Transforming DAM Into a True End-to-End Solution


Jill Talvensaari’s 20-year career in integrated technology marketing and product management spans startups and industry leaders alike, including Adobe, Microsoft, and Equifax. She’s created and directed worldwide marketing strategies and campaigns, and she’s led teams in producing more than 20 releases of software solutions that have won awards and have been beneficial to millions of users.

That experience was something we wanted to tap into as we continue our series of interviews with professionals in these fields to examine how they’ve seen digital asset management evolve. We talked with Jill about her career, what sort of “surprises” people on both sides of the industry are seeing and how she sees the evolution of DAM already taking place.

 

Tell us about your history with digital asset management. How did you get involved with DAM?

I first got started with DAM in 2000 when I was working with Adobe’s Creative Products teams. We were defining SaaS based solutions for design teams that integrated with Acrobat and the creative production approval and distribution workflows. We knew Acrobat needed a DAM behind it in order for teams to get the most from the rich PDF workflows that had already been defined. We were also pushing XML and metadata as the way information would flow between different file types and enable creative files to be edited more on the fly without the need for the native app.

 

How have you seen things change in the industry since your career started?

DAM has gone from “nice-to-have” to being a “must-have”. Simple server file structures just aren’t smart enough to scale beyond 2-4 users. World content has literally doubled in the last two years. We have broadband availability on every device in the home and office, so sending and accessing very large files is not a challenge. FTP servers and physically shipping external hard drives are largely a thing of the past. All of that means our approach to both big and small-picture items has changed and continues to change.  

DAM is required for any medium and large sized team and is the essential backbone of any digital strategy or communications system. With the advent of “content marketing”, the creative process is front and center as companies try to reach their customers with timely, relevant, educational and entertaining content. DAM is the start of how you do that. Add CMS, and a smart, innovative team can do the rest. And these are all developments that have happened in the last five years.

 

Do you think industry veterans and even newcomers have a realistic expectation of what the right DAM system can do for an organization? Or are people still seeing “surprises” on both sides?

I think the difference between Work in Progress versus Enterprise DAMs is largely misunderstood. Different DAM systems have strengths and weaknesses when it comes to features, file types and workflows that are supported. It really depends on the industry, and those are big factors that need to be considered when you’re trying to keep “surprises” to a minimum. Realistically, most people know that a DAM will help them gain incredible efficiencies, automate processes, easily find, share and manage files.

The pleasant “surprises” you can get in a DAM that many newcomers might not think about initially are automatic archival and metadata tagging, folder placement and digital rights management. The deeper challenges come in having the right team so that they can define how the DAM will work, identifying workflows for automation, migration of existing data and assets and setting up the users.

Starting with a pilot program in the functional area that needs it the most is usually a huge win for the client and the provider, as that internal team becomes a wonderful group of evangelists and trainers for the rest of the organization. The use of the DAM spreads from team to team across functions and sites, breaking down silos and ultimately changing the way we work together and deliver creative content.

 

How have technological developments affected DAM systems and people’s expectations of their DAM system? 

DAM has become a must have solution. Everyone knows they need a DAM. They understand it’s ineffective and a bad idea to keep files on their desktop or in email.

What’s changed a lot is the availability of DAM both in the cloud as well as on-premise.  We’re seeing a lot of hybrid solutions to optimize file sizes because the creative workflow has such huge workflows associated with it that it allows the new compression technologies, or the ability to show you the exact part of the document you’re looking at, by zooming in. That’s called “tiling”, so you can zoom in and just focus on a certain “tile” for a specific detail. They’re using a lot of that for the approval workflows to go between brands and their agencies and the whole ecosystem of the creative supply chain. There are a lot of technological advances that are making it so people can work from anywhere on any device.

The big thing I’m seeing in terms of what people are looking for in a DAM is that the products that used to all be separate are no longer being treated or thought of that way. Traditionally, you’d have a marketing and resource management system, an enterprise content system, a CMS that runs your website, a separate product information management system in addition to your separate DAM.  What we’re starting to see with these new graph databases and other types of technologies is that they enable you to basically have one place for all of your data, metadata, taxonomy to follow, and then that enables all of those systems to seamlessly create the ultimate customer experience where you can actually act on the data and deliver personalized customer experiences to your prospects and customers right when they’re looking for it, whether it be walking past the front door of a store who are using iBeacon technology, to offering someone a personalized coupon when they’re walking down the grocery aisle.

So we’re seeing companies that were originally looking for DAM might instead decide to handle this huge amount of content with an MRM or WCM, so they can keep people focused and projects on time, as well as companies that want an enterprise content management system that can run their website as well as their internal and external co-brand communications. All of those have a DAM behind them, but now people are articulating their needs in a better way. 

 

It wasn’t so long ago that job titles like “Digital Asset Strategist” were unheard of in an organization. Do you think we’ll see more positions and titles created for the people who are dealing with DAM, or is it going to be more about refining and redefining jobs and roles that currently exist? 

We’re seeing trends like the rise of a VP of Digital Marketing, “CCO”, or Chief Content Officer, or the “CMT”, which is the Chief Marketing Technologist. The fact that a lot of companies already have a Content Marketing VP is very telling. These positions aren’t always C level but they’re in a high position within an organization.

I’m sure you’ve seen the Chief Martec slide that shows all the different players in marketing technology, and how it’s gotten bigger and bigger, and jobs and job titles play into both sides of this conversation. We’re seeing companies like Adobe, Open Text and Oracle buy up a lot of the players that do different pieces of the creative content supply chain. But instead of that being a best of breed solution, it’s more of a Frankenstein solution. They’re putting everything together and intergrating it, but the customer experience might not be optimal across the board.  That’s why you’ve got other players and system integrators like IO that try to pick best of breed and look for those interoperability plays or pain points for specific customers, and we optimize it, but that’s only a piece of the solution. But some people only need a piece of the solution and not the whole thing. In fact, most companies don’t. Only the very, very biggest need all of it, but then you can find different parts of the organization are on different platforms.

Regardless, you have to have people who can make these integrations happen, and that’s the reality whether you have “executive” or “coordinator” in your title.  

 

What’s the most important thing for people to understand about DAM?

Most people realize that you need a DAM system if you don’t have one, so now it’s more about helping people understand that they need to take the time up front to find out what their marketing requirements are around their DAM. They also need to make sure they understand how the person who is signing off on or paying for the system thinks. You need to make sure you’re selling the system internally in a way that makes sense to the CFO or VP or whoever is going to be asking the questions about how the system is working and being utilized once it’s up and running. There are lots of ways to get ROI on a digital asset management system, but the important way to talk about it is in whatever way is most near and dear to the heart of the person signing off on it. You can talk about it in terms of time, people, resources, money, etc. but it really comes down to what’s going to work for your organization.

It’s also ideal to start with a pilot project that works as a proof of concept for the system and for what you’re trying to accomplish with it. Once you’ve done that you can get some internal evangelists on your side and insert it into an area where you’re going to see the most traction, and then you can roll it across the entire organization. 

 

What’s one thing people don’t realize about their digital asset management system?

We’re seeing a lot of creative come back in-house for a lot of brands, but many of those organizations don’t understand the efficiencies in automation that you can gain with a digital asset management system. They might have an in-house team but because they have only been dealing with smaller or specific projects up until now, they have been doing a lot of it manually, and that’s working for them because they have a small group and they’re doing very specific things. As they bring more in they’re going to have a ton of content to deal with and it starts to become a struggle around staying on time, using the right resources, keeping on budget etc. and that’s where a lot of the benefits that you can get from a digital asset management system come in, because you can automate file creation, translation, approvals even.

 

What does the next generation of DAM look like?

I think the next generation of DAM is a more refined combination of these various systems that we discussed earlier. The “frankensteining” of that system will become more refined and organizations will be able to customize them in a more efficient way. In some ways you can think of it as

DAM = CXM + CMS + WCM + MRM

That’s something we’re already seeing. One of the products we resell is recently incorporating some MRM pieces into the software. Another product is purely a MRM play, but they’ve integrated beautifully with an online approval system. In fact, I’m seeing a lot of that happen too. It’s a lot of really tight integrations, where you can subscribe to one but then get the features and benefits of another one that’s basically white-labeled and sold under that single name.

Going back to the Chief Martec slide, besides seeing the big companies gobble up some key smaller ones and integrate them into a true end-to-end solution, we’re also seeing a lot of these tight partnerships that streamline the customer experience. And I think those sorts of things will become even more pronounced.

The technology is really changing marketing, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out over the next ten years. The KPI’s around these things will also become much easier to define, and people will have a better way to define a successful endeavor or campaign. Right now there’s a lot of experimentation, and that will give way to defined, measurable success across the board.

 

You just wrapped up your Tech strategies for content marketing success in New York. What are some take-aways for you coming out of that event?

Brands and agencies are changing the way they work together. The content is forcing the change, but the technology is a key factor in this because the technology is what enables us to put out this much content.  We saw that people are very interested in finding technologies that help make them more effective and to create more customized customer experiences in the moment and on the right device.

We’ve done this for a few years now, but what was really interesting this year was that I actually had people come up to me and express a desire to find out how they can keep up with industry changes and developments, because they feel things are shifting so rapidly.  They certainly appreciate being able to come together with these great thinkers, and in some cases it’s just a matter of comparing notes.  Because nobody really has the right answer so it’s all about experimenting with different things to try and figure out what fits. Being able to be thought leaders to their customers and bring them best of breed technology and explain what is available is top of mind for so many people.

 

Any exciting projects that you’re working on or have upcoming that you can tell us about?

We’re just putting the finishing touches on our fall roadshow. It’s going to include Germany, the UK, New York, Dallas, Chicago and Los Angeles. So that’s going to keep us busy. We’re going to be doing similar things around what we did at the last New York event, but really taking it to the next level. We’ll be talking about how you can build out a whole execution strategy for managing this content with technology.

I just got finished up with an event in San Francisco that was put on by the Content Marketing Institute, and they’re the ones that run the Content Marketing World in Cleveland, so we’re excited to unveil the next version of censhare in Cleveland in September.

 

 

What Are the Essential Features of a DAM System?

DAM Coalition is a platform that gives professionals across the industry the ability to showcase their thoughts, experiences and knowledge with the community in a variety of ways. As such, we’re talking with those professionals about how they’ve seen digital asset management evolve and what they’re preparing for as they watch things change for people on every side of the industry.

John Price is the Product Marketing Manager for Media Management at OpenText. With more than 25 years working in digital media and broadcasting, he sees the way we collaborate as a key aspect around how people work and communicate with each other. We talked to him about people’s expectations when it comes to their DAM system, how visualization is a big part of the future in the industry and what Open Text has in store for the community later this summer. 

 

 

DAM Coalition: Tell us about your history in digital asset management. How did you get involved with DAM?

John Price: My background is in TV production during the pre-digital days. Back when analog video was still going on I worked on the technical side of production in news environments so I was directing, editing, producing and doing just about whatever needed to get done. It gave me great insight as to how the media process works. Then I moved into working with broadcast vendors in creating software to help them better manage all of the stuff they were doing. I helped them automate some of the processes that were involved in delivering their broadcast content. That evolved eventually into where I’m at with digital asset management and trying to help people manage those same processes.

Now though, instead of going out to a single broadcast channel, I’m working with people as they work to get their message out across numerous channels and in multiple formats which need to be able to be viewed on many different devices. It’s a much more dynamic system, and in a lot of ways a much more complex one as well.

 

How did that automation impact digital asset management?

In a huge way, because it allowed us to control so many more processes than we were ever able to do in the past, and that gave people the freedom to focus on more important things. As you reduce manual, repetitive tasks and increase productivity, creativity jumps. DAM has allowed more to get done in various ways for a greater amount of people.

In the broadcast world, most of the issues were caused by human error. Somebody hit the wrong button…somebody played the wrong commercial at the wrong time…somebody didn’t give the cue, etc. Those human errors can add up and they can be very costly. The whole prospect with automation was that it could reduce the amount of human intervention, which meant you could reduce the errors. The machine won’t be making those mistakes.

Of course, it gets that much more complex, because you have to configure the system, you have to create those rules and manage the exceptions, but automation continues to be a major part of almost any DAM system. The ability to take those manual and repetitive tasks off the table so your staff has more time to be more productive is an incredibly powerful concept.

 

When you’re having a conversation about what a DAM system can do for someone’s organization, do you find yourself having to temper expectations or is it more about trying to figure out what they want to accomplish?

Conversations typically go in two directions. My preferred direction is starting out with a high level strategic path where the customer or company thinks in terms of what they’re going to do with their digital media.  Most companies understand that the amount of media they’re generating is growing exponentially every year. What they don’t see is that they need to mange all of that information. Many people don’t think strategically about how they want to get from where they are today to where they want to be in the future. They aren’t sure how they’re going to go down that path.

Let’s say right now that as an organization, you have all of your assets on shared drives or on people’s computers so you can’t really find anything. So you take a step back and identify that in five years, as an organization, you want to be able to access any of the rich media you own to deliver better product to your customer. If that’s where you want to go, you have quite a path to get there. But that’s where it can get exciting, because then we can start to explore lots of different methods and ways to make that a reality. There’s no one specific way to accomplish that goal, so we can look at what’s going to be the best way for your organization in terms of the way you work now. We can maximize what you have working in order to map the path for where you need to go. If you start thinking strategically, you’ll open up new opportunities. Your whole infrastructure can be energized by something like this, because it gives more people the ability to access information they want and need.

That’s the one conversation we usually have. The other conversation takes that strategic thinking into account, but it’s focused on what exactly DAM is. When we have that conversation, it crystalizes into a couple core things that DAM needs to do for them. If it does those things well, it solves a lot of issues for the customer on a small and large scale.

For me, the whole purpose of digital asset management is to maintain control and access to your digital assets. If I’m an organization and I’m putting lots of effort and cost into creating intellectual property, whether it’s a logo or message or anything else, I want to be able to control that asset and be able to provide proper access to it. For some of those assets, I want the entire world to be able to access them so they can download and share all of that and use them however they want. Other assets I want to maintain very tight control over that only certain people can see or use them. It all boils down to control and access.

So much of it is about managing users, because I’m going to have internal users, external users, partners, agencies and all sorts of different people who are going to be contributing, consuming and modifying content. If I can create a system that allows them to easily access what they need while providing specific limitations around that access, then I’ve created a system that works for everyone. This helps the organization become more productive and also helps it grow the system. 

Say you’re a small marketing department and you just want to control your branding assets. Once you have that control and have everyone on the same page you can start looking at how you can expand that beyond marketing. Then you can pull in the product department and they can create consistent packaging. You can pull in the finance department so they can use the latest version of the logo. You can pull in whoever needs those assets.

It really boils down to the control and access features that you can find in the typical DAM system.

 

“DAM” is just one of the many acronyms that people use, sometimes interchangeably with others (PAM, MAM, ECM, EIM, CEM, etc.). Do you think we should still be saying “DAM” when we want to talk about the management and decisions surrounding the ingestion, cataloguing, storage, retrieval and distribution of digital assets? Or is it a moot point?

DAM is a convenient and useful acronym; it has critical mass that conceptually people have some idea of what it is. As you mentioned, we have all kinds of different combinations of letters but you have to have something that you can hang all of these ideas on, and it’s kind of become accepted that “DAM” is that hanger. Whether they’re documents in an ECM system or media that needs to go to a WCM, you’re managing something that’s both digital and an asset, so the term “DAM” seems to be totally appropriate.

Really though, you can look at a DAM system in whatever way you want to express the concept. And that expression will be in whatever way you want to fulfill the purpose of the DAM system.  It might be in a small department, it might be WCM, it might be ECM, it might be multiple DAM systems across your entire organization. And there are lots of people who work in all of those ways and more. But it still comes down to having these digital assets and managing them in a way that works for individuals and for the organization.

 

What sorts of people have become (to borrow a term from the DAM Guru Program) the “DAM guru” within an organization?

A lot of it springs out of a desire from an individual in an organization who figures that there must be a better way to do something. They get tired of spending four hours a day or 25 hours week just trying to find a single image they need to use for a particular campaign, and that’s without even knowing if they have the rights to it. People often want to and need to organize the chaos that’s around them. As they start to organize they look for tools that will help them do that, and they find out that a DAM system can make their lives easier in many different ways.

That’s the exciting thing, because you’re starting to see more and more organizations realize that these sorts of people are really providing a valuable service to the company as a whole. A lot of these organizations have tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of assets, and so many of the people in that organization have no idea where anything is or even what they have available.

We are starting to see more job titles and positions being created that are focused on DAM, but titles don’t do the work. People do. And people will do what is needed so the work can be expanded.

 

What’s an issue that you see come up over and over for people when they’re dealing with their DAM?

So many organizations aren’t able or willing to engage in strategic purposeful planning. Most of them just react to the immediate need or situation. They see a nail and want to immediately grab a hammer to take care of it. And to be honest, that’s how a lot of DAM vendors react. They see a problem out in the market and just try to figure out how that can be handled in their current or future version. It’s understandable because as human beings, we’re all kind of reactive by nature.

The people and organizations that I see implementing DAM and being very successful at it are those that step back and look at what they’re trying to accomplish in a very strategic way. It’s not just about hammering the nail that’s sticking up; it’s about examining what you’re nailing together. Should these things actually be nailed together? Is the nail long enough? Maybe it shouldn’t be nailed at all. The people that step back like that are able to see a lot of success, and I think it’s one of the challenges right now in the industry. We’re all out there looking for nails without realizing that maybe that’s not what we should be looking for.

You need to understand what it is you’re trying to build. Is the thing you’re putting together right now going to support what you’re trying to do within your organization?

 

What does next generation of DAM look like?

For a long time, organizations have been very text based. It’s been all about character and text, but digital assets have brought in the whole element of visualization. And the thing is, people think in terms of pictures and images. We don’t think in terms of characters and paragraphs, so if we start to communicate in this visual manner, we’re going to naturally start to work more efficiently and effectively.

At Open Text, we’re certainly looking at the visual experience for the customer. Ultimately, it becomes about providing that interactive dynamic experience that gets people’s attention. And usually that’s not with a paragraph or slogan. It’s usually with something that’s visual which also assaults the senses.

To do that, you have to have great digital assets, amazing creators making them and an effective way to manage them. Ultimately, digital asset management is moving in a direction that’s going to be much more visual. Being able to do an image search within a DAM system will have a huge impact in terms of how people think about and look for their digital assets.

The other area that I really see coming for DAM is in how we can collaborate. At the end of the day, it’s all about having a tool that helps you with your communication.  If you can provide the right tools to communicate in a more effective way, you’re going to be more successful, and it doesn’t matter whether that’s communication with clients, partners, customers or anyone else. If we’re providing a communication tool we also have to provide a communication method, and part of that method is going to be around how that communication can improve visually. So these things go hand in hand, because this visualization will ultimately impact collaboration.

 

Any exciting projects you’re working on or have upcoming that you can tell us about?

Open Text will be coming out with our HTML5 UX at the end of July, and we’ve been doing a lot of user testing around that. We’ve been talking to numerous customers and other professionals to get their input around what that user interface needs to look like and how people need to interact with these digital images. At the same time, we know that people have a great way to look at their digital assets so we wanted to look at how workflow collaboration can supercharge them in their efforts to get things done and enhance the quality of what they’re working on.

We’ve always allowed people to integrate and customize the product at a deep level, but we’ve also put in a layer of REST API’s. The restful services now allow you to create that presentation layer.  Out of the box you’ll have the presentation layer that we’ve done, but the restful API’s will give that opportunity to those sophisticated organizations that want to create their own custom user interface that meets the need of how their organization works and we can provide them with the tools to do that.    

 

 

Retail Marketing, Reinvented with DAM & CMS

Marketing for retail went from analog to digital in just a few years, and retail enterprises that were unable to adapt were quickly left behind. Today, more and more retailers are expanding their web and mobile storefronts and even moving into international distribution in an attempt to grow their sales. The retailers that are profiting from these investments are the ones that have learned how to expand their marketing reach without busting their marketing budgets.

At IO Integration, more and more of our retail clients are doing this by pairing DAM with a content management system (CMS). DAM enables them to communicate to their customers with total control over their brand’s look, feel, voice, and messaging. CMS takes things a step further by allowing them to deliver their brand content and assets in targeted marketing campaigns that reach customers in real time, on any platform or device.

When retailers can do these two things together—streamline production and delivery of marketing content while automatically adhering to brand guidelines and approved creative—they can create a customer experience that is always consistent across every touch-point and always relevant to the customer’s in-the-moment needs. In short, they can win more business by presenting a well-defined and compelling retail brand.

What’s more, they can do it all while saving money, because they’re bringing automation to every step in the marketing content process.

Their DAM eliminates the need for time-intensive, costly file searches and re-creation of missing assets. It also mitigates business risk by protecting their brands from common distribution and publishing errors, such as the publication of outdated, off-brand, or unlicensed content.

Their CMS allows them to create content once and then automatically repurpose it across devices and platforms—so they get more bang for their marketing buck.

And perhaps most importantly, their DAM and CMS together accelerate time-to-market and free marketing staff to focus more of their time on the core creative work that brings in revenue.

To learn more about CMS, download the CMS Whitepaper

Join Dave for a live webinar on June 2nd.

 

More from Dave Parker:

DAM + CMS = Powerful Content Marketing

 

As Chief Marketing Technologist for Client Solutions at IO Integration (IOI), David Parker is responsible for IOI’s content and multi-channel marketing business solutions and consulting growth in North America and the UK. An excellent general manager of c-level business & marketing technology and strategies, David excels at delivering high value innovative technologies that drive business growth in globally competitive environments. He has a unique understanding of business processes in complex matrix companies and a focus on driving change through “simplicity” for rapid technology adoption, engagement and revenue growth.

 

 

 

 

DAM + CMS = Powerful Content Marketing

Every marketing professional knows that great creative is only truly great if it’s executed well. And in today’s technology-driven marketing environment — with opportunities for brand engagement across so many new digital media channels as well as traditional channels like broadcast, print, and outdoor — execution is becoming more and more critical.

Time-to-market is also increasingly important, because if your message arrives first, you can drive the conversation and establish your brand as the most engaging player in its space.

So in the current marketing landscape, the “What makes great creative?” equation looks something like this:

Great Creative = Content + Execution + Time

 

In order to optimize the right side of this equation, you need automation. Your DAM supplies much of this automation, enabling you to efficiently organize all your creative assets and then access and distribute the specific assets you need, the moment you need them. But in order to further optimize execution and time, many marketing organizations are pairing DAM with CMS (content management solutions).

CMS automates production workflows so marketers can create content once and then deliver it in any format, for any platform or device. They can also automate localization to quickly create region- or language-specific versions of all content. Some people are wary of getting into a conversation around why a CMS makes sense for them, but there are various reasons to make the move to CMS

Without DAM and CMS automation, good content is often diluted due to poor communication and collaboration across an organization, slow or ineffective delivery across geographies, and the inability of organizations to utilize CRM data and analytics to inform solid content strategies. There’s a reason it’s the future of content marketing and that industry professionals are coming together to discover how top brands are using content marketing technologies to streamline internal processes, turn their digital assets into relevant content stories that are optimized across all marketing channels, and win the loyalty of their target customers.

By using DAM and CMS together to streamline the management, production, and delivery of creative content, marketing organizations can devote more of their resources to defining content marketing strategy up front, and then creating content that supports that strategy. They can deliver content that is truly great—more targeted, timely, and relevant than their competitors’. And they can increase awareness, engagement, and loyalty for better business results.

Download the CMS Whitepaper

Attend the NYC Soho House Event

 

As Chief Marketing Technologist for Client Solutions at IO Integration (IOI), David Parker is responsible for IOI’s content and multi-channel marketing business solutions and consulting growth in North America and the UK. An excellent general manager of c-level business & marketing technology and strategies, David excels at delivering high value innovative technologies that drive business growth in globally competitive environments. He has a unique understanding of business processes in complex matrix companies and a focus on driving change through “simplicity” for rapid technology adoption, engagement and revenue growth.

 

 

 

 

Implementing DAM for Creative Professionals

Figuring out how to manage files, metadata, and increasingly shorter time frames for the completion of a project is at the forefront of everyone’s mind these days. Much of this is due to how the media landscape has changed over the last decade, as that change has affected the challenges and opportunities that every individual and organization face on a daily basis.

MediaSilo is dedicated to helping people solve those challenges and identify the opportunities that come with them. Their free ebookHow To Implement DAM For Creative Professionals is a great example of their dedication to this very topic. It showcases how the right process can bring about a solution that will address the challenges you’re dealing with and also open up new opportunities.  

We talked with Kai Pradel, CEO of MediaSilo, about how creative professionals need to approach DAM, how the industry has changed and what people need to keep in mind when they’re looking at a digital asset management solution.

 

DAM Coalition: Your company is all about producing, storing and presenting video in an easy manner. How many people know this is something they needed help with, and how many realized that only after you started working with them?

Kai Pradel: Our conversation with a prospect rarely starts by asking “What are you doing about asset management?” All content producers have pain points that slow them down or cut productivity in the organization. These are often problems on the production side, such as sharing content for review or distributing high-res footage over the web. A good DAM platform tackles the everyday problems first, in order to reduce friction around deadlines and deliverables. The bigger picture usually forms once the DAM and its workflow tools become second nature, and the value becomes apparent in having a media repository that is universally searchable and always accessible. Forward-thinking CTOs and CIOs are well aware of the need to manage media, but most content producers only see the value once they have access to their libraries and other content.

 

Your new ebook is titled, “How to Implement DAM for Creative Professionals”. Do you think creative professionals need to or should look at DAM differently?

Yes. We think creative pro’s should choose tools that help them get things done first. They are increasingly the main decision makers behind software and service procurement. Software as a Service DAMs that are priced within the acceptable opex range are often a godsend for taxed production teams. It’s not the asset management aspect that is initially compelling to this group; it’s the low cost, on-demand nature of these productivity tools that make it easy to evaluate, and ultimately standardize, a digital media workflow. Traditional on-premise DAMs address the needs of CIOs and CTOs, such as storage strategies, security, on-premise deployment, and single sign-on. Creative pros care about these things, but no asset management system will stand a chance without first addressing daily use cases, such as online review, distribution, and secure sharing. Creative pros should first evaluate a DAM based on how well it addresses their most important needs (sharing, distribution, and review), secondly on how well the the tool will scale in their environment (user seats, storage, and storage options), and finally on whether the DAM has ways to expand beyond an off-the shelf offering.

 

How have you seen workflows change and evolve in the last few years?

We are constantly impressed by the workflow hacks we see among video pros. This audience is crafty and where there is a will, there is a way. On one hand, workflows change all the time with new camera systems and software. On the other hand, some technologies never seem to go away (like FTP). From an asset management perspective, it’s important not to dictate workflows but to allow the user to implement technology as they see fit. One of the most exciting trends currently is how tools are starting to move closer to the user’s native environment, such as the desktop and Adobe’s new custom panel offering. Another exciting development that I would have predicted much sooner is the use of metadata to automate media workflows and improve asset visibility.

 

What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve seen individuals and organizations struggle with?

Large organizations struggle with the shift in technology decision-making from central IT to the individual production teams. There may be dozens of unsanctioned SaaS products in use at the same time, including consumer-focused tools that. The lack of oversight and vetting raises security and procurement concerns that often go unaddressed. This situation is not unique to creative teams, but is part of the decentralization of software procurement in general.

For any size organization, the sheer amount of media produced poses significant challenges. Content has to be ingested, tagged, and stored somehow. There is more content being produced than can be stored, so a lot of valuable footage simply gets discarded. The systems that can cost-effectively manage content on this scale are new and still developing. Large entities who are unwilling to challenge the status quo of software procurement will have a tough time at it.

Changing business models and media consumption patterns also bring about new opportunities that networks and studios are struggling to understand and implement. Most studios sit on a wealth of archive material that collects dusts in a cave.

Smaller teams and individuals feel the pressure of doing more faster with lower budgets. Fewer people on a production means someone has to pick up the slack. Hence the need for web-based tools that can be self-provisioned to solve the “now” problem.

 

How many creative professionals factor in digital asset management when they’re working out the logistics of a project? And how can doing so change the scope and deliverables for that project?

As asset management systems are increasingly moving towards self-provision SaaS models, more creative pro’s consider them due to the low barriers to getting started.

In commercial production, asset management can be a significant revenue opportunity and can be sold as an ongoing maintenance service after production wraps. We have several customers who work for large international brands to produce product training videos, tutorials, customer testimonials, or event videos. An asset management platform that allows the agency to package content attractively–and make it available on-demand without an upfront investment–is a way to generate recurring revenue and keep clients close.

In episodic or reality tv production, asset management is gaining significant traction as a way to allow teams in different locations to collaborate more effectively. A good example of how DAM can be game changing is when you observe a team using the new MediaSilo content panel for Adobe Premiere, which immediately connects editors with footage shot in different locations. This integration enables a new kind of rough-cut workflow between editors in one place and production in another. Better connection can lead to faster turnaround and a more efficient post-production schedule.

 

What are the benefits of launching organically? And what can happen when a launch isn’t organic?

Organically-grown DAM initiatives are easy to spot, because there are internal champions who are intimately familiar with the pain points and work where the rubber meets the road. They are usually well-respected among their peers, and are willing to share best practices between groups. When we find the champion, we also find the person who will be a filter for the group at large. Having an internal champion addresses another common point of failure – decision by committee.  

Many DAM initiatives fall victim to the committee approach, where a master list of requirements is presented to DAM vendors in the hopes that someone can check all the boxes. These projects are often obsolete by the time they actually launch because in most cases, no single vendor fulfills all requirements and the project is off to a rocky start as compromises are made that inadvertently alienate certain stakeholders.

An organic launch spreads from one team to another on the basis of its success and what counts are the benefits of a given implementation.

 

Has the cloud changed the way digital asset management can and should be approached?

The cloud has removed most of the complexities around deploying and managing a DAM. There is no hardware to purchase, and in most cases there is no long-term financial commitment. Asset management shifts from a capital expenditure to an operational expense, which makes DAM is accessible to a whole new set of customers.

From our perspective, cloud-based asset management is all about increasing productivity. By encouraging proxy-based workflows where source files are not stored in the cloud but high-resolution mezzanine files are used as previews, we have have effectively lowered the barriers to entry even further for teams that have not traditionally sought out digital asset management solutions. This includes in-house promo departments and small to medium production companies.

The cloud is no longer a magical black box. DAM customers are increasingly aware of their options when it comes to running their system in the cloud. Our MediaSilo for AWS account is a good example of a product that is successful because we allow our customers to purchase the utility of our platform, while they bring their own Amazon credentials and cheap S3 and Glacier storage.

 

What’s one thing people should always keep in mind when it comes to digital asset management?

DAM is no longer about four walls. It’s about providing a secure way to allow a dispersed set of users to be productive when it comes to sharing, storing, and finding media. Vendors who don’t offer open APIs or have publicly-available integration points will become less relevant as users seek to pick their best-of breed tools and expect them to play together nicely.