Guru Talk: Nick Pozek – Asia Society
With a profound respect for the informational dimension of DAM, Pozek has learned that having a mentor is invaluable in connecting technology with culture to find the best solutions.
What companies/organizations have you worked for as a DAM professional? What was your role at each?
I’ve worked primarily in the nonprofit sectors and largely with cultural organizations both as internal staff and as an external consultant. Recently, I’ve joined the team at Asia Society where I manage digital strategy in the museum division.
How do you describe digital asset management to others?
I like to draw parallels between DAM and other types of asset management. Whether it’s financial assets, physical assets, retail inventory, or human resources, the goal is to take what you have and leverage it the most effective and sustainable way.
How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?
I had the benefit of finding a knowledgeable and patient mentor in a former supervisor, Will Real, at Carnegie Museum of Art. Will helped me to understand not just the information architecture dimensions of DAM, but also the human factors to consider. I can’t speak highly enough about the value of having a mentor. It’s easy to find whitepapers and technical information on DAM best practices, but understanding how to align the technology with the culture and values of a specific industry requires special insight. Having a mentor to help you understand that alignment in a procedural way makes it not only easier to find the best solution , but also to articulate its value in a way that has traction with your colleagues.
What’s the most important thing for someone new to DAM to understand about DAM?
If you’re implementing a DAMS, conducting discovery and gathering requirements are going to be critical and are worth investing the time to do correctly. The key to this process is a very careful and comprehensive audit of the systems in place. Org charts tell you surprisingly little about how assets are used and shared. Digital assets can be subject to a formal review process for publication with a rigid list of necessary departmental approvals, but they can also have internal uses that aren’t documented. In order to create an effective system, you have to talk to everyone and ask questions until you get a complete picture.
What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?
Adoption of a new system can be rough for everyone involved. It takes a lot of planning to roll out the system and get the users onboard. Generally, there are going to be some users that are change-resistant and skeptical of the new system. But there are going to be others that are eager to finally have a tool to improve their workflow. For the first group, you have to cultivate buy-in without overpromising. For the second group, you have to manage expectations without tampering enthusiasm.
What is your vision for DAM? What will it look like in 5 years?
I think the next big step is going to be a better solution for dealing with the inevitable intermingling of personal and professional assets. With digital property becoming much more portable, our understanding of intellectual property becoming more nuanced, and the firewall between our personal and professional lives becoming all the more tenuous, it’s clear that systems need to evolve to accommodate these changes. Probably the best example of a response to this shift was last year’s trend of dual-identity smartphones. I would expect a number of similar solutions in the DAM space to emerge over the next few years.