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Henry Stewart DAM NY 2019 Attendee Feedback

This special feature article was compiled by DAM News editor, Ralph Windsor.

As most DAM News readers will be aware, the Henry Stewart DAM New York conference was held earlier this month from 2nd-3rd May 2019.  While at the event, I asked a number of attendees about their opinions of the show in addition to some other wider topical Digital Asset Management discussion points.  Those who participated are listed below:

Each of the responses is given below (where one was offered to the question I posed).

 

What were the most useful insights you gained from the Henry Stewart New York conference this year?

Oksana Dersovitz

This year I focused on attending sessions on Change Management and User Adoption. My biggest takeway was to re-engage an executive sponsor of the DAM program to communicate changes and encourage adoption. Oftentimes, implementation and process decisions are driven by a small number of power users and developers. Who communicates major changes makes a huge difference in broader user engagement and software adoption.

Lisa Grimm

I was really pleased to see that the trend has moved from ‘AI will save us’ (you can equally swap in ‘blockchain’ or ‘machine learning’ for AI) to ‘let’s really figure out what we *can* automate and how with these tools’ – while we still aren’t there yet across the board, I do believe it’s progress to see more people recognize that the tools are only as smart as the people building and operating them.

Ian Matzen

The need for DAM is strong. We face many of the same of the same challenges: lack of senior management support, the need for broader system integration, and a strong need for resources to enrich record metadata.

Christie Hartmann

Too many to count, honestly. This was my first DAM conference and I felt it offered such a wide variety of topics that no matter what stage of DAM implementation you were in, there was something to be gained. In particular, I learned a lot about the importance of governance and how important it can be to the successful implementation of a new DAM, which admittedly wasn’t really on my radar before the conference.

 

What DAM-related subjects are currently the most interesting for you and was that reflected at Henry Stewart New York?

Oksana Dersovitz

Digital Rights Management and User Adoption are my most pressing concerns today. I would love to hear from other DAM Program managers about DRM strategies that measurably mitigate risk around content licensing and improper use of assets.

Lisa Grimm

I’m always Team Metadata and that is, of course, well-represented, but I also appreciated the focus on rights management and the challenges of working in regulated industries; having managed a global DAM program in pharma, I know that pain, and it was good to hear that some broader solutions and standards are starting to come from those implementations.

Ian Matzen

The most interesting DAM-related subjects for me were Artificial Intelligence (is it feasible), business systems integration (how to make a business case) and DAM advocacy in the workplace. All of these subjects were covered in some form or another.

Spencer Harris

Artificial Intelligence (not as much), Digital Rights Management (yes – but unable to attend all sessions), Driving User Adoption (not as much), Implementation Best Practices (not as much).

Christie Hartmann

Metadata, taxonomy and governance were probably the most valuable takeaways from Henry Stewart New York. However I think that if I come back 6 months or even a year from now there will be other more relevant DAM-related subjects as I progress further on my DAM journey.

James Gabele

Right Management and integrations. Continual governance.

Kevin Gepford

I’m most interested in the activity surrounding DAM — upstream it’s about the process and technology for how assets get created and approved, and downstream it is about how they get distributed, such as formatting and publishing in social media.

 

Which session did you find most useful?

Lisa Grimm

Jennifer Ciwok and Iris Lee from the American Museum of Natural History gave a great presentation on their usage of linked data in their DAM and allied systems; not only was it visually compelling – a story well told – but it was a great reminder that a lot of the innovation we do see in DAM is in the cultural heritage space, and often on relatively-tight budgets. There is some great work being done in those spaces that could be adopted by larger organizations with deeper pockets.

Ian Matzen

The most useful session was named “Where DAM and Rights Intersect.” The panelists’ candid answers included details that resonated with some of the challenges I face at work.

Spencer Harris

The DAM Bake-off is a great way for prospective DAM customers to see a side-by-side comparison of multiple platforms under the same use case. This creates a more accurate comparison experience.

Christie Hartmann

Hard to pick just one. I found the taxonomy and metadata tutorial that I attended invaluable. In terms of regular sessions the day two metadata track sessions were extremely helpful and “Where DAM and Rights Intersect” was very pertinent to the work I am currently doing. I was also blown away by Laura Dawson’s session on Global Localization. The work she is doing is in no way related to the work that I do, but hearing about her unique challenges was eye opening.

 

Do you think the value of Digital Asset Management (both as a practice and a technology) is fully understood by senior managers? If not, what would help demonstrate it more effectively?

Lisa Grimm

I do think the needle is moving, but it’s still slower than it should be. I think if those senior leaders saw more connections between DAM and their existing work, the value would be a lot clearer to them – we need more storytelling from those who have been there in the right forums. There’s a huge opportunity to get DAM into other industries and verticals that has barely been explored, and seeing more of those case studies and presentations would help drive adoption.

Ian Matzen

DAM is often taken for granted by senior managers and sometimes misunderstood. It is the the job of whoever “owns” the DAM system or digital content to advocate for the management of digital assets. This must be done clearly by communicating what they are doing (or need to do) and the value this work has to the company.

Christie Hartmann

Absolutely not. It is something my team is currently struggling with internally. I think hearing about similar challenges and how they have been addressed is helpful, I only wish I could send my entire organization to DAM NY!

Kevin Gepford

I feel the best arguments are based on data, or perhaps the interpretation of data. The best arguments focus on Benefits — the Value — and not Features of the system. Any senior leader would love to hear about genuine benefits to the business as a result of technology — not just DAM. If the system can improve time-to-market, or reduce costs, or improve quality, all of these things will help them understand how a certain technology will help move the business forward.

 

This year there were more vendors exhibiting than there have been previously and panels led by DAM consultants. Is the sell-side of DAM over-represented at Henry Stewart New York?

Oksana Dersovitz

Yes, I think it is.

Lisa Grimm

I think the community is still so relatively small, and there is so much movement of skilled people across those different parts of the DAM universe, that it’s not really over-representation of one side or another; rather, it’s what sort of stories they are looking to tell. A vendor working in partnership with their client can present a compelling vision of how DAM has helped their organization, but it needs to be a true case study showcasing how the technology really solved the client problem, and how they intend to work together in future; vendors simply staffing a booth and having great swag isn’t the way forward (though I actually saw less of that this year as we’ve seen more consolidation).

Ian Matzen

I can guess at why Henry Stewart invites vendors to their conferences and why vendors go to them. What I would like to see less of is being stopped each time I walk through the vendor hall and asked about what system I administrate, how that system falls short of my needs, and how their system will fulfill all of my needs. Further, I am unhappy that vendors will use my professional contact information (provided by the conference organizers?) to cold call me. Generally speaking, I avoid conference sessions that are hosted by a DAM system vendor representative.

Spencer Harris

There are a lot of vendors that are competing for the same customer with very similar features. There isn’t a lot of diversity when it comes to features or functionality between vendors. I will say that I have noticed that there are few vendors promoting to AEC industry (Architecture, Engineering & Construction).

Christie Hartmann

Since we have already selected a DAM the vendor side of the conference was less valuable to my team.  I think it would still be valuable to teams that are still searching for the right DAM or related tools.

James Gabele

It is part of the conference business and event planning. The conference needs vendors and consultants to sponsor the event to lower the cost of DAM Practitioner tickets and to make the profit.

Also, there is a revolving door of practitioners (e.g. DAM Managers, DAM Librarians), consultants and those whom work for vendors. Several consultants may become DAM Managers and vice versa. (Many attendees know a few people within their network whom made the switch a few times.) The revolving door is a healthy sign that there are more careers options within the DAM industry.

Kevin Gepford

The sell-side of DAM is not yet over-represented, but it’s edging closer. I believe there’s true value to hearing from vendors and consultants — especially if Henry Stewart was able to figure out how to enable attendees to more clearly discern the value proposition of vendors. Each vendor is trying to establish themselves as unique and superior, and they intentionally make it hard to do direct comparisons with competitors. I’ve seen a certain fear among attendees about talking to vendors, almost like they’re afraid of being jumped.

 

Some commentators have suggested there is an impending DAM crisis because of a lack of skilled human Digital Asset Managers and an excessive emphasis on DAM technology.  Do you agree with that proposition?

Lisa Grimm

There are a lot of great, highly-skilled DAM people out there, but many organizations aren’t willing to pay them what they can command in other tech-related fields. If there’s a crisis, it’s down to refusing to invest in people, and I have certainly seen that play out in previous jobs: there was a willingness to sink millions into a poorly-vetted technology, but not to fund full-time staff to run it.

There is also a major gap in the industry in that there’s no boutique recruitment, nor even an arm of a larger recruiting organization, that focuses specifically on DAM professionals, yet we saw from the interest in the career forum that a lot of highly-qualified people are looking to make their next career steps. There needs to be some more formal matchmaking; so many roles are simply filled by word-of-mouth. The people are out there, they just need to be paid appropriately to get and keep them.

Spencer Harris

I partially agree with the proposition.  As of now in the US there is no formal DAM training resource other than on the job experience. A lot of DAM managers become such simply by having the responsibility put on them by their managers. The other challenge with this is that give the scarcity of skilled individuals in this area of business the average salary based on the recent DAM salary survey is too low. Companies aren’t paying what is appropriate for the role/responsibility, especially when it involves overseeing a team of staff.

Christie Hartmann

I’m not sure if it’s lack of Digital Asset Mangers or lack of support from organizations. Many companies are willing to take the leap and purchase new DAM software but because of the high fees seem less likely to hire the necessary professional staff to support and manage it. Many companies rely on just one or two people which makes it a real uphill battle to successful implementation.

James Gabele

The crisis is not due to the emphasis on technology. The main reasons are lack of education, lack of awareness and career advancement.

Lack of education and awareness are problems. Many in the DAM industry entered DAM by accident and never formally studied it. We were taught about DAM through on the job training. There are also a large number of people serving as DAM Managers whom are probably not even aware of the wider industry. Providing DAM education resources outside of the conferences to students and professionals will help. For example, internships are an excellent way to introduce people into DAM. Those unaware they are practicing DAM – and not using DAM technology to manage their assets – would benefit from interacting with the DAM community. We need find better search terms for those outside of the DAM community to locate us.

The other problem is career advancement. Most companies do not have C-level or VP level DAM positions. Usually the highest level DAM position is at the Director or Manager level. As a result, there is competition for those few VP and C-level DAM spots, however there are plenty of higher level marketing IT positions. Talented DAM Managers may seek better positions in which DAM is only a small part of their job because they must manage other parts of marketing and communications to advance in their careers. The best way to mitigate the career advancement talent drain is for those advancing in their careers to pass their knowledge to others, however the career advancement drain has a silver lining – DAM Managers advancing into senior management will help grow a better understanding of DAM within their organization.

Kevin Gepford

No. I don’t feel that the winds are blowing away from the human element. DAM is a tool that serves human interests, and it is deployed and maintained by humans. Nobody thinks this is going to go on autopilot, or that the AI-bots are really ready to take away our jobs.

I can’t really speak to whether or not there are enough qualified Digital Asset Managers.

 

What topics would you like to see discussed in greater depth by the DAM community?

Lisa Grimm

I’d love to see more real-life stories about master data management and around the intersection of DAM and content strategy; there’s a lot of overlap that isn’t really explored.

Ian Matzen

As a community of DAM professionals we can benefit from establishing a list of skills that we must all possess (and that employers should expect) and a set of standards/best practices that can be applied regardless of the DAM system we use.

Christie Hartmann

I thought there was a great balance of topics at Henry Stewart DAM NY, granted this was my first time attending.

Kevin Gepford

Case studies I love. I always want to know how people solved their problem. I learn to think by hearing how others did it. I don’t love one-dimensional show-an-tell presentations.

 

How do you see DAM developing over the next few years based on both what you know from your own experience and what you learned at this event?

Lisa Grimm

I expect more automation, but also an understanding that you need expert human judgement to validate and evolve that automation.

Ian Matzen

There is a greater interest in digital asset management, as shown by the greater number of attendees this year than two years ago, when I last attended. I am somewhat concerned, however, that DAM as a field is losing some of its definition: can it be about managing ANY digital bitstream in ANY field using ANY information management system? Some may answer “yes,” though how one approaches each variation can be significant and, in some cases, may already have been solved by other professionals (I’m looking at you Knowledge Management experts!).

Spencer Harris

I foresee many Lite DAMs trying to enter the space and might make as a good introduction to DAM for customers, but will be platforms that companies will quickly move off of due to lack of functionality or configurability.

Christie Hartmann

Hard to predict. I just hope that organizations start to see the value of DAM and the critical role that DAM professionals play in the success of their organizations.

James Gabele

1. More lite tier DAM systems will appear and disappear since the cost of entry is easy, however to cost to maintain the lite tier DAM will be the eventual headache for most lite tier DAM vendors.
2. We may see a consolidation of the mid-tier DAMs at some point especially if a mid-tier DAM vendor acquires a declining mid-tier DAM competitor for the declining mid-tier DAM’s customer list.
3. Other part Martech will become more involved in the DAM.
4. The DAM community will become more aware of how DAM is applied outside of the marketing and creative departments. Several consultants and vendors are aware of the AEC space and how those business leverage DAM differently. Likewise, several companies leverage DAMs to track maintenance for infrastructure power lines, pipes, heavy machinery, railroad tracks, pipelines, dams, etc. I am looking forward to seeing a panel of engineers present their DAM case studies on a Henry Stewart DAM Panel.

Kevin Gepford

I think it’s going to move upstream and downstream, to capture the creation process, as well as more maturation into the various scenarios for how digital assets are deployed. I don’t think they’re just going to sit in the DAM waiting for someone to search for them. Instead, it will be more active. Also, I believe we will see greater configuration of DAM systems, as vendors work to appeal to more types of customers.

 

What was your overall experience of Henry Stewart and would you go again?

Oksana Dersovitz

This was my third year attending the HSE DAM NY event. I appreciate having met many players in the DAM space in the first year and then seeing them again at subsequent events. Catching up, sharing experiences and learning from each other provides tangible value. My feedback on the session structure would be to allow more time for meetings and exhibitor visits. I find myself running from one session to another without any time to network or meet new people. I am looking forward to attending DAM NY 2020.

Lisa Grimm

As per usual, the tea game was strong, things were incredibly well-organized and there were great sessions – it’s still the linchpin of my conference calendar because I learn something new each time. Can’t wait to see everyone again in San Diego…

Ian Matzen

My overall experience of the 2019 Henry Stewart DAM Conference New York was positive and I would like to attend again in the future.

Christie Hartmann

I thought it was so helpful and I would absolutely attend in the future

James Gabele

It is an excellent experience to network with other DAM Managers and consultants. I look forward to attending the next conference.

Kevin Gepford

HS is a very valuable experience and each year it continues to get better. The best thing they ever did was create the Creative Operations track which I think is bringing a new and vital energy to the DAM event.

 


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