How does a rapidly growing organization with international offices ensure 82,000 members worldwide have the photos, videos and graphics they need to fight financial crime? This is the question we had for James Langan, Senior Global Brand Specialist at ACAMS (The Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists).
With a decade of experience working on marketing and creative teams, James knows the challenges of managing media content all too well. This made him the perfect person to upgrade the ad-hoc file management solutions that the ACAMS team was quickly outgrowing. This interview shares his story.
To start us off, can you tell us a bit about ACAMS?
“Yes, ACAMS is the largest global membership organization dedicated to fighting financial crime - and that is a tall and important task. We achieve that by:
- Certifying the achievements of our members,
- Creating networking platforms to share best practices and,
- Supporting organizations to build robust anti-financial crime readiness.”
We’d love to learn a bit more about yourself, your background and what you do at ACAMS.
“I’ve been in marketing for about a decade now in various roles and departments, as well as a few different industries. I’ve mostly been on the creative side – and that goes from graphic design to video production, and my current role is in branding. My position, as well as my deep background in digital media, made me a great fit to help bring a DAM solution to our organization - which we were in desperate need of.”
We're curious, what initiated your search for DAM?
“Our organization has three main locations: Miami, London and Hong Kong, which made it very difficult to effectively manage our assets. We started our research into DAM in 2019 and then by the time we selected MediaValet as our front runner, COVID happened and our organization made the decision to shift a large portion of my colleagues to permanently remote. This really accelerated the need for DAM for us.
Before using MediaValet, we were all in the office together. Most of us would just collaborate back and forth by walking down the hall and asking for something, and then that person would transfer it through email or WeTransfer. Now that we’re all remote, we don't have that luxury of being next to each other.”
Can you help me understand some of the major pain points you were trying to address?
“There were three that we identified when we were looking for a DAM:
One was file management. We basically had files all over the place. That’s not to say we were disorganized - we’ve been growing so rapidly and had matured to the next stage of our file management needs. A DAM was the next step for us.
Another was departmental disconnect. Departments were managing their files in various silos. Some people would use Dropbox; some would use Box; some would use SharePoint. There were even some people storing assets on their computer hard drives or using external hard drives that would often go missing. We had a disconnect of where our files were and needed something more centralized.
The final problem we identified was video management. As a growing company, we were putting on events all over the world. Big global events with thousands of people in some cases. Some of these would go up to three days and we would have sessions that would be recorded in 4K video - our video files are massive! We were turning over video files so often that video storage became a huge problem and we needed to address this going forward.”
So, is that why MediaValet’s Audio/Video Intelligence was so important for you?
“It's huge for us! We have it installed now and MediaValet has helped us out a lot to get started. It's going to be so important in the future when we get back to in-person events. Before COVID, we had somewhere around 45 to 55 global events – all of these had photography, and almost all had video. It's very important to have Audio/Video Intelligence in place to support our needs.”
Can you tell us more about how specifically Audio/Video Intelligence will help your team?
“Our larger conferences are multiple days – anywhere between 1-3. So, what happens is if we videotape all three days, eight hours each, you're looking at 24 hours of content that we have to comb through to find those little nuggets of gold that we want to put out on social media, on our website or in marketing material. As you can imagine, that takes a ton of time.
Now, with Audio/Video Intelligence, we’re projecting that we are going to cut a ton of time off that process by indexing these videos and then just searching for the keywords of the topics we want to find to highlight. It's going to be a game-changer in timesaving.
One of the things that I find particularly exciting about Audio/Video Intelligence is the extent of its facial recognition capabilities. Some of our events have 200 or more speakers. When we have that many people and have to search for somebody, it's going to be very nice that we’ll be able to easily find them in all of our videos. That way, we’ll be able to quickly create highlight reels of their sessions.”
What made you finally select MediaValet over alternative options?
“Let me tell you the process that we went through:
We knew we needed a DAM. It was going to be a game-changer and revolutionize our marketing department and the way that we share and store digital assets. So, when I took on the task, my first step was to gain a deeper understanding of digital asset management. I researched and chose 10 vendors that consistently came up in the top 10. From there, I researched them and analyzed the pros and cons of each to narrow that down to the top 5 that I felt were the best fit for ACAMS. After seeing demos of all 5, we decided that MediaValet was the best fit for us.
What really made MediaValet stand out was the unlimited support and training. It’s so valuable for us and we’re still taking advantage of it almost six months later. I'm in constant contact with my Customer Success Manager and they’re so helpful in addressing any challenges or questions. We've also already seen two or three of our product suggestions implemented into the DAM.”
Can you describe how you're using MediaValet today?
“We started with power users on the marketing team that could help get in all the assets that we knew were up-to-date and current. We spent the first few months with MediaValet prepping the DAM with all of our brand assets – logos, guidelines and everything else that we consider core assets. From there, once we got everything in, we spent some time restructuring and finessing it, and now we're about to release it to the entire organization, which is a few hundred of my colleagues.
With MediaValet, we’re able to have a single source of truth for our assets and have accountability and responsibility from our team members to go in and update assets because they know that that's where everybody's going.”
What types of assets are you storing?
“At this point of our DAM implementation, we're solely focused on our common assets - mostly our brand assets like JPGs, PNGs, PDFs and Microsoft files like Excel, Word and PowerPoint.
But, we’re now transitioning into the next stage, where our creative team is going to start storing our production files, meaning InDesign Photoshop, Illustrator into the DAM, which will be super helpful with collaboration across the creative team. With the addition of Audio/Video Intelligence, we’ll also be focusing more on video assets, as well.”
How has MediaValet been able to impact your business?
“Right now, the biggest impact the DAM has is the time it saves us around asset discovery and limiting colleagues having to recreate files. We would spend a lot of time searching for asset and then if we didn't find them, we would have to recreate them.
For example, we have well-designed assets that we use for the website and are labeled with each month, such as “June”. Each month, if we have the original file, all we need to do is update the text and swap out the image. But, if we lost track of that file, we’d have to recreate the image from scratch. This could also lead to issues with branding if the person recreating the asset wasn’t aligned.
We were spending a lot of time either doing double work or just spending time researching. This is now cut down exponentially. It’s also helping improve our workflow, which enables us to bring content to market a lot faster, especially with a global organization, where we operate in time zones that are completely opposite.”
We’re always curious - were there any unexpected outcomes from your DAM implementation?
“There were. One unexpected outcome was how beneficial custom user groups are. We have an external design team, who works with us very closely, but aren’t colleagues of the organization. We want them to have some access to the DAM, but only to upload assets. With custom user groups we were able to do this easily.”
Will you also use custom user groups when you release MediaValet to the whole organization?
“Definitely! The common user can easily get lost in the number of files that an organization like us are putting into MediaValet. We want to use custom user groups to make it as easy as possible for them to find what they're going to need, without the noise of assets that aren’t relevant to them. For instance, if somebody just needs a simple logo, they shouldn't have to search through our entire logo database of hundreds of logos – they should only have access to the ones that their team would need. We’re using the feature to hide some folders and limit the amount of assets that show up in the search and category structure.”
So, what's the next step in your DAM implementation?
“We’re at the final stage of prepping our DAM for launch to the entire global organization. A large portion of these users - about 90% - are just going to use it to go in and grab assets - they won’t be power users or content uploaders. We’re putting a lot of effort into making sure the DAM is perfectly outfitted with all of our assets so that when we launch it these users have everything they need without clutter and confusion.
This is going to happen in the next few weeks and then from there, we're going to focus on Audio/Video Intelligence. Hopefully in 2021, we'll be back to in-person events. When this happens, we're going to be generating a ton of video content that we’re going to need to make discoverable.”
What advice can you give to others that are looking into or implementing a DAM?
“The best piece of advice I could give is to find something that's very user friendly. When we did our research, there were some DAMs that just look super confusing. We have a very diverse group of individuals working at ACAMS that are at different points in their career and we wanted to provide a platform that didn't require extensive training - that they could just adapt and learn very fast.
And then secondly, you want to make your category structure and naming system very simple, to keep the platform as simplistic as possible. If it's super hard to use, your users are going to stop using it and they're going to come to you to ask how to find the assets they need. We want them empowered to go and find assets on their own.”
So, the last question is just for fun - what's your favorite movie and why?
“I'm torn on this! I'm either going with Fight Club or Goodfellas. I think they’re both just Classic 90’s cinema. To me, their full circle production, from storyline to acting to directing - it's a 10 on every level. You can't go wrong with either - I'm not sure if Hollywood can even produce movies at that level anymore.”
MediaValet is a leader in cloud-based digital asset management that helps organizations manage, organize and share their digital assets, improving productivity and increasing ROI. See MediaValet in action today.