The University of Massachusetts Amherst (otherwise known as UMass Amherst or simply UMass) is the flagship of the University of Massachusetts system. With approximately 1,300 faculty members and more than 29,000 students, UMass Amherst is the largest public university in New England and is ranked the 29th best public university in the nation. The university has also entrusted the Widen Media Collective to manage and distribute its most important branded and historical visual imagery. We had a chance to sit down with Maile Thiesen, global administrator of the UMass image library, to talk about the university’s past journey in digital asset management (DAM) and where they hope to go in the future with the Media Collective.
Most of Maile’s duties are dedicated to the acquisition and management of visual assets. She was actually hired to research, purchase, and implement a DAM system. Before she began that process, she had to get a handle on how UMass was currently organizing its digital assets. It won’t come as a shock to many to hear her use terms like “the wild west.” They, like many other higher ed institutions that have yet to address their growing DAM needs were trying to manage everything in folders on shared drives. Designers want things as TIFFs, and they want them quickly, so something clearly needed to change.
She started organizing all of their assets locally in Lightroom while simultaneously researching DAM vendors. She looked at fifteen different DAM vendors and set up a beta test group that looked even deeper into a subset of them that rose to the top. In the end, the beta group identified the Media Collective as being the easiest to use and had all of the necessary functionality and customizability they were looking for.
Maile is a very proactive admin and has done a great job of getting into the heads of her users. She has been able to anticipate what her user base will be looking for within their DAM system and configured the dashboard of the Media Collective to spotlight and feature events and common searches so users do not need to “dig” deep to find what they are looking for.
Customer service was a very important part of her evaluation of DAM vendors. When researching DAM vendors, she worked with Brenna Hale, one of Widen’s team of senior advisors. Brenna was quick to respond to Maile’s questions with a very thorough response. Maile noted that the other DAM vendors did not respond as quickly or as friendly as Brenna. To her, this was a reflection on the type of service she could expect after she became a customer.
Maile also refers to what we call the “Widen Experience” when she talks about the knowledge share, the community, and how much educational material Widen makes freely available in an interesting and easy-to-understand format. All of this really attracted her to the product. She noted our materials were less about “selling a product” and more about sharing ideas and best practices in our industry, which she respected.
As a cloud-based provider of DAM, we sometimes think the argument over hosted vs. installed has a clear-cut winner. But Maile reminds us of a simple issue that is amplified in a higher ed institution the size of UMass: As a browser-based solution, you don’t have to worry about having your users upgrade their operating system and creating new and unforeseen compatibility issues.
Maile has many great quotes in this video, but this was a great one that we feel really illustrates the value of a DAM, long term, for many organizations, especially higher ed institutions like UMass. “A university may be more committed to a historical archive than some marketing organizations, but once those assets start to grow and you define what your brand is or what you consider iconic, then your history becomes rich, and you can really curate that in a way that you can’t with just a file folder system.”
Maile has dedicated her time to fine tuning the flow of digital assets through her system. The success of the system is mostly a product of her efforts, but we’re happy to know that she chose the Media Collective as her tool of choice, and that she feels that she has a trusted partner with the support Widen’s people provide. We look forward to long and prosperous relationship.See what other customers have to say about their Widen experience or get in touch to learn more about how we can help you!