I was delighted to be asked by the DAM Foundation to join a panel for Communicate Magazine’s Transform conference, talking about metadata and its importance in digital asset management and brand management, with a focus on re-branding (hence the conference title). I spoke alongside Mark Davey, from the DAM Foundation, Romney Whitehead of Net a Porter, and Phil Morton, of Freestyle Interactive.

Marketing meets metadata

I was heartened by the growing enthusiasm for bringing together “geeky” metadata specialists with “creative” marketing people. I think both communities of practice have a lot to learn from each other, even though it may seem we speak totally different languages and care about totally different things. I do my best to act as a “boundary object” or translator bringing together our different perspectives – I like to joke that my role is all about putting the “sexy into taxonomy”.

I find conferences are a great source of serendipitous discovery, making me think about business needs and processes that I don’t usually encounter in my day job. One example was a presentation about the recent major re-branding project by Global Blue – the tax free shopping corporation. I learned about the breakdown of the distinction between global and local marketing campaigns and customer service. This is because the luxury shopping market is aimed at the global travelling community who fly around the world and prefer shopping to visiting museums and art galleries. High-end brands need to provide services for these customers not locally to their home towns, but in the shops they visit, by – for example, having Russian- and Chinese-speaking sales assistants in outlets in Paris, London, and Berlin.

In data terms, this means making sure customer relations management is global, and marketing campaigns travel with the customer as they move, rather than being tied to places. This requires sophisticated personal and social metadata management. It is no longer enough to keep customer data in localised silos, as a customer wants to be recognised at every store in the chain everywhere in the world. In other words, there is no such thing as local for these shoppers any more, there is only location – local is wherever they happen to be right now.

This may seem like an obvious point, but for information managers it poses many challenges regarding data security and compliance with different laws in different countries. For brand managers, marketers, and designers, it means devising campaigns that make sense in local cultures, but also appeal to viewers from all over the world.

DAM to protect good supplier as well as customer relations

Romney Whitehead described how important it is for Net a Porter to track the rights, restrictions, and usage of their content as it is used in different media and in different parts of the world. So, if they have acquired the rights to images of a fashion show in Paris, they may only be able to use those shots in certain locations or in particular publications (Europe, but not the USA, print but not online, etc.). Mistakes could lead to their suppliers refusing to provide images in future, which would be very damaging for the company. Their DAM system is therefore vital to their business.

Internally social

Phil Morton talked about the rise of social media and how corporations need to embrace social media in particular for in-house corporate communications and knowledge management. Many organisations still see social media as something that happens “outside” the organisation, but for younger workers and for collaborative projects, internal social media is becoming a key daily business tool, so information managers have to consider how to provide access to and archiving of key social media conversations.

This is clearly a hot topic, as it was discussed at a Sue Hill networking event I attended last week and which I will write about in my next post.