Mark Davey

Mark Davey

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

I started my DAM journey as a user of DAM systems while working at an advertising and marketing agency; the first project was a massive success for our print enabled clients. As the internet started to take shape, I could see the potential for DAM with the same print assets transformed into digital assets as we began to build websites for clients. I saw an opportunity to expand our services and had my first taste of metadata. Since then, I have worked with over 100 companies in various roles and as a consultant for DAM strategy, vendor analyst and lately more hands-on with data models and meta-profiling of users for clients.

How do you describe Digital Asset Management to others?

I try to frame the complexity of DAM using the analogy of Google. It is easy to find the things you are looking for when searching for content, knowledge, concepts and ideas. However, to make this work takes data and a deep understanding of the client’s needs behind the firewall. DAM, I explain, is a metadata engine that drives search and findability; once the content is findable and searchable using data such as taxonomies, controlled vocabularies and industry standards around metadata.

DAM helps transform and transcode content, and the user knows their rights with the content. At some stage, people usually ask what this metadata thing is? And that is a very long conversation for the uninitiated.

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

DAM is a marathon, not a sprint. If you start with vendor research first, you will be in for a whole heap of pain later in your journey. The most important aspect of getting DAM right is understanding where your organisation sits in terms of preparedness – seeking to understand internal capability, gaps, resources, use cases, requirements, and most importantly, governance, way before talking to vendors.

A lack of preparedness is the single most significant reason for DAM strategies to fail, even if the client has the right vendor.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

Back in the day, I jumped into DAM with little to no knowledge, skills or experience whatsoever. Fortunately, it was a single-focused project within a marketing silo and a single print channel. We made mistakes, but overall we hit our deadline. As the internet began to take off, I started to see the potential power of DAM for digital workflows but could find little information other than vendor sales pitches. I began to search for insights on the industry, blogging about my findings by sharing aggregated knowledge. Over time I connected with thought leaders in the space, read their books, and as my knowledge increased, I saw a lack of standards and best practices.

After a few years of aggregating the knowledge and finding the network, I founded a not-for-profit think tank called the DAM Foundation, explicitly looking at standards and best practices. One of our first initiatives was launching the DAM maturity model. Companies could benchmark themselves across people, processes, information and systems. Since then, some 3000 plus companies have downloaded the model to benchmark their internal capabilities.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

One of the most significant challenges is educating stakeholders about digital asset management capabilities and how vital governance is across the whole life cycle of content. That governance is the data model that drives end-user preparedness, and metadata is the force multiplier for getting it right. That journey continues today and has become even more critical over time as the reach and scope of DAM continues to harness digital initiatives, campaigns and knowledge transfer.

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

I see DAM playing a pivotal role within master data management, ontologies and knowledge graphs. Content is the touchy-feely end of the human interaction with data. Harnessing metadata from this aspect can yield significant insights and analysis as a data lake for MDM strategies.

Similarly, with the rise of semantic search engine optimisation, I see assets turning into entities, for want of a better word, more intelligent, more imaginative content working with personal assistance with artificial intelligence driving interactions and engagement.

I am also starting to see more DAM related interest within the blockchain, smart contracts, crypto monetisation with NFT’s growth markets. The advent of the metaverse and virtual spaces will also see a heavier focus on virtual reality and augmented reality assets harnessed within DAM systems and new players into the decentralised worlds these new technologies bring. More specifically, the opportunities within DAM from rights and governance perspective. And of course, the data models around these new channels will also be critical.

DAM blockchains are on the horizon, which is an ample opportunity for the industry and its clients over the coming years.

What was your biggest mistake with regard to DAM?

There are several personal mistakes I have made over the years. Trusting vendor roadmaps was a big learning curve; a lack of understanding of the nuances between customisation and configuration and vendor vapourware have all played a part.

What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?

Many of the people I have worked with as clients are now consultants within the DAM space and they continue to help their clients. I feel I have been a part of the education process and have always brought a sense of excitement and a future vision that has inspired them in some way, this approach continues today and keeps DAM interesting as a career for me.

If you weren’t doing DAM as a career, what would you be doing?

I would be a professional poker player in another life :-)

Mark Davey is Founder of Codified DAM Consultant You can connect with him on LinkedIn


This interview was published in DAM News on 10th November 2021. For more DAM News interviews, see the interviews index page.

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