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Organizing a Marketing DAM

This is part 4 of our marketing department’s journey to creating a scalable content management and delivery system using RSuite built on MarkLogic. We began the journey in late 2013. I’m a bit behind because of all the attention we have had on getting the MarkLogic World tour content together. But i am back in writing mode. And here we answer the question, how in the world do you organize all this stuff?

I am always in awe of those people who can move an entire house – and have the whole place set up as if they have lived their for years in a matter of months. After 10 years I still have boxes that have remained unopened, and truth to tell – my younger son’s room was never actually done – I just moved stuff into it.

So how do we set up a content into a single system after having had it reside in containers all over the place – in a way that will let the marketing team hit the ground running? The RSuite content management system is not just a digital asset repository – it is also a workflow system – truly mixing both content management with digital asset management.

As RSuite’s first non-traditional client – both teams had a learning curve. RSuite’s strength is in knowing the publishing space and having professionals who can create custom workflows that meet the needs of its clients. Regardless if it is book publishing or magazine publishing – there is a consistent workflow. The following scenario may vary from company to company but it is still pretty uniform: A managing editor assigns a story, it is reviewed by editorial, it goes into production, assembled into layout and finally delivery.

In a marketing department – there are ad hoc processes at every turn. Newsletters, field presentations, corporation presentations, events, Web copy – you name it. Who reviews what depends on – well it depends! That makes defining a single workflow not impossible – but pretty darn hard. So we decided to do something insane – and just move all the content into the system – process be damned. It was a moving day party – everyone in marketing was responsible for zipping up files from every conceivable storage space and importing them into RSuite. The bulk loader made it easy. Now we had thousands of assets in one location. But how should we organize it? And was it even necessary to?

We decided that we would create a folder for corporate identity assets – logos, templates, corporate decks and our corporate fact sheet. The goal was to keep this folder very small – so that we could easily identify the asset for updates. The art department had a very granular folder system that indicated hi-res versus low-res files. All other assets – were just dumped in.

It was actually quite frightening. Once we made the move into the system we lost the original metadata – date of origin etc. We only knew type of asset. In hindsight this was something we might have prevented if we had known to ask. Some files are named with enough description to give us an idea of what the asset was about. But that was about it. We also discovered that we had multiple documents with similar names but which weren’t the same.

I had gone through the processing of putting together a tagging hierarchy – but we decided that we would let MarkLogic’s powerful search be the navigation tool for the time being, as we simply did not have enough bandwidth to tag all these assets manually. We would quickly come back and revisit this decision – but this was the decision we made in Spring.

So moved in, assets everywhere, search is powerful, but something is still not right. This organizational non-strategy is actually giving me hives. Looking at the mess we have created with the interface with stuff just dumped in is frightening. On the other hand, trying to sift through all this rubble and create a system without truly knowing what we have is equally mind-boggling. Think a library after a tornado. In our case, we never had a card catalog to begin with.

Over the next few weeks we will start to observe how people are actually using the system. Then we can better refine a strategy for organization. In the meantime, breathe …

Chief Content Strategist

Responsible for overall content strategy and developing integrated content delivery systems for MarkLogic. She is a former online executive with Gannett with astute business sense, a metaphorical communication style and no fear of technology. Diane has delivered speeches to global audiences on using technologies to transform business. She believes that regardless of industry or audience, "unless the content is highly relevant -- and perceived to be valuable by the individual or organization -- it is worthless." 

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