Interview with Russell Barr

Russ is the managing director of BrandMaster in the UK. Having been immersed in the world of Digital Asset Management since 2001 he has gained rich knowledge and experience in helping organisations embrace and benefit from DAM solutions. At the beginning of the establishment of DAM CC, he gave us a lot of helps and supports. He shared many industry insights with us and brought several wonderful lectures to help young people learn more about the DAM industry.

Here is the Linkedin page of Russell Barr.

(1) DAMM was actually at a very early stage around the beginning of 21st Century. Throughout so many years, besides the increasing volume of digital contents, what do you think are forces that push more and more organisations to implement a DAM system?

The last 5 years has seen an explosion in content and has made the business case for DAM even more compelling. For a lot of organisations the marketing departments are a huge factor in the growth due to the large number of channels that are now being used to market their organisations and the speed of marketing has increased the sheer volume of content. Marketing campaigns today span multiple social channels, web, print, radio, TV etc and as a result the creative content has to be created in ever increasing numbers. Factor in other variables such as screen sizes (phone, tablet, laptop, digital signage, billboards) the number of variations of content increases even further.

Also the availability of digital imagery and video has increased hugely since the turn of the millenium. Whereas with the physical photography of the 20th century would provide a limit to the amount of content due to the sheer time and cost involved in the process, the advent of digital imagery and video means there is less of an overhead to content creation and in many cases content is created “just in case” but never actually used.

Without a DAM organisations are very soon swamped by content and find it increasingly impossible to find the content they know they have, leading to a reduction in reuse and an increase in production costs. With a DAM they can be sure that the content is accessible and available whenever and wherever it is need, and by who.

(2) The cultivation of talents is always an important driving force for DAM’s development. However, we do not have so many DAM academic degrees. In Europe, according to your experience, what did DAM managers previously do before entering DAM industry? And what do you think is the most attractive thing about DAM that makes people want to work in this field?

Increasingly DAM managers are coming from previous DAM management positions. The industry has matured enough now that there are pools of DAM Manager talent out there and they are moving around to different organisations, taking their knowledge and their experiences of DAM with them.

Outside of existing DAM managers I often find that creatives working in creative agencies, especially junior ones, are given the task of curating the agency DAM and end up specialising in that area.

At the more hardcore end of the DAM spectrum you will find librarians and archivists moving into DAM as they have been involved in project where they are migrating physical records to digital storage and, through that process, they find a new niche that they have the experience to fill.

Many see DAM as a new and exciting field to be involved in and there are also a lot of jobs out there for people with the right experience and skills.

(3) Culture environment makes DAM’s functions different from country to country, as a result, the required qualification for a DAM professional differs. What do you think are always the key characteristics and skills that DAM professionals need to be equipped with, no matter what cultural background they come from?

DAM professionals tend to be blessed with a methodical mindset and are able to bring order and structure to the role. Although DAM systems bring with them the structure needed to remove content chaos without proper setup they can cause as many problems as they solve. A good DAM implementation needs to be setup properly and that cannot be achieved without the help of experienced and knowledgeable professionals with a track record in the field.

It also helps for DAM professionals to be fairly technical by inclination. Although the low level technical setup is often hidden behind the scenes it is still helpful for the person running the system to be tech savvy and to understand the limitations and the strengths of the tools.

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