DAM Guru Members Discuss The Digital Asset and Content Leadership Exchange Conference

Carol Thomas my DAM Guru Program (DGP) colleague has recently published a series of questions and answers on the DGP blog from our members who attended the Insight Exchange Network (IEN) conference ‘The Digital Assets & Content Leadership Exchange’, that took place in New York, this January:

Though this conference is a new player in the Digital Asset Management conference space, this gathering of DAM and Content professionals provided deep dive discussions on a wide range of DAM/CM-related topics, and tips on navigating change.  We have gathered a few of our DAM Gurus who attended and asked them to provide insights on the conference and how it made them think about ‘The State of DAM’” [Read More]

The conference was described as being ‘for practical strategies to enable you to keep up with the increasing complexity and quickening pace of asset management and delivery’, with topics ranging from gaining greater value from digital assets, managing rights and content licensing, through to preserving brand history, building sustainable workflows and monetizing rich metadata.

Carol posed a number of questions to DAM gurus and received back a wide range of valuable feedback and insights into the current and future state of DAM.  The members that participated are as follows:

  • Maria Shippee – Director of Business Solutions at McGarryBowen
  • Tracey Wolfe – Senior Content Classification Specialist at McGraw-Hill Education
  • Margie Foster – Digital Asset Management Librarian at Dell
  • Erin McElrath – Digital Asset Manager and Consultant
  • Mindy Carner – Senior Manager in Information Management with metadata and taxonomy specialty at Optimity Advisor
  • Jennifer Anna – Photo and Digital Asset Manager, World Wildlife Fund

The first question, “What topics are hot, garnering the most interest and discussion”, garnered broad responses.  Tracey Wolfe replied:

Metrics for DAM, rights management, the importance of DAM experts running DAM systems” [Read More]

Others explained that the conference was an excellent opportunity for DAM professionals to learn about how other organisations used their DAM and the ubiquitous issue of AI integration and how it might affect the industry.  When asked what was talked about between conference events, Erin McElrath tuned into the diversity of jobs involved in the DAM industry:

I mostly noticed how different our jobs are. Even though we are all considered DAM in some capacity, we all do different projects in our day-to-day. Some of us implement, others create workflows, others just focus on metadata and taxonomy, and others do everything.” [Read More]

The gurus were asked where they saw the lines between technologies and solutions blurring, which provided some very insightful comments:

“I think that I see the lines between DAM and CM blurring the most.  I think that anything should be considered an “asset,” not just traditional resources like images and videos or documents, but also pieces of content whether they are articles or chapters or sections or lessons or assessment questions.” – Tracey Wolfe [Read More]

The focus on integration between DAM and Content Management was also noted by Margie Foster as being the most common, but she also drew attention to the fact that DAM and PIM (Product Information Management) solutions are still somewhat rare.  The general consensus here was that although progress is being made, future DAM set-ups need to be ‘solution-agnostic’ with greater focus being given to integration. Jennifer Anna responded:

“At the conference, I didn’t see many examples of system integrations except among a few large broadcast and publishing companies.  My impression is companies are still struggling to make sense of their stand-alone systems. During the panel discussion, I asked a panellist who is responsible for providing solutions to a variety of different clients about whether there is CMS-DAM integration. She noted it was rare.”  [Read More]

The next question, “Did the conference give you ideas on how DAM is evolving?” was asked in light of the idea that the traditional role of DAM is on the decline.  Tracey Wolfe reinforced her belief that the definition of an asset needs to expand:

“I would say that DAM is expanding scope, not dying.  I do think there is room for growth to incorporate aspects like the expansion of the definition of an asset, tools for automation, and also better reporting and metrics.”  [Read More]

Erin McElrath remarked that although DAM is evolving, she noticed that DAM managers were “hesitant to adapt”.  Jennifer Anna felt that the conference could have delved deeper into the topic it would have been helpful to include observations from specialists working in the industry.

Next on the list was “What did you leave the conference thinking the next big thing in DAM will be”.  While a couple of gurus mentioned that AI was the hot topic, other responses predicted an overhaul in workflow, a necessity for DAM systems to adapt by supporting new formats and leveraging the benefits of Linked Data.  Mindy Carner drew attention to the needs of major media companies:

System vendors will be forced to innovate to support major media companies, specifically sports organizations who create and must process terabytes of data in a single day. Systems right now aren’t meeting their needs and this will inevitably lead to disruption of those vendors that currently support these groups. Systems need to be nimble and able to handle the quantity and speed of content processing.”  [Read More]

The final question asked was what surprised gurus most about the conference.  The overall sentiment was that the IEN event was a success and the fact that the majority of attendees were DAM managers and professionals (as opposed to vendors) resulted in a more personal and expertise-based event.

It is interesting to contrast the feedback about IEN with Henry Stewart events (which are obviously more widely known about within the DAM market).  Due to work pressures, I am not usually a regular visitor to their exhibitions (something I am planning to change this year) but the perception that I have from those who discuss them with me privately is that they sometimes feel like there are a few too many sales people circling around the place ‘like sharks looking for prey’.  Another opinion I have heard expressed is that they have too much of a ‘rock star’ focus on certain keynotes, rather than more more in-depth operational discussions about getting useful results out of an investment into DAM solutions.

Having spoken to some representatives from Henry Stewart recently and listened to a few other opinions, these perspectives might not always be entirely fair ones and I know they do employ a variety of methods to try to get more end users to both attend and deliver presentations themselves.  The feeling that they can seem ‘like a zoo’ (to use one description I have heard about the New York show) does seem to resonate with a number of people, however.  I should make it clear also that there are a great number of attendees of their events who believe they do offer great value, so it is important to maintain a balanced perspective.

To an extent, the IEN event has maybe benefited from having a novelty value due to the lack of alternatives since the demise of the Createasphere DAM conferences a few years ago.  Since a number of vendors maybe thought not many DAM users would attend IEN, they haven’t considered it worthwhile to send anyone.  As such, subsequent conferences might attract far more interest from more sell-side  interests, with the result that some of the intimacy is likely to get lost.

One option which I have heard suggested to limit the risk of these turning into DAM software sales conventions is to require vendors to be exhibitors in order to attend as I gather a few firms will send one or two staff as a cheaper alternative to having a stand.  I don’t know how practical that really is, however (especially having to turn down prospective visitors solely on the basis of who their employer is) and not everyone who goes there from a vendor goes there to sell product, a good number do go to learn themselves.  Further, these events cost a lot of money to put on and the people who organise them are commercial entities, like any other.

With all that said, Henry Stewart might want to consider some of the feedback and comments made about the IEN events by DAM Guru members and think about what lessons they could learn from them.  While competition for attendees might not be entirely welcome, it does provide them an opportunity to re-evaluate their offer and enhance it.  As is the case with DAM software solutions, the biggest risk for them is people not bothering to go to any of the conferences because they think they are all a waste of time and money, rather than that they might pick one option over another.

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