What companies/organizations have you worked for as a DAM professional? What was your role at each?
My first role as a DAM professional was in 2010 when I joined Widen Enterprises, which at the time was one of the first providers of a fully cloud-based, SaaS DAM. I was one of the first hires for a newly formed sales team focused on the digital asset management service side of the business.
What made Widen unique was that DAM was something they did for their premedia & print customers long before DAM was an industry. And because of that, my role as an advisor was to help creative teams understand what this “DAM thing” was all about, where and how it fit into their workflows, and then create the business case for leadership that has likely never heard of digital asset management.
I have since joined Orange Logic and in a very similar role. However, while there are some instances where DAM is a new concept for an organization, there are far more cases where clients have worked with one or more DAM providers, but so often hit a wall related to scalability, adaptability – supporting use cases beyond the initial department and scope. So there’s a different set of challenges I work through with customers seeking that second- or later-generation enterprise-wide DAM, which Orange Logic has been steadily, if not quietly, doing for some of the largest organizations and user-bases for more than 20 years.
How do you describe Digital Asset Management to others?
Oh I like this one – ‘Imagine you needed something, anything, from your home. You can probably visualize where that item is sitting right now, but we often misplace our own things in our own homes.
Now imagine if a friend needed something from your place while you’re away. You’re comfortable letting them go to retrieve it but this is a larger task. You’ll need to guide them a bit and you’d probably like some peace of mind knowing that they found what they needed while trusting they didn’t rearrange your furniture or give the dog a buzz cut.
Now picture this same scenario but happening in a town with dozens of buildings, hundreds of rooms, thousands of residents, and millions of items. Really imagine this as a utopia where people are happy to make items available and leave their doors unlocked for complete strangers to easily find what they need when they need it and no one is ever bothered.
Proper Digital Asset Management enables organizations to do much the same.
What’s the most important thing for someone new to DAM to understand about DAM?
For any readers who are new to DAM let me start by extending a warm ‘welcome’ to the industry, the community, and the practice of DAM.
It’s the practice of DAM that I believe is the most important thing for all to understand regardless of experience. Much the same as yoga, baking, base jumping, or any craft, your skills and expertise are developed over time.
And though failure is not flattering, it should be embraced as a learning experience for improving your practice. There’s a reason nearly every DAM industry event has sessions focused on the lessons learned. This is a community of practitioners, not perfectionists, who take pride in sharing to help others.
How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?
I was introduced to DAM as an end-user while interning at an agency. And though I read plenty of whitepapers, watched hours of webinars, and thumbed through analyst reports when I first entered the industry, I learned DAM by doing.
Having access to a system allowed me to replicate workflows, create metadata, set up user governance, and work through use cases that would come up in customer conversations or that I’d see presented at a conference or featured in a DAM Newsletter.
The doing is core to how I continue to learn DAM today.
What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?
The greatest ongoing challenge with DAM that I see is identifying where assets live and what meaningful metadata is available.
There are a lot of DAM initiatives that never take flight due to limited bandwidth to curate and/or those who can provide the best understanding of an asset’s purpose and value are not involved in the process.
We see the same when that initiative is to replace a current DAM. The processes and behaviors to ensure proper asset management from concept to ingest either evaporated over time or never existed.
“It takes a village” to be successful with DAM, and a lot of admins are tasked with being the city council, law enforcement, and utility provider.
What is your vision for DAM? What will it look like in 5 years?
I envision DAM in 5 years will be an essential strategy and revenue driver for departments across the enterprise, not just a nice-to-have, or tool to serve only creative operations, archiving/preservation and similar teams.
Today we’re seeing DAM projects that start in human resources, business affairs, and research & development, which is really exciting for the industry.
Looking back five years, it was seemingly rare to hear about DAM involving these business units beyond the common use cases for rights management and the inclusion of product information management (PIM). That has truly changed and consequently, the practice of DAM is forever evolving.
It’s likely that few if any had “NFT” as part of the DAM conversation 12 months ago. Yet here we are working with teams that are making sizable investments in NFT initiatives and at the core is an evolving DAM strategy driven by these secondary groups.
We are much closer to DAM being a multi-planetary, multiverse strategy than some might want to believe. Take for example NASA announcing this month that it successfully “holoported” a team of surgeons to the International Space Station in Oct. 2021.
That should intrigue any DAM practitioner. While some of us are still adjusting to the virtual work-life, the possibility of attending a future DAM conference hosted in a metaverse becomes more of a probability and with it will be many of the same DAM challenges you’re solving today.
What was your biggest mistake with regard to DAM?
My biggest mistake in regards to DAM would be assuming the project is complete when the initial use cases are addressed. That’s only phase 1 and why teams are often searching for a replacement DAM after just a few years. As one of our customers recently articulated: DAM isn’t a project, it’s a program. When addressed as such, the success – and retention rates speak for themselves.
What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?
My biggest success with DAM is one that is actually quite simple: the adoption and active use of a DAM by a high-net-worth individual who’s about the same age as my father and shared a similar negative sentiment when being introduced to new technology.
The DAM was initially deployed for the preservation of their legacy as a business professional and philanthropist. This type of personal DAM project was the first of its kind for me and the project leads from the customer side.
The task was to deliver a solution akin to a social media experience for family, friends, and distinguished associates to access asset collections from throughout this individual’s personal and professional life. One can imagine the tall order that came with necessary permissions across those groups and creating a user experience that was familiar and inviting.
There was no expectation that this individual would ever log in, especially with the team of assistants dedicated to such tasks. So it was quite the feeling of accomplishment seeing them upload, tag, and share assets.
If you weren’t doing DAM as a career, what would you be doing?
If not DAM, I’d be somewhere within the creative space and asset supply chain.
What more would you like to learn about DAM?
I’m curious to learn more about how organizations are thinking differently about digital asset management beyond creative operations. I find that DAM practitioners are certainly methodical but at the same time need to be scrappy and flexible in thinking about how their DAM strategy evolves to the needs of other teams.
This interview was published in DAM News on 10th May 2022. For more DAM News interviews, see the interviews index page.Share this Article: