March 8, 2022 | Petra Tant
For most individuals, storing files and keeping them organized on their own systems can be challenging enough. When it comes to managing a Digital Asset Management system (DAM) with multiple users, oftentimes in multiple locations, that challenge can seem even more daunting. Even if your taxonomy structure is comprehensive and well planned, your DAM can still have issues or worse yet, go unused if your metadata guidelines don’t work for your users.
Metadata can be used for just about any asset—images, videos, brand documents, standard legal language, HR documents, etc. It doesn’t need to be complex or even all-encompassing. It simply needs to be made up of the information that makes sense for your teams and those who access your DAM.
Whether it’s keywords associated with a piece of content, a description of an asset, something specific to the part of the business that owns the asset, or some combination of information, your metadata is meant to help DAM users find the assets they need quickly. Think about how you search using keywords on a retail website. They are almost always part of a metadata structure that helps you narrow results fast.
AI is a gamechanger
There’s so much promise when it comes to AI, and with modern DAM solutions it’s already here. In the past, tasks like tagging assets with metadata for your DAM were done manually. Today some DAM solutions incorporate AI that auto-tag assets thanks to image recognition, speech-to-text transcription, and optical character recognition. This eliminates the need to input every data point when tagging, which saves serious time. It also makes assets easier to find and use. AI has become so intuitive it can even bring up results that aren’t fully tagged.
Advice from an expert
We asked one of our in-house experts, Petra Tant (VP of DAM Product Strategy) for some helpful tips on metadata and what she provided was extremely useful.
“Metadata in DAM is critical because it unlocks content to business users (searchability), but it also plays a huge role in automation (processes, rules). So one would expect that more metadata is better, however we recommend being cautious with your metadata.”
Tip 1: Be critical
Try to understand what the business value is for adding extra metadata. Once metadata is in, it is hard to remove as it’s closely related with the searchability, processes, and rule-based automation. Be critical before you add more metadata fields and taxonomies since everything you add you will have to govern over time.
Ask the business why they need it—five times. Check if you can’t cover the use case with what you already have. If the business case is close to the one of another business group, work with the business to align on a common denominator. Treat adding metadata as a YAGNI (You Aren’t Gonna Need It!) until business value can be proven.
Tip 2: Be lazy
There is a lot of metadata which can be gathered from the asset itself or which can be assembled over the course of the lifecycle of an asset. Users may make a mistake or may be less consistent, so you should exploit all these options before asking users to add metadata.
Explore the following routes for automating your metadata:
Tip 3: Make it consistent
Build consistency into your metadata attribution by making sure metadata is not dependent on user input. If you do need user input, make sure the user can only add consistent metadata by using a choice list, controlled vocabularies, preconfigured keyword structures, predefined translations, etc.
Tip 4: Speak the words of your users
You need to balance your corporate vocabulary with the words people use to describe something. Building metadata with this in mind, and even extending the system with synonym libraries, can expand searchability for your users.
Tip 5: Evaluate suppressing instead of deleting
Once you have metadata, it’s hard to remove due to older assets and content that use it, and there will be historic dependencies with other systems, processes, and rule-based automation. So, if you want to get rid of metadata, look at suppressing it, which is easier than trying to get rid of it. For instance, you can change visibility on fields for certain users, archive older content, filter option lists to not show older values, etc.
If you do want to clean up your system by getting rid of metadata, then it may be wise to look at this as a content migration. What metadata do you have today under the old standards and how would you want to apply new standards? But look deeper than just the metadata layer, because you’ll find historic dependencies everywhere.
Tip 6: Document meticulously
Once you’ve figured out how you want to structure your metadata, meticulously document everything along with dependencies to other systems, rules, and processes. The day will come when you want to make a change, and if it’s not well documented, you’ll have a hard time assessing risks related to deleting a metadata field or taxonomy.
Now that you’ve got some great tips on determining your metadata structure, it’s important to take the right steps to make the most of your DAM.
We’re here to help
DAM vendors with a strong reputation are providing solutions with more robust functionality every year. Whatever DAM solution you choose, make sure it grows and scales with your needs. This way, you can continually improve your content management and the experience you deliver in your market. To see how Aprimo can help you make the most of your time and assets, contact us or check out a quick demo of our solution.