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

AI

 

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!

https://vimeo.com/247379643

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!