Here is an awesome article by Naresh Sarwan on DAMNews about automating asset metadata. In it, he comments on a recent CMSWire article written by a DAM vendor representative. The DAM vendor suggests various ways to automate metadata and/or to get out of adding a lot of metadata to assets.
Naresh seems to share my sentiment that if you put garbage in (i.e. inexact or incomplete metadata) you will get garbage out (bad search, frustrated users, assets in limbo).
The issue that no one wants to address with DAM is that we actually need people to run it and take responsibility for metadata quality. Catalogers with a highly technical background and well versed in metadata and findability. Librarians and archivists are pretty perfect for this, but simply installing a DAM system and populating it with assets is no guarantee that users will find what they are seeking.
“To do metadata entry properly requires a combination of both a literal description of what an asset is (i.e. what you can see) and any business/subject specific terminology. This implies either one person with subject knowledge and picture research skills (e.g. a ‘digital asset manager’) or if that isn’t available, a two-pass approach where the assets are catalogued by staff first and then worked on by expert keyworders who understand about cataloguing assets in a way that allows end users to be able to find them also.”