On Choosing Your DAM Consultant

I’ve worked in the DAM space since around 1996 – long before the term DAM or even MAM was coined. I loved and still love to help clients to make a sense of the technical, organisational and legal challenges of handling media assets, creating value and ensuring that content, stories, emotions can be shared, communicated, and set in place.

DAM has come a long way – databases for media content have started as pure systems for media companies.

News, agencies, editors, the occasional photographer. At that time, even FileMaker Pro solutions were prevalent – as were simple catalogs with a pure, text-based slide catalogue: some keywords, a slide number, which drawer or cabinet the slides resides in.

What part of DAM – Digital Asset Management has come a long way?

Digital Media has come a long way. Remember drum scanners? Slide scanners? Waiting up to 90 seconds for a slide to scan in a Nikon desktop slide scanner with automatic feed? Remember the batch of 50 files named up to “Unnamed File (#49)”? Remember the first digital SLR being a really big deal? The IBM microdrive – a thick CF card with a spinning hard drive inside it (I still have the 1 Gig version sitting on my desk).

Digital media has evolved in a infuriating speed, twenty-two years where resolutions have exponentially grown on a regular basis: Doubling the resolution of a screen, CMOS or CCD sensor isn’t even big news now.

How has the management part evolved?

The output of assets (files) per time created has exploded, mostly because the availability of devices that now can take a photo or video is now ubiquitous. <i>The Best Camera Is The One That’s With You</i> – the title of a book from Chase Jarvis, containing photos taken only with his iPhone – perfectly illustrates how prevalent cameras are today, and that’s one reason why the amount of “available media” has skyrocketed.

Available media – photos, videos, audio recordings that can be shared, referenced, used, curated – that is why the Management in DAM is really challenged. Making media available was a significant effort 10 years ago. You chose which photos to upload into a dedicated database, creating a scan, retouching it, compressing the file, uploading it – that was a major project. Think before you shoot, be selective in what you scan, check what you upload.

Today, every image is synched to the cloud, apps help curate stories – a timeline of media assets made available in seconds. Mature DAM vendors have evolved their solution or suites along. Along sometimes clients they accompanied for ten or in some cases 20 years, they have stayed purpose driven. The purpose of DAM for any organisation is to create the most value of digital asset as possible and then stay out of the way.

While individual users might argue that an approval process isn’t exactly “staying out of the way” – for the organisation it is a necessity to ensure that value is sustainable.

Same goes for tediously crafted mandatory metadata, where on might argue that’s way over the top for just the web page illustration. Again, the purpose is to create most value over the lifetime of the asset and not single-use. These DAM solutions have matured to a point where sharing, enabling, integrating, fitting, transcoding, have evolved up to the point where a DAM itself provides CDN capabilities.

So is it all ponies and rainbows now?

Unfortunately, in a lot of conversations with enterprise clients, I have learned that there is a huge maturity gap. And it’s neither the vault of vendors and their product’s capabilities of their products, nor a lack of interest or budget of clients to get beyond the obvious. I offer that it’s a lack of maturity in DAM consultants.

Consultants divide mainly in two categories: The experienced old dog who use wash-rinse-repeat approaches that have been successful in their first gigs. Old dog, same trick.

The other is the fresh, domain-driven consultant that is, too often, coming to DAM from an adjacent angle, be it SEO, product and e-commerce, social media, apps – and are more or less ignorant to the whole rest of the DAM potential or the value cycle of a digital asset.

Both types are either implementation driven, repeating a specific integration, or help their clients with a vendor selection process. When you chose a consultant, or a consultant choses you, decide wether you are perfectly clear on what your immediate goals are and what your asset roadmap is – before you decide who should help you along the way.

Kai Strieder

Why DAM Implementation and Run is Not a Project

John Horodyski, an Executive with Optimity Advisors, has written a thoughtful article for CMSWire on why DAM implementation and run is an ongoing process, not a project. He states cogently:

One of the most common questions I receive is how to manage a digital asset management system. This details everything from how to create the business case, to securing executive buy-in and financial support, to building the right team, deployment, roadmap and more. There is much to do, and it takes time. Many foundational layers will clamor for your attention as you prepare the roadmap of work.

More importantly, most of these structures need to be reviewed and discussed well before any technology has been purchased, let alone considered.

Technology should never lead the decision-making process for DAM demands — the business sets the foundation for the strategy first. Technology is incredibly important, and the vendor review and selection process are a critical step in all this, but that step must follow the business requirements and digital strategy. You need to know what you want to do: the purpose.

Once you know what you want to do, then everything else is spent working towards that goal because you know what you want to achieve. Never lose sight of that goal.

Well worth reading, at: https://www.cmswire.com/digital-asset-management/how-do-you-manage-your-dam/

“Navigating the DAM Divide” by Real Story Group

Way back on Oct. 29, Real Story Group, a vendor evaluations company, published an interesting article and graphic on the various DAM landscape forms, dividing vendors up into four categories;

Complex, Legacy Complex, Mid-Range and Simpler.

Real Story Group Vendor Logo Landscape

It is a useful framework for input on which DAM vendors might be most suitable for consideration in your initial DAM discovery process for your enterprise.  More at:

https://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/3287-Navigating-the-DAM-Divide

 

The Journal of Digital Media Management

Here’s a goodie you should get, by the estimable Henry Stewart Publications division:

The Journal of Digital Media Management:

The Journal of Digital Media Management is the essential peer-reviewed, professional journal for all those involved in the capture, storage and effective application of digital media assets.

Each quarterly 100-page issue publishes in-depth articles, real world case studies and reviews written by some of the leading experts in the field

On Choosing a DAM Consultant

by Kai Strieder

I’ve been working in the DAM space since around 1996 – long before the term DAM or even MAM was coined. I loved and still love to help clients to make a sense of the technical, organisational and legal challenges of handling media assets, creating value and ensuring that content, stories, emotions can be shared, communicated, and set in place.

DAM has come a long way – databases for media content have started as pure systems for media companies.

News, agencies, editors, the occasional photographer. At that time even FileMaker solutions were prevalent – as were simple catalogs with a pure text-based slide catalogue: some keywords, a slide number, the drawer or cabinet where the slide resides.

What part of DAM – Digital Asset Management has come a long way?

Digital Media has come a long way. Remember drum scanners? Slide scanners? Waiting up to 90 seconds for a slide to scan in a Nikon desktop slide scanner with automatic feed? Remember the batch of 50 files named up to “Unnamed File (#49)”?
Remember the first digital SLR being a really big deal? The IBM micro-drive — a thick CF card with a spinning hard drive inside it? (I still have the 1 Gig version sitting on my desk).

Digital media has evolved in a infuriating speed: 22 years where resolutions have exponentially grown on a regular basis. Doubling the resolution of a screen, CMOS or CCD sensor isn’t even big news now.

How has the management part evolved?

The output of assets — files — over enormously over time, mostly because the availability of devices that now can take a photo or video is now ubiquitous. “The Best Camera Is The One That’s With You” is the title of a book from Chase Jarvis, containing photos taken only with his iPhone. It perfectly illustrates how prevalent today cameras are and that’s one of the points why the amount of “available media” has skyrocketed.

Available media – photos, videos, audio recordings that can be shared, referenced, used, curated – that is why the Management in DAM is really challenged. Making media available was a significant effort 10 years ago. You chose which photos to upload into a dedicated database, creating a scan, retouched it, compressing the file, uploaded it – that was a major project. Think before you shoot, be selective in what you scan, check what you upload.

Today, every shot is synched into the cloud, apps help to curate stories – a timeline of media assets made available in seconds.

Mature DAM vendors have evolved their solution or suites along. Alongside clients they accompanied for ten or even 20 years, they have stayed focused. The purpose of DAM for any organisation is to create the most value from a digital asset and then stay out of the way.

While individual users might argue that an approval process isn’t exactly “staying out of the way” – for the organisation it is a necessity to ensure that value is sustainable.

Same goes for tediously crafted mandatory metadata, where on might argue that’s way over the top for just the web page illustration. Again, the purpose is to create most value over the lifetime of the asset and reduce single-use cases. These DAM solutions have matured to a point where sharing, enabling, integrating, fitting, transcoding, have evolved up to the point where a DAM itself provides CDN capabilities.

So is it all ponies and rainbows now?

Unfortunately, in a lot of conversations with enterprise clients, I have learned that there is a huge maturity gap. And it’s neither the vault of vendors and the capabilities of their products, nor a lack of interest (read: budget) of clients to get beyond the obvious.

It’s a lack of maturity in DAM consultants.

DAM Consultants can mostly be divided into two categories:

The experienced old dogs whose rinse-repeat approaches that have been successful the first gigs. Old dogs, new tricks – you get the point.

The fresh domain-driven consultants that usually are coming to DAM from an adjacent angle, be it SEO, product and e-commerce, social media, apps — and are more or less ignorant to the whole rest of the DAM potential or the value cycle of a digital asset.

Both types are either implementation-driven (read: rinse-and-repeat a specific integration), or vendor-selection process, helping their clients navigate the path to the best tool.

When you chose a consultant, or a consultant choses you, decide wether you are perfectly clear on what your immediate goals and criteria for success are, and what your asset roadmap is – before you decide who should help you along the way.

Kai Strieder

DAM Update, October 19, 2018 – DAM Horror Stories, Managed Services Webinars

Henry Stewart Events is hosting a Webinar on October 31, titled, amusingly enough, Is Your DAM a Horror Show? 6 Scary Signs To Watch Out For

Registration: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2416511447133860355

It’s spooky. It’s scary. It’s … the haunted house DAM: full of dead assets buried in unfindable nooks and crannies, terrifying time wasters, and pits of quicksand where good intentions get swallowed by broken processes and vendor lock-in.

What lurks in the heart of your digital asset management system? In this Halloween webinar, join Uri Kogan of Nuxeo to learn the signs that your DAM may not make it to the end credits — and what you can do about it. We’ll use examples from real case studies at top media, entertainment, and CPG enterprise companies, where teams found themselves living real-life DAM nightmares.

You’ll learn:

• How lumbering “FrankenDAMs” arise — and why they’re slowing your teams down
• Tips for escaping the DAM “value trap” that locks you into legacy systems
• Why some DAMs turn from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde when your processes change
• …And why the scariest part of your DAM may be what you’re not seeing.

Join this Henry Stewart webinar this Halloween to shine a light on the dark corners of DAM.

And on October 24, a webinar on Managed Services. I’ve run Managed Services for a wide variety of customers in a variety of industries for more than a decade, including magazine and web publishing, car manufacturing, finance, and some diversified global giants, and I’m not sure a managed service provider is always acting in a client’s best interest unless the contract and SLAs are highly detailed, created by very experienced people.

Registration: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5936432997007948545

Is Audio the next big Digital Asset to track?

CMSWire has an interesting article on DAM and audio; I recently benefitted from a look at Canto’s DAM and was impressed by the ease of tracking and tagging audio. I’m not sure it is the next thing to track: people who do sound work for movies like Star Wars, the Jurassic series, and the Marvel movies have been indexing, tagging and tracking their many thousands of audio files for years, if the iTunes Extras are any indication. Also, the lead line comes across as a bit creepy by implication… do we really want home-device speakers putting audio content from our homes into a DAM?

As we edge towards 2019, its clear to see the growing role of audio content in our daily lives. From morning news readouts to late-afternoon podcast sessions, Google claims that 72 percent of those who own a voice-activated speaker use the device as part of their daily routine.

On a more cheerful note, they also have a good general article on how to think about your RFP:

How to Write an RFP for a Digital Asset Management System: A 10-Step Guide

It has some great points to consider, like, “[…]don’t let the [required functionality] list get too long. You are more likely to succeed with a system that handles your five most important processes super well, instead of a system that does 100 things through workarounds”, advice on how to work with your vendor to get the most out of your RFP response, and security.  I’d add audit-ability, in these days of SARBOX reporting.

DAM Profile: Heather Hedden

Heather Hedden, @hhedden, is a professional taxonomist… in short, she helps humans organize, classify and tag large groups of things so they can be found. What use is an image system if you can’t find the things in it? This is one of the most basic functions of a Digital Asset Management system.

From one of her profiles:

“I am a taxonomist and author of the book The Accidental Taxonomist (Information Today Inc., 2010, 2016). I have designed and developed taxonomies and metadata strategies for web and internal content management both as an independent consultant and as an employee in different organizations, currently Gale/Cengage Learning. I also teach online workshops in taxonomy creation. I was the founding chair of the mentoring committee of the Taxonomy Division of SLA and was the founder and past manager of the Taxonomies & Controlled Vocabularies SIG of the American Society for Indexing.”

She has written The Accidental Taxonomist. Her book is hard reading, as a highly specialized subject written by someone with a deep understanding of the field, and the kind of nitty-gritty that probably doesn’t appeal to those who say things like “…cut to the chase,” and “…give me a high-level takeaway!” — a group that includes most executives, who like to think they are focusing on the big picture. While that’s a charmingly simple point of view, the gruesome, sausage-making details of how things work determine if it will succeed and last, and Hedden is the kind of person who actually makes things work, and work right in the long run.

She has been working in the field since 1993. Heather has a Company, Hedden Information Management, and a blog, so if you are not still hung up on the fact that there is an American Society for Indexing, both are worth delving into, especially if you are wondering how you are going to be able to classify all your digital assets, and to familiarize yourself some of the work from this remarkable mind, in a field you are going to have to know something about if you are going to build or run an effective Digital Asset Management system.