Is Bad Metadata Ruining Your DAM? Learn the Rules of Elegant Metadata Design

Metadata can make or break any system, but it’s even more critical for digital asset management (DAM) systems (which are often light on textual assets) to have good, robust metadata that supports business needs.

Too little metadata and search is powerless, asset administration is near impossible, and users complain that the system is useless. But build in too much metadata (or overly complex schemas), and nobody wants to tag assets, resulting in bad findability, disengaged users, and impact to overall DAM adoption. Finding the perfect middle ground between simple systems and basic tags, and complex multifunctional and multidimensional metadata management is challenging.

You’re DAMed if you do… you knew that one was coming.

Creating elegant metadata means designing solutions that balance complex needs in a simple yet powerful way, thus making them more effective. To help DAM managers understand the “special sauce” in crafting good metadata, I have written a paper for the Journal of Digital Media Management providing a framework of best practices in metadata design for modern DAMs. Along with my co-author, DAM consultant Romney Whitehead, we discuss the ways in which metadata can be made elegant, and in turn become a valuable tool for users and business, and how to avoid common pitfalls associated with the creation of metadata.

Download your free copy of the article, courtesy of Henry Stewart Publications:

Designing Elegant Metadata Article

Journal of Digital Media Management Volume 11 Number 1, 2022.
Henry Stewart Publications

You can access the full issue at

DAM Migration

Don’t Be Overwhelmed by DAM Migration, Be Prepared! (Oct 4-25 4-part Training)

I recently polled my DAM consultant friends with this question: what’s the one thing you wish people knew before they started a DAM implementation project to improve their outcomes? There was a clear trend in the answers: migrating assets and metadata is hard and it will take longer and more resources than you think. 

Whether you’re starting fresh with your first DAM implementation or you’re upgrading to a new platform, content migration is a key workstream in a DAM project and requires quite a bit of upfront preparation and planning. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of specific guidance on this topic out there, beyond the often vague advice to “inventory your content” and “take time to clean up your metadata”.  

To help close this gap, I’ve been working with David Iscove on a 4-part training course that covers all the key aspects of preparing for a DAM migration, which will be held October 4-25 with Henry Stewart Events.

DAM Migration

A successful migration has a lot of moving parts, from planning what will be migrated based on organizational priorities and change management strategy, to preparing the files both logically and physically for migration, to the actual migration and QA of the assets in the production system. 

Having a clear migration strategy and project plan is a key first step, as there are a lot of decisions to make up front that will guide the timeline as well as the resourcing needed. The strategy covers key elements such as scoping and phasing of migration, including what business units are involved, which collections will be moved and how they will be sequenced (prioritization), and whether there will be a freeze or a delta migration of in-flight assets during the move. 

When planning it’s also important to understand the full range of migration preparation activities and clearly identify resources for these workstreams. DAM vendors typically help with ingestion but not necessarily with metadata cleansing or cross-mapping, file consolidation, or duplicate detection.

Another consideration in your migration strategy is planning for improvements to metadata both at the schema level (what fields are required or available for different types of assets) and at the data level. A migration is the perfect time to correct problems with metadata, including overcomplicated schemas (too much metadata), under-specified schemas (not enough metadata) and poor metadata quality (fields with incorrect, inconsistent or missing metadata). All these types of changes to the asset metadata structure do however require that you plan additional activities and resources for data transformation and normalization. This typically involves things like mapping fields, writing normalization rules, and extracting metadata from existing file paths or naming conventions. 

At the end of the day, however, we’re ultimately talking about moving files from one location to another, but, before you assume that sounds easy, it’s important to consider a variety of considerations which scale complexity as the volume of content increases. It’s very rare that ALL content within a repository is migrated. More often than not, only certain selections of content or particular content types are intended to be migrated. So how do you move only those files which are interspersed among files that you don’t want to move, especially when dealing with millions of files potentially? It’s crucial to identify tactics which allow you to automate this in bulk.

If all that sounds overwhelming, join David and I this October so we can give you the information and tools you need to successfully plan your migration and deliver maximum value into your new DAM.

Upcoming live sessions:

October 4, 2022 – Session 1: Scoping and Preparing for a DAM Migration
October 11, 2022 – Session 2: DAM Metadata, Taxonomy and Migration
October 18, 2022 – Session 3: File Management, Technical Migration and Post-Migration QA
October 25, 2022 – Session 4: Migration Project Management

DAM Canada Symposium

Join Dovecot at the 2nd Annual Canada DAM Symposium

Dovecot is excited to be a sponsor of the 2nd Annual Canada DAM Symposium, hosted by the Toronto Metropolitan University this June 30 from 12:30-3:00pm.

This Canadian community-building and networking peer to peer (virtual) event will consist of “anchor” showcase presentations by accomplished Canadian DAM Professionals. Interspersed with these presentations will be pre-recorded video cameos with Canadian DAM successes and journeys. The Program will take place from 12:30 pm EDT to 3:00 pm EDT with a 10 minute break. This event will be led by David H. Lipsey, well known DAM industry leader, Global Chair of the Henry Stewart Conferences on the Art and Practice of Managing Digital Media. Join us!

DAM Canada Symposium


Roundtable Series on the Business Value of Knowledge Organization Systems

Investment in taxonomies and knowledge organization systems (KOS) is thankfully not the tough sell it used to be 10 years ago. The recognition of how important organized content and data is has definitely increased, especially with the wave of “digital transformation” happening across businesses and the renewed focus on unifying systems and data. However, making the case and proving specific ROI for these type of efforts is still the foundation for kickstarting a successful – and enduring – knowledge organization capability. A good business case with clear ties to organizational goals and operations goes a long way to securing long term investment in taxonomies, including staffing and technology.

To help those in the early stages of developing KOS capabilities, I’m partnering with Ahren Lehnert from Synaptica, Patrick Lambe from Straits Knowledge, and Bob Kasenchak from Factor to host a 3-part Roundtable Series on how to establish and sustain the business value of KOS.


The series will have 3 sessions focused on different angles of the KOS business value proposition and run from March 10 to April 26, 2022. Register below!


Session 1 – March 10 – 11am EST:
Why do we need Knowledge Organization Capabilities?

The first session covers how KOS business value can be framed and measured. Participants will then engage in facilitated breakout room discussions related to their business focus, to explore how the business focus of a KOS can help to identify the best way to communicate the business value. Our panelists will bring together the key points from the breakout sessions and open the event to a full group discussion. The session will be followed by a survey on the capabilities required to deliver this business value, in order to gather real-world use case data from participants and the wider community.


Session 2 – April 28 – 11am EST:
How do we Build Capabilities in Knowledge Organization Systems?

In our second session , we investigate what it takes to build a knowledge organization capability within the business and how to prioritize those capabilities. We will present the results of the survey shared after session one, explain the knowledge organization capabilities framework, and have our panelists weigh in on the results. Roundtable participants will be encouraged to participate in the discussion.


Session 3 – May 26 – 11am EST:
What does it take to Sustain and Reap Value from our Capabilities in Knowledge Organization Systems?

In the final session of The Business Value of KOS Roundtable series, we discuss what it takes to sustain KOS capabilities and grow the business value from them. We will recap the insights gleaned from the previous Roundtable sessions and then the panelists will provide short, anecdotal examples of KOS sustain and growth stories. Roundtable participants will engage with panelists via chat and live discussion.