The Widen digital asset manager series: Being a Widen DAMster – with Mary Ann Williams, Guthy-Renker

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Mary Ann Williams Digital Asset Manager, Guthy-Renker
Meet Mary Ann Williams, the one and only Digital Asset Manager at Guthy-Renker in Los Angeles, CA. Mary Ann got her Master of Science and Information from the University of Michigan, then was hired by Disney Online and moved to LA in the Spring of 2007. It was a good thing that happened and sent her life in a totally new direction. 
At Disney Online, she used their existing DAM system that was enterprise-wide. But, soon after Mary Ann started, the company went through an internal reorganization and a new position opened in their feature animation library. She jumped at the chance to work in the animation studio, which had a beautiful art collection and was building an image catalog to house it. There, she was able to work directly with the software developers for the movies as they created the image catalog. There was a lot of usability and taxonomy work involved, but in the end the project was not sustained. 
Mary Ann moved to Guthy-Renker about a year ago, shortly after the image catalog halted at Disney Online. The Widen DAM system was already in use when Mary Ann started at Guthy-Renker, but it’s been taken to a new level since she’s been the Digital Asset Manager.
Here’s a glimpse into Mary Ann’s daily workspace. Does anyone else recognize that fork? That’s right, it’s a souvenir from the 2012 Widen User Summit when magician Matthew Teague bent a metal fork before our very eyes!
Mary Ann Williams Desk
1. How long have you been a Widen user?
A little over a year, but we didn’t go live with our system until a year ago.
2. How often do you use the Media Collective?
Multiple times a day, every day. I log in at least once a day.
3. In what area(s) of your organization is Widen’s DAM system being used?
It’s enterprise-wide. There’s the domestic side and the international side of the business with multiple brands. All brands, and both domestic and international, are using the DAM system. Some were slower to get on it, but all are using it now. Some users adopt more quickly than others. Especially those who’ve used one at another organization.
4. For what kinds of activities are you using it?
Managing our talent celebrity photos who endorse our products and who are on the infomercials. We have a lot of photo shoots with approval processes and rights are managed on the images. All that goes through the DAM system. Stock photos and product photos, packaging updates, and such. Overseas markets will sometimes be using images expired on the domestic side, but they’re still available in Russia, for example. We use the DAM to secure the assets through roles and permissions now that we’re all international and licensing so many assets.
As we’ve gone deeper and deeper into the DAM system, we’re going from general user setups to more strict and customized permissions. We’re getting tighter.
5. How are your users using the Media Collective?
They use it to find assets, especially hot photos like celebrities. The metadata from our admins is really good. A large number of users, though, are still getting acquainted with the DAM. So, we’ve been going through a lot of good discussions and helping them get back on the DAM.
A couple of groups are getting into higher level workflows, but most of the people are going through moving from the old system to the new way. After all, you can’t go from earth to outer space overnight - they need time to adjust. I find that the categories go through a big shift once users go from the more simple methodology of files and folders to thinking about their assets in categories. 
6. What is the most useful thing the Media Collective does for you?
It helps me delegate asset requests and help others to communicate better. Sometimes users erroneously think they can dump all their stuff in the DAM system and not have to talk about it anymore, but it actually makes us talk more. We find out why people are doing things the way they’re doing them and what they’re doing in the DAM. As users get more comfortable with the process, they get empowered to manage their assets better. The manager of celebrity photos, for example, has really benefited from this. They can now say, “that face can only be used a certain way.” Before, users might have been able to pull images that weren’t approved or they shouldn’t use, but now we can control who has access to what images and the right things are used. They don’t have to spend more time later because an image is in a layout that it shouldn’t be, and it had to be changed. Now, things get approved faster. I can focus on bigger problems like findability issued with assets, or what’s current and available.
7. What are your favorite apps on your smartphone?
I love the Instagram app. I’m on it all the time because I take a lot of photos and I love the camera on the iPhone. I watch a lot of videos on YouTube, I follow Astrology Zone,  IMDB buzz, and entertainment news. I also like the NPR app. I was recently introduced to the Shazam app, which is awesome. Oh, and I love Yelp.
8. Which tech websites or blogs do you follow?
I like social media news like Mashable, TechCrunch, and Slate. I follow Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing, Cupcakes and Cashmere, and Joy the Baker.
9. What do you think is the most important thing other users should know about using a digital asset management system?
They need to know that it’s not an overnight solution. It’s something that works best when you have the top leaders of the organization understand and communicate down the chain. Even though the workers at the bottom usually do all the work, if the leaders don’t champion it, the system and workflow won’t work. None of it’s instant because you’re not just implementing a system, you’re implementing a new culture. 

Topics: Customer Stories, DAMsters

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