An Interview with Kara Van Malssen on the DAM Operational Model

14 February 2023

AVP recently published AVP’s Operational Model for DAM Success, authored by Kara Van Malssen. This operational model, pictured to the right, is a thorough, holistic look at what it takes to launch and sustain a healthy and successful digital asset management program. The video below is an interview with Kara Van Malssen about the DAM Operational Model from the creator’s perspective.

Topics in this interview include:

  • Inspiration and background behind the DAM Operational Model
  • How to think about implementing the DAM Operational Model
  • The target audience for this model and who it will work for
  • Whether this model is only for DAM, or if it also works for MAM, PAM, digital preservation, etc.
  • Why leadership should care about, and invest in, getting digital asset management right
  • The costs of getting digital asset management wrong
  • Why each of the components are important and how we should think about them within the model:
    • Purpose
    • People
    • Governance
    • Technology
    • Process
    • Measurement
    • Culture
  • How AVP uses the DAM Operational Model in our work every day
  • What’s next for the DAM Operational Model

Aligning Our Purpose, Messaging, and Branding

22 August 2022

Over the past 9 months or so AVP has been working with the superstar team over at Parisleaf on an effort to refine our messaging and branding. If you had asked me prior to beginning this process what I thought it would be like I might have thought it would be building from the ground up. Or perhaps just figuring out how to communicate more clearly. However, as a 15 year old company I think the process may be more akin to chiseling at a large stone to reveal the underlying figure. It was a painstaking process that consisted of shedding some things, finely shaping others, rounding off rough edges, making tough decisions, and making commitments. It was a difficult, albeit rewarding process.

We went through this process rather than just building a new website because at 15 years old we knew we needed more than just a new coat of paint. We needed to do some more serious reflection, renovation, and updating. In order to do our most impactful work and deliver the most value to our clients, we needed to understand, articulate, and deliver on what we do best – and do more of it.

Our aim is to take the outcomes of this introspective process and create the flywheel:

  • Be clear within ourselves about what we do best and where our passion lies
  • Clearly articulate verbally and visually what we do best and where our passion lies
  • Attract an audience to whom we can deliver greater value and impact than anyone else out there 
  • Build and innovate on what we do best and where our passion lies, maintaining our advantage and competitive edge

And so, with this intent, you will see that we have refined/new messaging, logo, website, and of course, some really good swag.

So, what did we come up with? You can see the visual changes throughout the site, and we will explain more about the logo below. Our new colors have been selected to represent our organization’s attributes. These are:

  • Professional & Accomplished
  • Future-Forward & Imaginative
  • Dynamic & Energetic

We can also now better articulate why we exist:

We help clients to maximize the value of their digital assets.

If you don’t know what they are, 

if they can’t be found, 

if they can’t be used effectively, 

if they’re damaged or lost, 

if they’re disconnected from other systems, 

then they aren’t creating value. 

And, if they’re badly managed, 

they’re an expensive overhead and a liability. 

Because data isn’t valuable until you can do something with it.

And share our purpose:

Your digital assets have extraordinary potential. 

Our purpose is to maximize their value through the innovation of information ecosystems.

And describe how we fulfill our purpose:

We connect humans and data. In collaboration with our clients, we create complete ecosystems for managing data that are designed around how their teams actually work and think.

Our value comes from our diverse perspectives. To see value and opportunities in data, you have to see things from different angles. We’re a forward-thinking team of cross-disciplinary experts working across a wide range of industries, so we know how to work with data in unique ways for different clients. 

Since 2006, we’ve been helping clients pinpoint their true vision and reach their goals. Instead of generic solutions, we actively listen to your needs and focus on opportunities that bring about beneficial change. We’re experts at challenging organizations to see the bigger picture, to understand where they are on their digital journey, and to navigate their next steps.

Our new logo represents this.

There are multiple meaningful elements within this logo:

We meet our customers where they are.

We look at the big picture.

We bring a clarifying spark.

We guide.

We know that there will be a lot of questions about our updates and we look forward to talking with our peeps about them. Meanwhile, we have anticipated some specific questions about what our rebranding means, and have created the FAQ below.


Your new website seems to focus on digital asset management. Does this mean that you don’t offer services focused on digital preservation or collection management anymore?

No. We believe that digital asset management is a concept that encapsulates everything we do.  Sometimes when we use the term we are literally referring to digital asset management systems (i.e., DAMS), but as a concept, it also encompasses digital preservation, collection management, data management, metadata management, and more. These data are digital assets to your organization—we help you realize their value.

Do you still offer software development? I no longer see it under the services offered.

Through our reflection we had a couple of insights into how we talk about the services we offer.

First, we are not a consulting and software company. We are an information innovation firm. What does that mean? It means that we have a cross-disciplinary team of experts that maximize the value of digital assets through the innovation of information ecosystems. This team of subject matter experts consult, advise, develop, engineer, and more. The titles many of our peeps have consist of some version of Consultant and Software Engineer. We all focus on, are experienced within, and are experts in the domain of digital asset management.

Second, our continued software engineering contributions will be in support of digital asset management projects and prototypes. For instance, we will use software engineering when performing data migration, system integration, metadata cleanup, workflow automation, AI evaluation, and more. We will also use software engineering to build prototypes and proof of concept applications focused on digital asset management practice that will either be handed off to another entity to turn into a production system or will have otherwise served its purpose and be shut down.

What we won’t do moving forward is build production systems that require ongoing maintenance, support, and an entirely different infrastructure and operations to sustain. They are very different animals and operations. This approach and focus maximizes the value and impact that AVP can deliver and leaves the rest to others who can deliver maximum value and impact in those areas.

Does your focus on digital asset management mean that you are a DAM provider now?

When most people use the term DAM they are thinking of a software product/platform. We intentionally use the phrase digital asset management instead of DAM because we are 1) not a product/platform, and 2) we are referring to the broader practice of digital asset management, encompassing purpose, people, governance, process, technology, and measurement. We offer services focused on this holistic perspective of digital asset management practice.

Why did you remove products from your website? What has happened to your products?

We strongly believe in our products and know that they have been significant contributions to the communities we serve. We found that having both services and products on the website created confusion. People weren’t sure if we offered services or products and wondered what the relationship between our services and products were. Therefore we decided that will be focused on the services we offer. Paid AVP products like Aviary and Fixity Pro would best be represented by having their own independent websites. Products that have been developed by AVP for customers like embARC and ADCTest are best represented by those customers and the associated GitHub accounts. And finally, some products like MDQC, Catalyst, and Exactly will either remain available without support on GitHub or will be sunsetted.

Why did you keep the same name?

We actually set out to create a new name for AVP as part of this endeavor and we went through a process that required a great deal of time, energy, and thought. We arrived at a decision that, despite the cons of our name (not memorable, bad for SEO, etc.), redefining the name rather than changing it offered more pros and just felt right.

So, what does it stand for? Well, it stands for multiple things in different contexts. To name a few: Ambitious Vibrant People, Abundant Vantage Points, and Ample Value Proposition. You will see these sprinkled throughout our new website.

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