Carol Thomas-Knipes

Director of Digital Asset Management - Carol Thomas-Knipes

Carol’s experience with knowing the why, who and how of digital asset management implementations has enabled her to streamline digital assets and information relevant to the audiences her DAM system serves.

What companies/organizations have you worked for as a DAM professional? What was your role at each?

I was first introduced to DAM technologies a long time ago as an Art Director at DoubleDay Direct. They rolled out a DAM to centralize product imagery, and I was one of the designers willing to bang around on it, offer feedback, and test things out. I found the whole thing really fascinating. But like so many others, building a DAM did sort of fall into my lap.

I was working for LLNS, a pharmaceutical advertising agency, and they bought a DAM to tame the creative production workflow, and provide better rights management for stock art buying terms. It was the same platform they used at Doubleday, so I let my supervisor know, and next thing I knew, it was mine. I became the System Administrator, and eventually the Creative Technology Director at LLNS, mantles I took on gladly.

I have always loved creative technologies as an early Mac adopter, and I was looking to branch out from the purely design and print worlds. At LLNS, for many years while administering the DAM, I was also a Senior Production Specialist, so I had the opportunity to define DAM workflows, procedures and configurations from the inside, knowing the expected user experience. I think it was very helpful for me to have the knowledge of how people worked to foster the change management needed and maintain system relevance. That still helps me to  this day, and is something that I think is often overlooked in technology deployments.

At LogicSource, I am the Product Manager and all around DAM/Creative & Marketing Technology Subject Matter Expert. I work with a wide range of clients in different industries, implementing DAM and other technologies to provide operational efficiency. I manage everything DAM-related, from discovery and requirements, to configuration, integrations, development, training, and rollout.

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

Know and understand, fully, why you are getting a DAM, who is going to use it, and how. Even if you are not getting a huge, expensive enterprise DAM, you need to consider the long game—especially in terms of metadata, organization and governance. I am a big fan of not trying to boil the ocean on a DAM deployment. Take it on in chunks. But always try to looks a few steps ahead. Look to what other processes and systems you may want to tie into your system and for what reasons.

DAMs are powerful tools that really can become the hub of asset information, but they are only as good as what you put into them. Don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to put every possible tag on every possible asset. You’ll never get the thing rolled out. But be mindful of what the most important asset information is, and be firm about at least getting that on your assets initially. The why, who and how will help you narrow your scope in this regard, and are crucially important to providing your best arguments when dealing with change management. Understand your audiences, and make the digital assets and info relevant to the audiences.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

So much information, so little time! Referring to my answer above, even if you don’t go nuts on asset types and metadata, overseeing a DAM is a big job because you and your team are managing “the hub.” Especially if you have integrations, and interconnecting systems. Lots of spokes, though very cool, also equals lots of spinning plates. You need to be a master air traffic controller, and that can be hard when you hit challenges in one area or another.

Also, the landscape is really changing in terms of user expectations with regard to user experience for enterprise software. People want their DAM to be as easy and slick as a mobile app or Facebook. But you’re not posting vacation pictures. It’s still enterprise software. And to that end, while trying to improve UX, we are all still trying to discern just how far the tentacles of DAM can and should go. For example, though it makes a lot of sense on paper for a WIP (work-in-progress) DAM to be your PIM (Product Information System) or eCommerce system, and a Project Management tool, and a host of other things; the ongoing question is always if it is really the best idea. And the answer to that is very individual to an enterprise.

The industry, I believe is trying to figure out where to pivot their software to become these mega-hybrids. Being practical while wading into that unknown is a delicate balance.

What is your vision for DAM? What will it look like in 5 years?

I think whether we all like it or not, DAM will be slicker, less complicated, and more connected to other systems and platforms. I think that will be a great thing, as I’ve often been frustrated with just how static these types of system can be. I also think DAM will morph into these other types of systems to become more of the information hub of a larger system that serves various needs. But at the end of the day, that information still needs to go into the system and on the files, somehow, by people with a mind for that long game. So while DAM will change, I think the need for DAM people will continue.

Be a DAM Superhero! Carol was featured in a 2013 webinar in which she provides advice for those managing digital asset management systems on their own, without large teams. View the “Be a DAM Superhero” webinar » (no signup required)


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This interview originally appeared on DAM Guru on Mon, 21 Dec 2015. For more DAM News interviews, see the interviews index page.

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