DAM For Creative Work In Progress, Webinar, 6th December 2012

DAM conferences organise, Henry Stewart are hosting a free webinar about the challenges of using DAM for creative ‘work in progress’ on 6th December at : 9am PST, 12pm EST, 5pm UK, or 6pm Europe (note to other webinar organisers: this is the optimum time slot to get a full audience).

The session will try to address various issues with why DAM isn’t being used by creative professionals for work in progress, but often only gets employed for finalised assets.  Theses topics will be covered:

  • How to move beyond local storage and ad-hoc transfer techniques like FTP to high speed delivery.
  • How to manage content before it gets to the DAM
  • How to get it into DAM when ready for ingestion
  • Working with teams distributed across multiple locations
  • Unique problems associated with photo and video shoots
  • Providing technology to creative, non-technical people
  • Review and approval processes for mobile executives

The webinar is hosted by David Lipsey and the panellists are Aaron Holm from Industrial Color Software, David Plavin from Publicis and Megan Re from Food Network:

Many creative production teams are not working within the DAM environment. The media they work with is in transit, on location, and in flight. Problems surrounding ‘Work in Progress’ content are different from those encountered with ‘Completed Work DAM’. Novel challenges are faced by creative production teams at companies large and small. The good news is that there are solutions to the problems encountered. This Webinar will provide a real-world view of how creative production teams are solving ‘Work in Progress’ problems that traditional DAM operations do not have.” [Read More]

The ‘work in progress’ issue with DAMs seems to have got worse over the years rather than better and now it seems a lot of creative users I encounter will try to ‘get around’ their DAM rather than with it – especially in more draconian implementations that insist on everyone using the DAM for everything even when it’s not up to the task.  This is somewhat ironic for me personally as the earlier DAM systems I was involved in back in the mid-late nineties were heavily production oriented and the major criticism of them at the time was that they were obscure apps for Photoshop geeks, mac monkeys or other ‘backroom’ staff who were supposed to be neither heard nor seen.  A lot of marketing and creative managers used to treat these personnel like human digital asset managers and expect them to find assets on-demand – with results delivered on CD-ROMs etc rather than them having to use these tools (one could see why in a good number of cases).

The sea-change seems to have come in during the last 5-10 years where there is a perception that some staff costs can be saved by implementing DAM so people can find media assets themselves.  So, it would appear that by satisfying one larger group of users, another smaller group (but heavier in terms of usage) has become more alienated and that has now become a drag on productivity.

A lot of effort has been put into making the systems easier for the casual infrequent user to find something like a company logo etc as that has been where the money is in terms of buyers over the last few years.  Also, DAM systems look a lot less scary for beginners than they once did.  However, I still tend to find among those organisations that can afford a dedicated digital asset manager, they will prefer to use some desktop based tool like Lightroom to do serious cataloguing work.  Also, the range of capabilities in the majority of modern DAM systems is still relatively limited and often does not match what was available in some older (but uglier) production systems.

While there has been a big movement to use web interfaces, these still come across being fairly clunky, inflexible and less responsive (even the HTML5 ones when used with a modern browser).  There are number of products with desktop clients and all the mobile stuff seems to be leading more towards dedicated apps (albeit across 3 different flavours of OS now) but I’m with my colleague Nick Brookes about HTML and browser based apps being the real answer to all this – in the longer term.

It seems like there are two big challenges to address.  The first is the clunky user experience that seems to trade-off ease of use by slowing end users down (to the detriment of those who are in production who need to work at a faster pace to meet demanding deadlines).  The second, much bigger problem, is being able to retain one newer communion of more casual users while expanding the capabilities available for production staff who need more flexibility, performance and functionality so they can avoid falling back on tried and trusted methods like FTP to send files, emails, USB sticks and piles of external hard-drives or files in folders somewhere on the desktop of the artwork guy.

Many DAM vendors probably think they already provide a huge stack of functionality that represents dangerously good value for money for their customers and clients based on the copious time they may have already invested.  Here’s the bad news for them, they will need to provide even more to stay competitive and continue to service the needs of all users.  Given the small scale of most DAM operations, for many, it will be too much to handle and they won’t have the resources to deal with it.  In fact, as I discussed earlier this year, I don’t think any of them will really pull this trick off to offer a single product solution and the DAM market will need to fragment with different vendors heading in various destinations depending on demand.  You might also get some unlikely collaborations and acquisitions as there is a a dawning of consciousness and realisation that expedient action will be necessary to retain end users.

So, the Henry Stewart webinar looks well timed and although you might think production and work in progress doesn’t apply to your DAM use case, the reality is that it probably does, you just haven’t been told that your current DAM facility isn’t very useful for it yet.

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