Job Growth in Digital Asset Management Offers Career Opportunities for Information Professionals


Although some people think job prospects for information professionals are shrinking, John Horodyski, a lecturer at the School of Library and Information Science at San José State University (SJSU), disagrees. And Horodyski says one of his students at the SJSU information school, Ian Matzen, is an excellent example of a new information professional who is carving out a career path that takes advantage of expanding opportunities for information professionals.

Both Matzen and Horodyski work in digital asset management (DAM), a growing field within the information profession. 

According to Horodyski and Matzen, vast amounts of digital assets are created daily. Retailers and corporations must manage digital photos and videos to be used on their websites. Millions of digital files are uploaded to the Internet only to disappear without being cataloged, categorized, and archived. 

“There is a wide range of environments that need information professionals, beyond the traditional library setting,” said Matzen, who was recently hired for a digital asset management position based in London.

Horodyski hopes Matzen’s passion and success in digital asset management will inspire others to explore non-traditional career paths. Horodyski interviewed Matzen recently to talk about his experiences in the DAM field, and to help others learn more about DAM careers.

Q. You were recently hired for your first DAM job at NET-A-PORTER (a luxury fashion e-retailer). Tell me more about this position.

A. As a digital asset junior technician, I will be involved in managing rich media, deploying new technology, and capitalizing on my knowledge of digital video. I will be working with a team to maintain the company’s digital asset management system (DAMS), keeping multiple taxonomies up-to-date, meeting with departments to determine functional requirements for the DAMS, and customizing the DAMS interface to meet these needs.

Q. How did you become interested in digital asset management?

A. My background is chiefly in digital video post-production where I managed videos, as they were edited, mixed, and finished for broadcast and web distribution. When the recession hit and my employer was forced to downsize, I began considering new careers. I chose digital asset management based on how much I enjoyed coordinating client media and the positive interaction I had with several professionals working in the field.

Q.  What interests you about digital asset management and where do you see the field going in the future?

A. I see DAM as a holistic practice involving many aspects of a business, not just the digital files that need to be managed. The days of saving your files onto a hard drive and then locking it away in a closet are over. The future is about sharing and open-access. Users can now find and share digital assets anytime, anywhere. I am excited to be a part of the digital asset field, working to improve its functionality as well as be a part of the changing nature of taxonomy and metadata.

Q. What kind of changes do you see in taxonomy practice and metadata management?

A. Rather than being overly hierarchical to meet the needs of subject matter experts, the taxonomies visible to users will be flatter than before and include more general terms. Depending on the business and the users, an indexing taxonomy may be different from the one that users interact with to search a collection. To support the use of a collection by a variety of users with diverse backgrounds, multiple taxonomies will need to be developed and employed. Metadata is also going through some changes. Now that the concept has gained significance for most companies and institutions, its security and management has become paramount. Metadata will also be relied upon more heavily to support workflow. For example, a digital curator may be notified when an asset needs to be refreshed or is automatically removed from circulation if its usage rights have expired.

Q. How have you used social media to develop as a professional?

A. The most important practice for me has been to regularly post to my personal blog. Sharing my experiences, thoughts, and ideas publicly has been a rewarding way to develop professionally. Tweeting has also been important. Not only have I enjoyed exchanging ideas with some great thinkers, I have benefitted from some valuable encounters. After connecting on Twitter, the CEO of an image management company and I met for lunch to discuss digital asset management.

Q. Which courses have been helpful to you and would you recommend to other students interested in DAM?

A. All of my classes at the SJSU information school have been extraordinarily helpful, but I would especially recommend LIBR 282 Digital Asset Management, LIBR 281 Metadata, LIBR 259 Digital Preservation, LIBR 251 Web Usability, and LIBR 210 Reference and Information Services.

Q. What can you suggest to current students and others who want to learn more about DAM and get involved in the professional community?

A. I recommend attending professional conferences and finding opportunities to volunteer. In the summers of 2012 and 2013, I did social media blogging and tweeting for the Henry Stewart DAM EU conference in London. In May 2013, I traveled to the Netherlands to cover the FIAT/IFTA Media Management Seminar on AudioVisual Metadata. In November 2013, I attended and wrote about DAM for Museums, a London conference aimed at cultural heritage institutions. In addition, my volunteer experiences helped me expand my knowledge and bolster my resume. For example, I volunteered for the Ashmolean Museum where I scanned and OCR’d (Optical Character Recognition) publications from the Eastern Art Collection. Converting them into plain text allowed the content to be shared online with the general public.

Matzen will complete his Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree at the SJSU information school in December 2014. He hopes to continue to work in DAM and help promote this emerging career pathway.  

Related Content: