at numerous conferences on digital media, metadata in video games andtaxonomy design and continues to offer DAM training & consulting.John holds a Masters Archival Studies and Masters Library and Information Science from the University of BritishColumbia and is the Managing Editor to the Journal of Digital Asset Management.Copyright © 2011 Widen Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved. 8