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The State of ‘DAM User Adoption’ Today

Digital asset management systems (DAMs) have become essential tools for companies with large marketing initiatives. With these systems properly utilized, companies can present a consistent and powerful brand message on every campaign. Although there are many capable DAMs available on the market today, organizations struggle with implementation and utilization of these systems. User Adoption is one of the largest roadblocks that contribute to this struggle. An often-overlooked issue, user adoption is a complex problem and it is a major contributor to the successful operation of a DAM system.

DAM user adoption panel discussion

Insight Exchange Network recently co-hosted a panel-style webinar discussing this issue as it stands today. This webinar was created in partnership with the DAM Guru Program, the New Jersey DAM Meetup Group, and the London DAM Meetup Group.

Moderated by Frank DeCarlo of RPR Graphics, Inc., the panel discussed several different topics related to DAM user adoption and the struggles associated with it. Below is the full recording of the webinar session. In addition to the recording, key takeaways from questions presented to the panel are listed below.

Meet the contributing DAM Professionals

Henrik de Gyor

Henrik de Gyor

Consultant, Writer, Podcaster at Another DAM Consultancy

Lisa Grimm

Lisa Grimm

Director, Digital Asset Management at Novartis

Ian Matzen

Ian Matzen

MLIS, Digital Asset Manager, Blogger at Tame Your Assets

Ralph Windsor

Ralph Windsor

Project Director of DAM Consultants at Daydream

Frank DeCarlo

Frank DeCarlo

CEO at RPR Graphics, Inc.

Discussions on Digital Asset Management User Adoption

What is Digital Asset Management (DAM)?

Ian Matzen:
A simplified working definition is the practice of storing and managing digital assets. To clarify, digital assets being digital files that have had meta data appended to them.

Who are your users?

Lisa Grimm:
In the 20 years that I’ve been in this field I have learned that user role expectations will almost never be met. In other words, the users you defined by preliminary user studies will not be the users you end up with. Early on, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of the different people and organizations who will be using your system.

You need to consider what external agencies will be using assets from your system and how those agencies will access them. Will you set up a liaison role for a user at your company? Will that user have certain access permissions and provide the requested assets to your external agencies? In short, going over all this information will help you understand the bigger picture.

After that, you can create user personas that are specifically built to your different users’ needs. This will create a better user experience (UX) for each persona and yield a higher rate of user adoption.

Ian Matzen:
Another aspect that should be considered is that not all of your users will be human. To clarify, in today’s age, you may have other systems that will integrate with your DAM to exchange assets or information. It is important to ensure that there is an API or a way for other systems to communicate and pull metadata or assets from your DAM.

Henrik and Lisa:
To sum up, these roles and personas will constantly be changing throughout the program life of your DAM. They are always going to need refinement. Having a form of governance to manage these personas and users will ensure that UX remains consistent as people and organizations change.

Why are UI and UX (User Interface/Experience) so important to User Adoption?

Having a good understanding of what UIs (if any) your users are currently using can be helpful for user adoption. There are a lot more vendors offering DAM solutions nowadays. As a result, many of your users will have had experience with a DAM system. They will have expectations on how a DAM should operate. In addition, your users may have expectations on what improvements your new DAM system will bring to your organization and their role.

The time it takes your users to complete a task in your DAM is key; always consider how you can save your users time. User experience can be affected by a poorly designed or non-intuitive UI. In addition to this, a slow or unresponsive DAM system can also create a poor user experience. In many ways, people feel like technology has over complicated the world and user adoption can become problematic if a user feels like their experience using your DAM is slower than their previous methods.

Another factor that can affect the user experience is how the UI handles larger and larger asset sets. Can the DAM system scale with your business? You need to consider how the user interface will change as more and more assets are added to the system. If the UI becomes cumbersome or ugly to look at, then you’re going to run into adoption issues later down the road.

How do tablet/mobile interfaces factor into use cases and user adoption?

It wasn’t very popular in the past, but mobile interfaces have become more common recently. Most of the time, when you’re accessing assets in your DAM system, you’re working in a project setting at a desktop with a team. However, we’re seeing more cases of mobile interfaces being used for reviewing assets and more administrative work.

I would agree that there are more organizations looking for mobile interfaces for DAM work “in the field”. A mobile interface can be useful to a user for a number of reasons. For example, they may need a mobile option to display assets to a client for relevant discussion. Similarly, users may need to display digital assets in their DAM to help sell a client on their organization or campaign.

Like we discussed earlier, we’re finding that more users have had previous experience with other DAM systems. There are more vendors that claim to have this functionality as an offering. It’s important to know what user groups are going to expect the option for a mobile interface. Also, you need to consider which user groups expect a mobile interface versus which groups/roles will actually benefit from a mobile interface. Unmet expectations can hurt user adoption.

What techniques have been successful in the adoption of DAM? What kind of challenges have emerged along the way?

In general, you need to approach user adoption from a sales perspective. However, instead of asking people (users) to invest their money, you’re asking them to invest their time. We’ve found that clients will develop better adoption strategies when they consider this perspective. They will tend to move away from the more linear “how-to” guides or videos and create more engaging solutions for user adoption.

Keep in mind that “change management” is so necessary for successful user adoption. You will find much more success with user adoption if you map out the entire adoption process. Similarly, identifying your user groups and their needs can help develop a change management system that works for your users. Finally, utilizing “change champions” (or “power users”) within your organization can really help you maintain higher rates of user adoption without top-down management styles. These champions can help you help your users.

We’ve created “DAM awards” that we gave to users who utilized the system in different areas of the organization. This program became very successful. There were users who would include these awards on their email signatures for the month. In short, it could be helpful to consider what kind of token certificate or incentive programs might be helpful for your user adoption.

Additionally, every DAM system requires a central librarian user to help maintain the integrity of the system. These users can help you build user adoption. They are subject matter experts that should be sending out regular updates to users or updating FAQ pages with helpful tips for utilizing the new system. Regular communication with users provides feedback to the subject matter experts and system management. As a result of this feedback, the system will improve over time. This will ultimately lead to higher rates of user adoption.

How do you get over technical issues and other user push back?

Technical challenges and adoption roadblocks are normal to any system implementation. It all comes down to proper testing. So consider the problems that you’re hoping to solve by implementing your new DAM. Can you test how well your system solves those problems for you and your users? Ultimately, that’s what a DAM is designed to do: solve problems for your users.

Likewise, you need to plan and manage a user adoption program to ensure that your subject matter experts (librarians) are working with your users. Above all, this collaboration and communication is essential to a properly utilized DAM system. The best way to get over user push back and technical challenges is to plan and manage user adoption.

In addition to proper planning, it is also important to listen to your users. You need to make sure that their concerns and pain points are heard and validated. Also, make them a part of the process and they will be more likely to engage with your new system. Like Henrik mentioned, it is essential to have regular communication about technical issues and system changes with all of your users.

You want to make sure that your users understand your implementation road map. Also, make them aware of how important their feedback is for prioritizing your implementation. Overall, being present and engaging with your users will help mitigate push back from adoption or technical issues.

I would agree that empathy is key for communicating with your users. In addition, another technique to consider is creating a “user story” as a key tool for your subject matter experts (librarians). Your stakeholders and sponsors will use these stories to gain a better understanding of how your new DAM will impact the organization. Also, you should present these stories to the users for feedback. Like Lisa said, make them a part of the implementation process whenever you can.

One final thing to add: I think testing scripts/procedures are valuable tools to gain insight on system usability. In addition to these tools, “user acceptance tests” can be an even better way to gauge user adoption. These unscripted tests will show you and your users how they will use the DAM intuitively (without direction).

Overall, including your users in every step of the implementation process and hearing their concerns is essential to avoid push back and boost user adoption.

What are some metrics you can use to measure User Adoption?

It’s going to be hard to generalize how to measure successful user adoption of your DAM system. The number of users in your DAM system might not be the best metric to use. Alternatively, consider how well your DAM system is integrated into your organization. How many facets or departments have come to rely on the information and resources that your DAM now provides?

The metrics for successful user adoption will vary between organizations. As a result, it’s up to your team to determine when a DAM is properly utilized by the right users.

I would like to point out that it is essential for you to define these KPIs before implementation begins. Like Henrik mentioned earlier, know what problems are supposed to be solved and who in your organization will benefit from this DAM system. You need a baseline from which you can measure the success of your DAM system. Whatever your metrics are for measuring success, it will be impossible to gauge progress if you don’t have a control measurement before you start.

Join the DAM community for networking and learning from other pros

Looking for more information on how to successfully implement and manage a DAM system? Frank, Henrik, Ralph, and Ian will be presenting on different topics at IEN’s 3rd Annual DAM Practitioners’ Summit in January 2020.

See Topics & Speakers for the upcoming DAM Practitioners' Summit

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