I just recently moderated a panel at Createasphere’s Digital Asset Management Conference in Los Angeles. The topic of the panel was “Search”. In particular, the discussion was focused on the opportunities and challenges that may impact the operators and implementers of DAM systems. Like with many topics selected for conference panel discussions, the topic of search is vast and diverse. Certainly a one-hour session can only scratch the surface. However, it is important to highlight some of the new innovations available to the DAM community and provide caution for known challenges. The panel included Ed Elliott (Sr. Solutions Architect, Technicolor), Linda Burman, (CEO L. A. Burman Associates Inc.) and Chris Simons (VP, Harris Automation and Asset Management). Each has a unique perspective on the topic and as a result, turned the session into an interactive discussion with the attendees.
We kicked-off the session by providing a sampling of the wide array of possible search strategies DAM operators may find themselves one day implementing. DAM systems can range from small systems within a single department with only a few users to being an enterprise wide data repository that integrates a global workforce. In addition, DAM systems can be general-purpose digital content management systems or highly specialized for particular industries or tasks. The role of a DAM is likely to evolve over time within an organization. The rate of change for industries that rely on digital assets is extremely rapid and shows no signs of slowing down. So what might be an area of modest interest today might become a full fledge implementation project in the not so distant future.
Generally speaking, when the topic of search is first mentioned, most people visualize the type of text search methods we use every day when using search engines on the internet, looking for e-mails within our e-mail client or trying to find a file within our computer’s file system. The techniques that help drive these types of searches generally fall under what is termed Text Analytics. Another fairly common technique is Faceted Search. Faceted Search enables one to further filter search results through other existing metadata criteria that have been indexed specifically to help users narrow the result set. Faceted Search is commonly used by e-commerce retail websites to enable customers to traverse a series of product categories, brands and product characteristics to quickly and intuitively find the item they would like to purchase. DAM systems can also utilize this same technique to help end-users to more easily locate the digital assets they need.
Another important topic of search is Federated Search. As organizations continue to try to tie together their many silos of digital assets into a cohesive strategy, the need to query more than one repository to locate the assets becomes more important. It is not uncommon for there to be good reason for managing an organization’s assets in separate collections. The objective of Federated Search is to enable one to query these multiple and independently managed data systems and present a unified result set to the end-user.
Another well-known challenge for many DAM systems owners is the Content De-duplication. Digital assets can take up a significant amount of data storage space and the elimination of unnecessary duplicate assets can result in monetary savings for any organization. Specialized search techniques are required to identify exact duplicate copies of digital assets and are likely to eventually need to be implemented by most DAM system operators.
Digital media such as images, sound recordings and videos, are not generally composed of or do not contain textual information. However, there is a wide spectrum of methods one can use to extract from or attach additional metadata that can be indexed and used for search within your DAM systems. These techniques can range from automated methods such as extracting metadata out of file headers, to file or content analysis techniques such as color information, frames per minute, bitrate information, compression standards, etc… One can also develop tools to enable users of the system to manually enter additional metadata including tags and annotations.
Web Analytics have been popular for many years as a way of deriving a deeper understanding about the content that is published and accessed on the Internet. These statistics can be analyzed and provide insights that can ultimately be used to further refine you search strategies. These same sorts of techniques can be used internally for your DAM system users so that searching can be made more relevant to their needs.
So far, we have covered what I would consider to be the most commonly known and practiced search related techniques. We have more to go though. In part 2 of this discussion, we will dig deeper and introduce a number of more specialized areas of search. With the rate of innovation being what it is these days, you may find a use for some of these techniques in your DAM systems sooner than you think.
For additional information or to contact Nick, please visit http://www.nuemeta.com