Guru Talk: Fred Robertson

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

Since 2005 I’ve worked for the following companies as a DAM professional.

Liberty Mutual Insurance
Arnold Worldwide
Bose Corporation

Most all of these DAM positions – minus the actual agency position at Arnold – were internal agency scenarios.  In each of these roles the need for a DAM was primarily undertaken and initiated in collaboration with the studio, where the responsibility for finalizing and releasing creative work was dependent upon a well-managed and organized library of assets.

What’s interesting about my internal agency work as an asset manager was that all three companies were looking for someone to come in and more fully establish a DAM.  In each case I was not taking over for a prior asset manager or simply continuing to manage assets as part of a legacy DAM system.

At Liberty that meant ultimately creating a brand new platform for managing and sharing assets, at Bose it meant providing new ways to organize and manage files within an established system which eventually would be replaced.  And at Biogen it was as part of a new DAM initiative which had begun before my arrival.

In hindsight my role at Liberty was a great starting point, providing an opportunity for me to establish my own working method and build a checklist to solving for problems which would recur with each new role I took on thereafter. This meant that I could initiate relationships throughout the agency and with (internal) clients who regularly engaged with the creative group. It did not take long for me to realized that my success as an asset manager would be entirely dependent upon maintaining and growing these relationships, establishing trust and providing value across and between all of these touch points in the lifecycle of any piece of creative work.

After six years at Liberty Mutual I spent next two years at Arnold Worldwide (primarily) supporting Dell, who was a new client at the time, and who required a dedicated asset manager within the agency. This was a somewhat new thing for Arnold – since they had two existing asset managers on staff who handled various accounts but were not dedicated to one particular client. At Liberty my interaction with outside agencies was very limited and once I was inside a large agency like Arnold, I was able to see a side of the creative process which was not visible to me at Liberty Mutual. Here again I realized that my success would be dependent upon my ability to establish relationships across many avenues of the creative workflow.

My work managing digital assets at both Liberty Mutual and Arnold Worldwide would come together fully at Bose Corporation in 2013. At Liberty my main focus was managing and purchasing stock imagery while tracking usage and licensing. At Arnold I was able to interact and support an established DAM system (with Dell), while also supporting other clients and the greater asset management team within the agency. This meant handling photo shoot files, building metadata schemas and uploading large batches of files for use throughout the agency.

At Bose my role as the digital asset manager was all encompassing. From handing all photo and video files, distributing files to outside agencies and vendors, to assisting the studio to finalize product and lifestyle imagery, managing production and library servers and supporting internal and international marketing partners. The DAM challenge at Bose was particularly huge and an ongoing opportunity for improvement and change. Implementing changes within an established framework and working around product launches which were continuously ongoing was difficult. My success in this role was very much incremental at first. It took time to build relationships and find a voice in the role. Responsibilities which were once handled by a number of different people took time to consolidate into one role. I think my greatest success at Bose was my ability to eliminate the number of touch points in the life cycle of asset creation. Knowing the one true source of truth and being the vehicle for it was very rewarding on many levels.

My most recent role at Biogen has been very different than previous roles in the DAM space and has presented many new challenges and scenarios to solve for which I had not (entirely) considered previously. While Biogen uses an internal agency for some of their work, they also use many other outside agencies to support their nearly half dozen different brands. So it’s a lot to try and wrangle into one cohesive DAM process. Finding the single source of truth was hard. As I mentioned previously, I came to this role after the DAM initiative had started and at the point where it was ready to launch – so my ability to understand the process and then participate in establishing DAM protocols which best supported those processes was limited.

I am leaving Biogen as this year comes to a close – my family is relocating – and I very much look forward to my next role as a DAM professional. Always looking for challenges and opportunities to expand my knowledge base in this space.

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

The most important thing for anyone new to DAM to understand about DAM is that it’s everywhere. Which is to say, we all need our own personal DAMs for the myriad of personal assets we create, accumulate and share throughout our days. So if you can think of that, then imagine the needs of a company (of any size), how they present themselves to the world and how they need to be organized. And then, if you’ve come to realize the need for a DAM within your organization and have decided to embark on that journey, don’t hesitate, make excuses or cut corners. If you say you’re doing DAM, then by all means, do it across the board. Within an organization of any kind, DAM needs to be everywhere in the thinking of people who are involved in the creation of content, delivery of files and the preservation of assets for continued used.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

In all my years of doing this, the biggest ongoing challenge is finding someone within the organization who understands that DAM needs a seat a lot of different tables in order to be successful. DAM needs to be a part of many conversations. And it needs to be able to speak for itself. I am yet to find a DAM role where the voice of the asset manager can be heard over the systems, operations and/or product owner leads who get invited to meetings where decisions are made about DAM. Decisions largely made without the asset manager activity participating. I see this as my (personal) ongoing challenge simply because I haven’t been able to have that voice when the management structure is a roadblock to meaningful success in the role and therefore the overall DAM strategy.

What more would you like to learn about DAM?

I’d like to learn more about other DAM systems and about other ways of managing assets and content. My roles up to now have all been very similar in terms of the content, the work and even the systems used to support the role. So an opportunity to work with other tools would be great. I also would love to shift gears and work less on the agency/creative side of the things and delve into archives and collections. Either at an institutional or educational level; at a museum, university or foundation of some sort. I feel like my engagement would be maximized by my interest and feel the personal reward would be greater than any previous role. I don’t have a library science degree but have begun to think that pursuing one would help me to further this pursuit.

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

I like this question a lot. Because I don’t think there’s any way to avoid doing DAM in one form or another for me. I truly think it’s in my blood to be an asset manager of some sort. Personal librarian, archivist, photographer, hoarder, etc. I really do believe that I can’t not be an asset manager even if it weren’t my primary profession.

Guru Talk: Ian Matzen – Tame Your Assets

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

I have worked as a digital asset management professional for six years, four of which have been as a remote worker. I have a background in digital video post-production: having post-produced spots for advertisers, episodes for reality television, and short videos for corporate clients.

Currently I am one of four DAM Librarians working in the Marketing department at Wells Fargo. Prior to this, I was the Digital Asset Manager for America’s Test Kitchen, a Boston-based publisher. At Net-a-Porter, a luxury brand online retailer headquartered in London, I was a Digital Asset Technician.

In these positions, I applied my skills in asset migration, workflow automation, user adoption, digital preservation, digital rights management, data analysis, metadata modeling, controlled vocabulary (taxonomy) design, user-centered interface design, and auto-classification.

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

DAM as a practice is heavily influenced by those company staff who create and use digital assets. While most companies will benefit from having a DAM system, it will likely become a “shelf-baby” — DAM software left unused due to lack of attention — without the proper setup based on the needs and practices of its users. Consequently, you will excel at your work once you learn to partner with and influence stakeholders to arrive at governance standards that are both agreeable and steeped in standards and best practices.

You will likely spend less of your time managing assets than you will working on other tasks. Most days you will find me configuring, testing, and troubleshooting the DAM system and providing reference desk services to users. Most DAM systems were put into place to manage and make accessible a very large number of digital assets. Expecting a single person to upload, catalog, validate, classify, update, migrate, and distribute them is wishful thinking. We enable others to manage digital assets for themselves.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

I can think of more DAM challenges than I have room to write! The greatest challenge is how to communicate the value that DAM brings to the company so that it is understood by upper management. DAM professionals, our immediate supervisors, and DAM conference attendees are obviously well aware of its value. I get it: considering DAM is too “in the weeds” for C-suite management. While I acknowledge this, the lack of understanding can have some serious ramifications to our work: from insufficient resource allocation — limiting us from increasing DAM’s value — to being threatened or affected by staffing cuts. Ultimately users are left to bear the burden. A large part of our work as DAM professionals must be to advocate for ourselves and advertise our accomplishments. Finding a means to communicate this message to upper-management is an ongoing challenge.

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

Currently, we seem to be going through a hoarding phase, amassing and storing most of our digital assets without first carefully selecting what to keep and then reconsidering this selection at regular intervals in the future. In five years, unless companies are ready to destroy much of this content, they will turn to archiving much of this material. This will be a great opportunity for archivists!

In the next five years, I hope vendors will adopt a set of common standards to support out-of-the-box system integrations. This may be wishful thinking, but system vendors must realize that by adopting such standards their products will be attractive to companies that value efficiency and interoperability over spending money on overly-complicated customizations.

Guru Talk: Deb Fanslow – ICP

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

I’ve been working in DAM for over 6 years, with experience across the pharmaceutical, CPG, library, museum, and education industries. After earning my Master of Library Sciences degree, I began my career in DAM within academia, working as a graduate intern at the Rutgers University Center of Alcohol Studies to implement an enterprise document management system to manage the library’s special collections. To gain more experience, I then interned with the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, cataloging their marketing materials to support the museum’s rich holdings. At the same time, I volunteered at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, digitizing rare historic library manuscripts and archival materials.

My first foray into DAM in the private sector was a position with Schawk, working as the Lead Digital Asset Coordinator for their client, Campbell Soup Company. In this role, I managed and administered Campbell’s library of over 115,000 packaging/brand assets, oversaw creation, review, cataloging, and distribution of product renderings, and got my first taste of workflow design and optimization, as well as the challenges of upgrading an enterprise system and aligning stakeholders across a global company. I then moved into a challenging role at Campbell as Marketing Content Platforms Manager, coming onboard mid-project to lead a global team in launching Campbell’s first enterprise DAM system and integrating it with their established workflow system.

Next came a role as Content Steward with Aquent Studios, working with a team of librarians at their client, Merck, to develop global modular content automation capabilities. It was here that I learned the complexities of modularizing master content for local reuse using an XML workflow. I was heavily involved in developing standards and processes, as well as training and documentation.

From this experience, I transitioned to a much broader role at Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) as Content Management Capability Lead, where I focused on developing a strategy to drive content reuse across the business, traditional digital asset management, and development of modular content capabilities. In this role, I led projects to analyze and update BMS’s metadata schema, augment DAM reporting capabilities using data visualization, upgrade the DAM system, onboard a new business unit, identify what we called the upstream “content pipeline,” and last but not least, customize their DAM system to support creation and management of dynamic modular content.

As a proponent of documentation, my next role was a foray into knowledge management, a close cousin to DAM. In this temporary position I worked as a consultant with the Educational Testing Service (ETS), where I led a project to develop an online knowledge base to support ETS’s flagship item banking system—the hub of an extraordinarily complex ecosystem that stands as a stellar example of end-to-end modular content creation and delivery.

All of these experiences have led me to my current role as Migration Manager for ICP. I work with their client, Jazz Pharmaceuticals, to manage a library of References to support commercial and medical materials. After migrating their Reference library to a new platform, I am now responsible for ongoing content curation and governance. With the rollout of the new system, I have contributed to developing new metadata standards and processes, system configuration, training, and user support. I work among a team of talented DAM professionals, and benefit from their collective experience.


How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

I actually started learning about DAM before I knew what it was. At the beginning of my 17-year stint working as a graphic designer in the publishing industry, I was creating digital assets and managing all of the content created during the process on servers. My first exposure to DAM was on the user side, where I used one of the first enterprise DAM systems (remember the days of Artesia?) to store and distribute book cover images. Coming into DAM with an understanding of the creative process and the user experience is invaluable.

Although not mandatory for a successful career, I absolutely recommend investing in a Library/Information Science degree that focuses on managing digital libraries. DAM today is heavily marketing-focused, but the principles of centralizing, structuring, managing, and distributing information for findability are much broader than that, and are evergreen across industries, content types, and every DAM use case I have ever heard. And the focus is always on the people using information systems to access and use information in all of its various forms.

Some of the best DAM education I’ve had came as a result of working as a School Library Media Specialist. It was in this role that I learned about the reference interview (what is the user’s underlying need?), teaching (accommodating different learning styles, scaffolding, and continuous reinforcement), change management (personalization is key), user experience (how many interfaces do students need to learn to find the right article?), and most of all, the importance of patience!

Apart from work experience, I would of course recommend visiting the DAM Directory, a curated launching pad to a myriad of DAM resources. Attend DAM conferences, find a mentor, join professional associations, sign up for DAM Peeps, and read everything you can from consultants, analysts, vendors, and practicing DAM professionals—keeping in mind the source.

You can learn many of the core principles of digital asset management by managing your own digital content using a personal desktop DAM system designed for the professional photographer’s workflow. Last but not least, for those new to DAM and the experienced alike, keep an eye on job postings to learn the skills that employers are looking for—then go out and acquire them!


What more would you like to learn about DAM?

I have a voracious appetite for learning, so my list is long! At the top currently is learning more about the larger ecosystem of DAM—strategy and orchestration of data and content that flows upstream and downstream throughout the digital supply chain.

I’d love to get a peek under the hood of a DAM system from a developer. Also on the list is learning more about system integration, Master Data/Metadata management, modular content, data aggregation, Media Asset Management (MAM), product management, analytics…there’s always something more to learn!

DAM Practitioners’ Summit from Insight Exchange Network (IEN), New York, 30-31st January 2020

The third annual DAM Practitioners’ Summit from Insight Exchange Network is due to take place this January In New York.  In the last two years, the high standard of speakers and sessions has gained this two day conference the reputation of being one of the DAM industry’s most respected events.  The agenda for the upcoming conference includes a wide range of speakers, topics and discussion panels, including:

  • DAM adoption strategies to drive increased use
  • Advice on DAM careers and up-skilling your role
  • Identifying a DAM’s key metrics and methods to increase value
  • Candid debate and advice for successful vendor relationships
  • High quality, low-key expert advice via numerous panel discussions
  • Third party integration and its impact on your workflows

The full agenda is available via the following link:

The 2020 summit’s guest speakers, panellists and vendors include:

  • Margie Foster, Dell Technologies
  • Kathryn Gronsbell, Carnegie Hall
  • Kenneth Hurta, Brandfolder
  • Stacey Jurgensen, PBS
  • Ian Matzen, MLIS, Tame Your Assets
  • Suzanne Saylor, Boeing
  • Carol Thomas-Knipes, Logic Source
  • Ralph Windsor, DAM News/DAM Guru Program

The full line-up of speakers is available here:

The 2019 summit garnered widespread positive feedback from its attendees, a summary which was kindly compiled by Carol Thomas-Knipes and is available to read here.  A full review of the 2019 conference by Jeffrey Marino is also available to read over on the DAM News website.

“In summary, this year’s IEN Practitioners’ Summit was an intimate, intelligent conference of experts talking shop, speaking frankly about traditional concepts and taking chances on interesting topics in front of a reasonably sized audience of professionals (and DAM gurus).”  [Read More]

The summit is to be held at the AMA Conference Center in New York and runs from Thursday 30th January to Friday 31st January 2019.  Early bird bookings are open until December 20th, and we have an exclusive discount code available for our readers courtesy of IEN.  Simply enter the following code at checkout to receive your discount: M131DGP.

Full details of the event can be viewed at the link below.

Webinar Recording: The State of DAM User Adoption Today

Last month’s webinar ‘The State of DAM User Adoption Today‘ is now available to watch on YouTube.  Featuring a series of panelists including Lisa Grimm, Ian Matzen, Ralph Windsor and Henrik de Gyor, and hosted by Frank DeCarlo from RPR Graphics, the webinar represents a rare opportunity to gather a wealth of insights, tips and actionable guidance from some of the DAM industry’s foremost experts.

Aimed primarily at DAM user adoption and the challenges surrounding it, the session covers a wide range of topics including User Experience (UX), User Interface (UI), training, Change Management, targeting a DAM champion, the importance of providing device and platform-agnostic access, and effective strategies on how to build a roadmap that centres around the expectations and needs of the users themselves.

Offering candid and neutral advice, the webinar does not endorse any products or vendors, and with a series of user-submitted Q&As should prove to be a useful resource for anyone involved in onboarding users for a DAM initiative at any stage of its development lifecycle.

You can watch the full webinar below.

DAM Chicago 2019: Conference Feedback

This article was written by Jeffrey Marino.


We posed a series of questions to a diverse range of attendees at the Henry Stewart 2019 Chicago DAM conference and have compiled their responses in this article. Common themes of interest included: Artificial Intelligence (lots), User Experience (much), Rights and Taxonomy (some) and Getting Started with DAM (more than a few).


Many thanks to the following for providing us with their insights:

Carol Lammers, Manager- Photography Services at Mayo Clinic

Tracy Olmsted, DAM Program Owner, BrandNext at Amway

Kristen Johnson, Operation Assistant at Bibliovault and student in the Rutgers University certification program for Digital Asset Management

Frank Villella, Director, Rosenthal Archives of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Kenn Crombé, Business & Network Developer, Kadanza

Sal Hakimi, Co-Founder, Tenovos

Matt Patulski, Project Manager and Business Analyst, CyanGate

Michael Romero, Vice President Integrated Solutions at iPR Software


Regarding the event:

Q: What were the most useful insights you gained from the DAM Chicago conference?


Carol Lammers

How to evaluate and select technology and how AI is helping with identification and metadata tagging.


Tracy Olmsted

This may not be as relevant to the conference as it was to me, but the major insight I gained is that we are on target. We’re new to the DAM space and we’ve been a bit isolated. It was reassuring to learn that what we’re asking for in our company is not only possible, but in alignment with where DAM is headed.


Kristen Johnson

I realized everyone is at dierent points in DAM development and it was great to see and hear what worked for some companies but not others. Everyone seemed willing to help each other.


Frank Villella

Most useful was networking, talking with other folks about their projects and challenges with getting a DAM up and running.


Kenn Crombé

That it’s not always about being the DAM with the biggest array of features, but more about gaining trust usually built through honest communication and references in one’s current client portfolio (industry-specific).

As purchase managers you can look at all the features, and end up buying a highly functional platform, but one first has gotta ask oneself how many people are going to use it and what’s the ease-of-use. The more people will use the DAM, the more relevant this argument becomes.

Clean up your metadata before to start implementing your DAM (also you have post-migration clean-ups).

Governance, you got to have it cause otherwise very likely your system will fail, cause it’s not just about clicking a button.


Sal Hakimi

We had a lot of great discussions and conversation with attendees and a few things became clear about the attendees:

There was a ton of talk about AI/ML and Rights Managements. But not real integrations or capabilities that really merge those capabilities and blend into operating models (maybe minus the Videofashion use case which to be fair uses that tech in almost a non-DAM way with their fashion video archive).

There was a fair number of attendees who did not have any DAM or feel their current DAM was no longer viable for their business objectives/lacked adoption/legacy tech. I think for the folks that had an aging DAM there was a lot of frustration on where their current vendor/tech had stalled and could not respond to what would be capabilities that are part of mature DAM tech and operations.

The metadata managers and practitioners always are a solid base of attendees and make panels or sessions with metadata informative. It’s good to see those roles still being considered key staffing for companies using DAM (even if many are the only singular resource in their company).


Matt Patulski

Metadata is the hook on which everyone needs to hang their hat.


Michael Romero

Consistent with previous conferences, DAM is an exciting space for innovation. Whether the core intellect revolves around AI or metadata, I’ve found that we increasingly develop successful ways to move the industry forward.


Q: What DAM-related topics are currently most interesting to you? and was that reflected at DAM Chicago?


Carol Lammers

Transferring to a new systems is most relevant to us at this point in time. I found the panel discussions with other organizations going through transitions informative and helpful. Yes, it was reflected.


Tracy Olmsted

We’re a global organization with DAM needs that span several markets. The DAM topics we’ve been exploring are one instance vs. multiple, cloud vs. on premises, metadata and taxonomy restructuring, AI support for metadata and search. We were able to explore all of those topics at HS Chicago. We’re also updating our DAM and we were able to talk to vendors and colleagues about what they were using and their experiences.


Kristen Johnson

I was interested in automation, AI, and preservation of objects that were pre-digital (film reels, photographs, etc). Yes, all of these subject matters were covered at the conference.


Frank Villella

My institution doesn’t yet have a formal DAM, so DAM 101 is what most interests me at the moment. This was touched upon to a small extent at the conference.


Kenn Crombé

How every DAM relates to each other and which criteria/methodology consultants really use in which “use-cases” of their clients. This wasn’t much reflected at DAM Chicago, but I understand why this is kept a bit confidential to avoid jeopardising one’s own business.


Sal Hakimi

I think the marketing and brand control over a company’s content (planning/spend/creation/execution/operations/omni-channel) hasn’t been a focus where it’s addressed holistically and looked at from the story-telling/narrative; where a Creative/Brand VP talks about what they need DAM to do; where content and operational transparency is necessary to support C-Level goals (eComm, Revenue/Retail, B2C Loyalty, Licensing….).


HS client case studies showcase ways a company (Mars, Detroit Institute, etc.) use DAM and often it is called enterprise DAM – but speakers are often IT owners, database managers that own the technology and recognize they need governance, change management, etc.


But as a software vendor – to improve our product – and ultimately innovate in the DAM industry, the bigger conversation and perspective needs to be heard and understood first. And in that way the practitioners of DAM who attend HS conferences can share their daily experiences but also begin to really speak to DAM ROI and Content Maturity because the value of DAM starts to have a narrative beyond technology.


Matt Patulski

Archive Practices in the Private Sector and Cultural Heritage. The Chicago event is always strong with museum panels and attendees. The sessions on Detroit Institute of Arts and Boston Symphony Orchestra were great.


Michael Romero

AI and enterprise-level implementations are most important to my focus at the moment and both were represented well at DAM Chicago.


From what you heard at the conference:

Q: Where do you think DAM has innovated in the last few years?


Carol Lammers

I’m new to the DAM world so not really able to fully answer this. I did find AI and machine learning to be innovative and strong potential in the future


Tracy Olmsted

I’m new to this work in the last year, but it looks like there have been some leaps and bounds in the AI space.


Kristen Johnson

AI and automation.


Frank Villella

Hard to say, since I’m new to this.


Kenn Crombé

Business and brand intelligence, with more accurate analytics to back it up.


Matt Patulski

Integrations and platforming to address MDM and Content Syndications especially in the CPG space. Most of the Case studies were not stand alone systems; they were positioned within larger organizational ecosystems.


Q: What developments got your attention?


Carol Lammers



Tracy Olmsted

Definitely the capabilities behind (the) VideoFashion (case study). The use of AI for creating a searchable library was very impressive.


Kristen Johnson

AI and how to get systems at dierent technological levels talking/interacting with each other.


Frank Villella

The artificial intelligence aspect is fascinating.


Kenn Crombé

Business tagging (AI), and the specific use of AI in the case of Videofashion (represented by Anne V. Adami).


Sal Hakimi

The User Experience has to change for the most important stakeholders and software has to reflect how they work, where they work and not take them into a separate ‘DAM experience’.


From your own experience:

Q: Has DAM innovation, implementation and adoption helped you and your organization? If so, how?


Carol Lammers

I’m hoping it will as we transition from a 15 year old system that has not been well utilized.


Tracy Olmsted

It definitely has, but we have a long way to go. It has provided a “single source of truth” and done a great job providing a structure that protects the company from legal liability, but only if people use it.


Michael Romero

From the vendor side, innovation is extremely important to the survival and growth of our business. If we don’t acknowledge, adapt and support innovation then we should be doing something else for a living. As it relates to our customers, they expect innovation from us as we’ve built long-standing relationships with the promise of partnership for the long-haul.


Q: What issues or roadblocks need (or still need) to be overcome?


Carol Lammers

Governance and adoption by an organization of 70,000+ employees.


Tracy Olmsted

Our roadblocks are in the user experience area. You can’t browbeat everyone into using a system. You need to make it the most desirable option. The more desirable the option, the more people use it, the more we’re protected from liability. We have improvements to make in both our process and our system to create that “most desirable” user experience.


Frank Villella

We have to convince upper management to allocate the resources and invest.


Sal Hakimi

Who owns/values and supports content technologies is shifting but still has a ways to go so that Brand/Marketing use cases and realities in a company’s content journey is met. (ie, nobody wants to ‘own’ the technology but in any initial governance meeting it’s really clear that IT has very little say about ‘owning’ content spend/planning/execution for brands, which heavily defines the right technology and solution being asked for).


Matt Patulski

DAM as a concept continues to be abstract to most members of potential user communities. DAM vendors and consultants need to do a better job equipping their clients with the language to communicate the benefits and risks of Digital Asset Management. With DAM solutions expected to integrate with so many systems across the enterprise — ERP, PIM, CRM, MDM, CMS — there is a need for a community of practice and a need to drive integration standards regardless of the software architecture.


Michael Romero

Interesting question because there aren’t any that immediately come to mind. I think an area that is going to see more innovation will be the AI space, and companies will eventually build their own AI layers on top of the Amazons, Googles and Microsofts of the world.


Looking ahead:

Q: Do you think that ROI from DAM is properly understood by stakeholders? What do you think best demonstrates its value?


Carol Lammers

No. ROI is always dicult to show for most aspects of creative endeavors. I think showing the saving of time for projects through the value of being able to find assets is key.


Tracy Olmsted

I can only speak or our company, but I would say it could be better understood. That will come from the measurable KPIs that we are working to put in place. I would like to start adding the monetary value of each asset to the metadata, then measure that against the analytics we can bring back from assets that are directly placed in web, design and social platforms – things like engagement, impressions, and conversions. That way we can see that ROI of each asset by measuring its use against the cost of making it. I would also like to see more ways of gathering feedback from the DAM users about the assets. If they can comment, like and share within the system and we can measure that plus their placement in internal design and development software such as Creative Cloud and Sketch – then we have a second layer of data. All of this should go into a dashboard for creative decision makers.


Kristen Johnson

I feel like stakeholders tend to undervalue DAMs and their usefulness. One possible way of showing their worth would be for the company to show profit as a result.


Frank Villella

Ease of access to materials.


Sal Hakimi

ROI for DAM is looked at around finding content, reuse and cost savings – again, mainly due to the idea a content technology solution should show those KPI’s along with ensure the principle of brand consistency is about using/finding/reusing the ‘right content’. ROI for Brand Content is so much larger when you look across content planning, workflow and outcomes. And if DAM is connected into that ecosystem it can enrich data and show many more ROI parameters.


Matt Patulski

No. Too often there is a gap between leadership and end users as to what DAM is, when mature. The space needs to frame DAM as a service much more clearly instead of a software product that has an end life. The best way to make the case for ROI is to use examples where DAM addresses pain points such as moving large files, managing brand consistency, rights management, versioning and derivative management.


Michael Romero

The content at DAM conferences improves with each instance. I spoke to many first-timers who were extremely impressed and sometimes happily overwhelmed with the wealth of knowledge presented in one day. In my opinion, the single day in Chicago was more informative than the two days in New York this year and I think that speaks to improved programming based on listening to what practitioners need and want.


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


Carol Lammers

Hard to say since I’m a new attendee.


Tracy Olmsted

How DAM is not just being used as a repository, but the foundation for an ecosystem and a vehicle for conversation around creative direction.


Kristen Johnson

Security and governance.


Frank Villella

Getting started with a DAM.


Kenn Crombé

Overall mapping of the dierent strategic directions and thus positioning of players in the industry (without necessarily mentioning any names, íf that would be a point of concern), but I guess that’s the type of knowledge that analysts like The Real Story Group try to monopolize and keep secret.


Matt Patulski

User experience and accessibility. Most DAM platforms are very immature in this regard. Supporting Mobile and tablet UIs with end users.


Michael Romero

Like a broken record, I’ll continue to raise a flag for more AI discussions. I also think that further dialogue around taxonomy and metadata continues to be a focal point necessary for our industry’s evolution.


Q: What was your overall experience of DAM Chicago and would you go again?


Carol Lammers

Yes, it was great. I made good connections, learned some new things and found out we were already doing come things right.


Tracy Olmsted

Excellent. Yes, I would.


Kristen Johnson

If I was given the opportunity, I would definitely go again. It was wonderful to see the breadth of experience from people from dierent organizations struggling with a variety of subject matters.


Frank Villella

It was a lot to absorb in one day; I would love to go again, but it’s quite expensive (my fee was comped).


Kenn Crombé

Friendly and open atmosphere, helpful organization of HS. It’s well suited to connect with experts/consultants in the field as well as to learn from specific case studies that were presented, but less useful to discover and connect with design & production agencies as well as potential technology integrators (which are both quite relevant for Kadanza’s expansion strategy). Yes I would like to go again, if budget and opportunities permit.


Sal Hakimi

I would always go again – I think listening and learning from this community of content professionals is vital. Refreshing the sessions and tracks so they are better defined by roles/content/maturity, having the exhibit floor turnkey and using a LOT more video for presentations, technical discussions and thought leadership…all things I hope to see in the future.


Matt Patulski

Very much enjoyed the day in Chicago. This was my 4th visit in the past 10 years. I suspect I will be back again.


Michael Romero

Loved it and would absolutely go again. Planning on San Diego in a few weeks; very much appreciate Henry Stewart Conferences and look forward to more exciting content.

DAM Chicago 2019 Review

This article was written by Jeffrey Marino.


DAM Chicago 2019, The Art and Practice of Managing Digital Media, kicked off September 24th.  Before the sessions began, I chatted with David Lipsey, the conference Chair, and asked for some insight on what was in store for us at the ‘the Midwest’s largest conference dedicated to Digital Asset Management.’

“Chicago is a very interesting expression of DAM in the marketplace. There are hundreds of companies in the region that rank in the top thousand in the US. Their imaging, branding and e-commerce needs are a significant opportunity for DAM technology and personnel, and it’s happening right now.”

Lipsey then kicked off the conference with the baseline definition that digital assets are information assets, and they need to be considered in the context of a long and complex supply-chain. Recognizably embedded in the real world, “these assets are a shadow currency in contemporary life, operating outside corporate norms of audit and accountability.”

While yesterday’s digital asset has value as ‘a single source of truth,’ today its value is as a transactional device, “a core currency and handshake of engagement.” Thought provoking and intellectually generous, Lipsey is also the director of the newly stood up DAM Certification curriculum at Rutgers University.

Praveen Moturu presented the keynote address, Digital Assets, Digital Eco System & Digital Transformation: How Mars Inc. is leveraging Digital Engine & Platforms to connect the Digital Eco Systems. His mile-high view as VP and Chief Enterprise Architect illustrated the complexity of the organization’s as-is state as a ‘hairball’ while depicting its transformative should-be state as a true metamorphosis.

The DAM initiative (like the caterpillar) is subject to birth, growth and risks to viability before it can mature and take off. “Many caterpillars die without becoming a butterfly,” he advises, so take good care. Be judicious with what does and does not go into the DAM. And stay aware of the challenging environment. In particular Moturu cites these constant disruptors:

  • the always increasing volume of assets and distribution channels, spaces and contexts;
  • the variety of types and usage such as VR, AR and 3D;
  • and the everlasting need for compliance with external and internal regulations.

In the next address, Reframing the Conversation – Innovations in DAM, Collections Information, and Data at the Detroit Institute of Arts, Jessica Herczeg-Konecny described the the museum’s transition from departmental to enterprise DAM, and the process of migrating 60,000 assets to a new platform. With a small staff of ‘one and a half’ at her disposal, she acknowledged that “sun-setting the old system was hard,” and advised “it’s important to have a good  exit strategy.” With the bulk of the Institute’s 90,000 assets migrated, her role is now to ‘captain, cheerlead and champion’ the new system and its users – collectors, custodians and contributors at the organization.

Christine Gibbs, the Collections Database Manager at the museum, said that with today’s maturity of DAM technology, ‘APIs are the new hub,’ and is looking ahead to connect the new DAM to the museum CMS and to broadening its audience. In an interesting and practical example of DAM and the real world, Gibbs used asset data on physical dimensions of objects to calculate shelf space requirements of the physical plant – very useful info to have on hand when capital expenditure and budgeting opportunities come around! Another size-calculus illustrates the scope of digitalization of paper records into the DAM: over 17 square miles of documents. (In a wry Midwest gibe, Gibbs qualified this area as “enough to cover half of Manhattan.”)

Next, Gil Comeaux and Travis Garrett presented Lessons Learned from a 2 year DAM Expedition by Tyson Foods. Managing content at a major producer in the food supply chain is a big challenge given the constant critical updates – not only to package design (artwork) but also to accurate, and legal, labeling ingredients and nutrition. The DAM also serves packing and shipping – the labeling workflow of cartons with their contents and destination, automatically customized for tracking and accountability. Their small team (2 people) succeeds in a large enterprise by maintaining clear data standards (what should go into the DAM vs what should not), and extensive communication with a global user base (feedback,  training, webinars, surveys, and more). Operational keywords for the team were to ‘unravel’ and ‘refit’ a wide range of business processes and to set DAM – which they code named ‘JIVE’ – at the very center of the Tyson Foods digital asset supply chain. Based upon creative production and rework costs, they calculate the value of their 150,000+ assets at an estimated $16MM. And in case that valuation didn’t get the attention of their stakeholders to justify the initiative, they ALSO produced an amazing video, JIVE THE QUEST. Check it out, it’s a must-see!

Next we attended DAM Innovation: Technical Experts Address Your Really Tough Questions. The core challenges for DAM are their users’ expectations, said Lisa McIntyre from Nuxeo, citing how all consumers think of Google and Instagram as the be-all and end-all of UX. Other panelists chimed in about network speed (as in, ‘why is our corporate wifi so slow?’). The core opportunity is that with good connectivity, APIs today make integrations of on-prem to cloud-based apps and storage easier than ever. Of course, said Rich Carroll from Sitecore, we should realize that large media files like 4K and 8K still belong on-prem.

Regarding copyright, McIntyre summarized that if asset reuse is the raison d’etre for the DAM, the 1st priority for that implementation needs to be setting up rights and permissions properly. “Ask for permission rather than count on forgiveness – you’ll never go wrong with that.” To that very point, in a later session we were reminded how Taster’s Choice used an image without permission on jars of freeze-dried coffee resulting in a good-to-the-last-drop $15MM legal settlement.

The panel then tackled distinctions between Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Many (or most?) DAMs feature some sort of AI under the hood. “AI has real use cases and value in DAM,” says Jim Hanifen from Brandfolder.

He polled the audience for a show of hands:

  • How many of you are using AI now? (one hand, maybe two)
  • How many of you want AI? (about a dozen)
  • How many of you have budgeted for AI (zero).

As we pondered these results, a comment from the audience comment broke the silence.

“We had to turn our AI off after one day. It was kind of psychotic!”

(More on this in the last session of the day.)

Neil Grant from Tenovos explained a bit about Machine Learning, and one of the ways AI seeks to improve itself  “Machine learning is about looking at large datasets, and it learns by looking at the data around search results, to identify patterns there.” Datasets can be quite large in DAM (though nowhere near as big as those in ecommerce, downstream of DAM), and applied learnings can help DAM managers know more about their users and how their assets are used, and even ‘heal’ metadata.

Finally, product development by vendors is, by definition, ahead of user adoption. Brandfolder’s Henifen is sure that “our tools are far beyond our users’ knowledge of how to make use of them.” How is a DAM practitioner to cope? In the next panel, DAM’s Role in an Integrated Technology Environment, Michele Dickinson Heuer, lead Digital Asset Manager at Nestlé Purina Petcare North America, says “it’s important to try what’s in the box, and question how one is working,” before clamoring for new (or newfangled) features. At Nestlé , best practices are to focus on the tools at hand, support superusers, achieve wins consistently (small ones are valuable!) and gain DAM champions in the process.

Introducing the closing panel, Why Metadata Matters, Chair David Lipsey posed the challenge question, What are Ostraca?  hinting that ‘it’s the original metadata.’

Pottery shards are artifacts in the archeological story, and ostraca, as objects inscribed with writing are indeed akin to assets tagged with metadata. They lend additional meaning, importance and value to the set of objects telling that story. Metadata, Lipsey says, “is the spirit of a physical, intellectual and creative asset.” Does the alchemy of spirit and intelligence beget life and… personality?

  • “Our AI is a comedian,” says Kim Johnson of Hilton Hotels.
  • “Ours is a sociopath,” says Charlotte of Coty, Inc. “It mistook chrome nail polish for a knife.”
  • “We researched DAM for 7 to 8 months and leapfrogged right to AI,” says Anne Adami from VideoFashion. “It’s improving and learning really well.”

The ability for AI to thrive at VideoFashion is directly related to its environment. VideoFashion is an eponymous single brand holding exclusive rights to its video assets: it’s the largest private fashion library and archive in the world, encompassing 43 years of models, runways, haute couture, glamor and celebrity sightings. While their AI was highly skilled ‘out of the box’ in OCR (optical character recognition, or ‘reading’) and speech to text (‘transcription’), Adami was able to provide it with hundreds of scripted shows for its core education, and set her AI up for machine learning success. Not everything, though: facial recognition still needed refinement.“We had to teach it not to identify Yves St Laurent as Henry Kissinger.”

A more challenging environment for AI is Hilton’s 6,000 properties, 6,000 websites and 6,000 sets of assets. Regional and local differences are critical components of the business, and it’s understandable for Johnson’s asset managers (‘the largest DAM team in the world’) to be amused by the AI, but holding it at arm’s length.

Coty is similarly cautious about next steps with AI. With 50 brands, 3 internal divisions and international differences to work with, one working solution is to support 3 metadata configurations – reflecting perhaps the differences of ‘spirit’ in how different region communicate and conduct business.

Here’s a bit of the lively Q&A with these panelists.

Q:  Do you support synonyms in your approved taxonomy?

A: Charlotte (Coty) – Yes

A: Kim (Hilton) – No (but we have a freeform keywords field)

A: Anne (VideoFashion) – Yes! If the AI recognizes the synonym, the AI will figure it out.


Q: What about usage rights; what is most important?

A: Charlotte (Coty) – Expiration and territory

A: Kim (Hilton) – Tracking usage across channels

A: Anne (VideoFashion) – No worries! It all belongs to us.


Q: What about archiving?

A: Charlotte (Coty) – Retire, yes. Delete, no

A: Kim (Hilton) – We have a live-archive-deep archive model for our assets. Licensed assets expire automatically

A: Anne (VideoFashion) – Never delete. Just add storage!


With two simultaneous content tracks to choose from, the excerpts above represent only a bit more than half of the offerings.. We had a nice opportunity to get to know other attendees in a more intimate round-table setting hosted by Pacific Media Technologies: What Happens Before DAM: The Risks of not Digitizing Physical Assets, which was so interesting we didn’t get to visit any of the other seven or eight round-tables happening nearby. Henry Stewart DAM Chicago packs a lot into a single day!


DAM Chicago 2019 – The Art and Practice of Managing Digital Media

DAM Chicago is the Midwest’s largest conference dedicated to Digital Asset Management, and presents real world case studies, interactive panels, workshops, roundtables and tutorials, the latest thinking and new developments in the world of DAM. Brought to us by Henry Stewart and hosted at the InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile, the conference takes place on September 24 (with tutorials the day before on the 23rd, and a not-to-be-missed mixer at Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery).

We’ll meet up with DAM Guru Program members and bring you a full report on the business-critical topics presented in the sessions. We’ll listen closely for insights and best practices across the entire spectrum of Digital Asset Management, including:

  • DAM and Digital Transformation
  • Metadata, Access, and Rights
  • Enterprise DAM and Lessons Learned
  • Platform Innovations and Technology
  • Interoperability and the Connected Digital Eco-system
  • DAM Selection, Implementation, Adoption and Change Management

DAM Chicago is now in its eighth year and brings together thought leaders in a wide range of enterprise business, ranging from media to e-commerce, retail and the arts, beauty and fashion, food and packaged goods, and silicon and bio-technology. We’re looking forward to hearing updates from well-regarded folks on the DAM services side and stopping by the vendor platform exhibits.

The agenda is a balanced mix of presentations, in-depth case studies, panel discussions and breakout / networking sessions. Let’s meet up! (looking forward to that cocktail hour). Please visit the DAM Chicago 2019 event page for more information and to register to attend. DGP members get $100 off the price of the conference by using discount code DAMGURU100.

This article was submitted by Jeffrey Marino, a Digital Asset and Project Manager at WordCityStudio, Inc . He has worked in broadcast news, documentary, advertising technology and DAM. He recently received his MS in Media Management at The New School and is an active member of DAM Guru.

The State of DAM User Adoption Today Webinar – 17th October 2019

DAM Guru, New Jersey DAM Meetup, London DAM Meetup and Insight Exchange Network (IEN) are holding a joint webinar: The State of DAM User Adoption Today. The event takes place on Thursday 17th October 2019 at 8.30am PT, 11.30am ET, 4.30pm UK and 5.30pm Europe.

Topics such as the following will be discussed:

  • Who are your users?
  • Why is UI/UX so important to user adoption?
  • What techniques have been successful in the adoption of DAM?
  • What challenges have the panel faced or are aware of?

The session will run for 45 minutes and there will be an opportunity to ask questions at the end.  The four panelists will be: Lisa Grimm, Director, Digital Asset Management at Novartis; Ian Matzen, MLIS, Digital Asset Manager, Blogger; Henrik de Gyor, consultant, podcaster, writer and Ralph Windsor, Project Director of DAM consultants, Daydream, Director of DAM Guru.  The panel will be moderated by Frank DeCarlo, CEO of RPR Graphics.

User adoption is widely acknowledged to be one of the most complex and demanding problems faced by DAM users, yet solving it can dramatically increase the ROI that users can obtain from their DAM solution.

Adoption (or lack thereof) is typically one of the key factors that dictates whether or not a DAM initiative is successful. While there are many resources that cover the features and capabilities of DAM technology, practical information about the adoption subject is much harder to find. This panel discussion aims to address that imbalance.

The event will follow the same format as The State of DAM webinar which was held in April by New Jersey and London DAM Meetups. It will also be entirely free of adverts or sales pitches etc and should provide DAM end-users with some practical and actionable advice that they can apply to their own adoption programmes.

The event is free of charge and open for anyone with an interest in DAM adoption, including end-users, vendors and consultants.  The registration link is below:

New DAM Guru Website – Profile Editing Now Available

The DAM Guru website has recently been updated and re-designed.  One important new feature which was not available in the previous edition was the ability to amend profiles.  I am pleased to announce that this capability has now been implemented and all members now have a dedicated account where they can update their details without needing to enter a new profile to register any changes.

There is a process in-place for migrating existing DAM Guru members which you must complete if you want to take advantage of this new facility.  First, follow the link below:

Enter your email and you will receive a confirmation email with a link which you need to follow.  You will also be asked for a password to allow you to gain access to your profile at a later date via the login area of the DAM Guru website.

Over the forthcoming months we plan to introduce some new self-service capabilities for connecting gurus with those requiring expertise (amongst other planned features) and you will need to have an active profile to participate.

As always, please contact us via email: if you have any questions.