Category: DAM Education

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.

Feedback from the IEN 2019 DAM Practitioner’s Summit (Part 2)

This article is the second instalment of feedback about the recent IEN DAM Practitioner’s Summit from delegates who attended.  The first can be read here.  The responses featured in this article are as follows:

What were the most useful insights you gained from the IEN conference?

Jennifer Anna

A consistent thread at the conference revolved around challenges pertaining to stakeholder buy-in, support and user adoption. A lack of organization support and measurable change behavior results in a certain level of professional stagnation. The fate of the digital asset manager is the most interesting subject to me. Organizational support and adoption of digital asset management platforms can resolve many of the issues pertaining to a happy and healthy DAM (and DAM practitioner), e.g. metadata capture, rights managements, vendor selection, and I was pleased to see it addressed at the IEN DAM Summit.

Henrik de Gyor

Great for gaining insight across a number of industries with other colleagues working with Digital Asset Management

Alexandra Lederman

I found the panel on Rights Management helped me understand when/where/why I would recommend investing in a Rights Management product. The presentation on empathetic metadata helped me understand why I removed “Diversity” from my organizations taxonomy. I also really enjoy taking “tours” of other organization’s DAM systems (I wish there were more). I found it interesting to see how DAMs are set up, implemented, and used through a visual tour.

What DAM-related subjects are currently the most interesting for you and was that reflected at IEN?

Margie Foster

I’m interested in how other large organizations customize their DAMs.  It is great to meet with other DAM professionals, especially those that use the same tool I do.  The topics at IEN were great conversation starters and helped me make several new connections.

Henrik de Gyor

Tagging & Empathy

Vendor Selection, Management, and DAM Essentials

Elevating the Role of DAM Professionals Within the Organization and Beyond

Mark DiNoia

Anything to do with metadata is most helpful and interesting. Also the implementation (and fear of) AI. These topics were addressed at IEN in great detail in several presentations.

Alexandra Lederman

I am currently very interested in integrations, APIs, organization theory, asset life cycle, and system models and I personally did not feel that was reflected fully at IEN.

Do you think the ROI from DAM is properly understood by users? If not, what would help to demonstrate its value?

Frank DeCarlo

I come from an advertising/marketing production background, so in many ways I believe I look at DAM a bit differently than others who use it for another solution set or who see it closer to as a ‘nice to have’. For me, it’s been a necessity and a way of streamlining workflows for over 20 years, thus engrained that a DAM system, at a minimum, finds, distributes and protects assets that have been created or obtained at a cost. So, when well-paid creatives who are not using a DAM and spending unnecessary time in the ‘search’ or not being able to find it at all, I see operations generating a loss.

Henrik de Gyor

No. Still needs more work to constantly explain what’s it for, who is it for, where the value is to those who don’t realize it yet and when should they use it.

Jennifer Anna

No.  Companies and organizations tend to be reactive not proactive and lean towards technology solutions with direct financial drivers.  ROI has always been elusive for DAM systems beyond the efficiency arguments. At one point in time, there was a belief DAM would reduce headcount but it’s the opposite, DAM requires a spectrum of professionals with different skill sets.  Without tracking asset usage, cost savings can also be a challenging ROI argument to make.

The DAM community currently understands the need to advocate for the platform, workflows and most importantly organizational change behavior. We’ve evolved from focusing primarily on technology and moved towards thinking about people. We need to continue advocating but frankly, DAM vendors need to do a better job at marketing.  A few years ago, David Diamond wrote an article titled, “Five Reasons Why DAM is NO Photoshop,” which discusses the issues around the failure of DAM to become a common place software similar to the omnipresent software applications Photoshop, Dropbox, and Google Drive. I believe his arguments continue to be true today. We live in a digital realm where companies are beginning to chase after new technologies at every turn. Ironically, the one marketing technology designed to support all the others has done a terrible job marketing itself. 

Mark DiNoia

I think it is understood by users, but it needs to be communicated to management. This doesn’t always translate to ROI in dollars. In my experience, ROI from DAM is directly connected to getting the creative team to focus on their work of being creative and not concerned about file organization, metadata, etc. This will ultimately make them more productive and capable of delivering a more creative product.

Alexandra Lederman

Unfortunately, I do not. I think an actual workshop, not a presentation, with facilitators demonstrating their ROI with their real numbers followed by small groups and individuals working on their own ROI, and ending with a share out (including results, obstacles, surprises/unknowns) within the small groups and the whole conference.

Has DAM really innovated in the last five years and if so, in what ways?

Henrik de Gyor

Yes. Going on to the Cloud (instead of being on-premise). Having many more integration points to be a more useful rich media hub (via API) to many more spokes. Additional cloud services are able to add automated auto-tagging, transcription and translation, however all of these still need human verification.

Alexandra Lederman

I think the UX of DAM has improved which has enhanced user adoption. Cloud storage is another recent innovation that mostly impacts access, but equally important, I believe we will start to see further innovations as APIs advance and as systems thinking and mental models become more popular in society and the workplace as a whole.

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

Henrik de Gyor

What would maximize value for DAM for its users?

You have an operational DAM. Now what? How to move the DAM needle

Good and bad reasons to switch DAM systems

Jennifer Anna

Professional development and organizational governance.

Mark DiNoia

I would love to hear more about DAM successes versus DAM failures. My experience with DAM (searching for vendors, demos, purchase and implementation) has been very positive and am surprised to hear when other organizations have negative experiences. I think a great panel that could discuss the details with highs and lows would be helpful to anyone who is in the search phase of their DAM journey.

Alexandra Lederman

I would like to see the DAM community discussing how white the profession is and how we can make it more diverse (both in race and gender). Further, how we can use DAM to break down the patriarchal white supremacy that exists in the organizations we work for.

How do you see DAM developing over the next few years based on both what you know from your own experience and what you learned at this event?

Henrik de Gyor

There will many more be issues to address, fix and improve, so no lack of work for us working in Digital Asset Management.

Alexandra Lederman

It seems like there’s a big push for AI to assist with metadata implementation, but I don’t foresee it actualizing as smoothly as the technologists envisage. I do believe it will be important for Digital Asset Managers to learn, understand, and implement natural language processing in order to make AI actually useful to taxonomies and ontologies.

What was your overall experience of IEN and would you go again?

Frank DeCarlo

My experience of the #IENDAM over the past two years has been excellent. The IEN team are true professionals in how they approach all aspects of their informative and thought-provoking networking seminars. Demonstrating a true understanding of where the DAM community has been and where many of us perceive it is going (insert chuckle) I will most certainly be attending future events and look forward to more engaging topics that force attendees to take a real hard look at where they are in their DAM ambit. One of the most valuable attributes I find is the way in which IEN creates a close and intimate interaction between both attendees and speakers with such diverse backgrounds.

Henrik de Gyor

Very satisfying to meet with so many people working in the field of Digital Asset Management. Yes, I would participate again.

Jennifer Anna

Very positive. I appreciated the practitioner heavy panels and audience. The conference felt like a “safe space” to have candid conversations around the challenges and successes involved in the very complicated and difficult work we do as DAM professionals.  I would definitely go again.

Mark DiNoia

This was a very positive experience for me and I would definitely attend again.

Alexandra Lederman

This is my overall experience:

We need more voices and perspectives presenting and participating on panels.

We need to own that the DAM profession is very white and male. And we need to explore why it’s like that and how we can diversify our profession.

I was very surprised by all of the microaggressions displayed at the conference and geared towards assertive women and people of color.

I would definitely attend again because I love hearing different perspectives on DAM and calling out sexist presentations.


If you also attended the IEN Practitioner’s Summit, we would be more than happy to hear from you and present your valuable feedback.  Thanks again to the following DAM Guru members who kindly participated in this, and the previous article:

Feedback from the IEN 2019 DAM Practitioner’s Summit

The Insight Exchange Network (IEN) staged its second annual DAM conference in New York this January.  Last year’s conference, ‘The Digital Assets & Content Leadership Exchange’ garnered positive feedback from DAM Guru Program members, which was kindly compiled by Carol Thomas-Knipes and is available to read here.

We posed a series of questions to delegates who attended, the responses for which are presented below.  A number of common themes have emerged from this year’s round of feedback, including the importance of the Digital Asset Manager’s role, the misunderstanding of how to achieve and measure ROI, and the general level of interest aroused by discussions surrounding user-centric issues such as poor adoption due to insufficient training.

A lot of responses were collected, so we have separated the article into two parts.  The first includes insights from the following gurus:

The follow-up piece features the feedback from these delegates:

We would like to thank everyone who responded for giving us their feedback and allowing us to share it with the DAM community.

What were the most useful insights you gained from the IEN conference?

Tracey Wolfe

From Margie Foster in the Executive Roundtable:

 – Set up a side chat channel for DAM team kvetching. Important to commiserate regarding requests and issues from users. Venting is good – sometimes leads to solutions too.

– AI is not an OR situation (AI or humans). At this stage it is an AND – AI must be monitored, auto tagging reviewed by humans.

Anne Graham

My biggest takeaway from the IEN DAM conference was that despite superficial differences like the culture of the organization, type of asset, and location within the corporate structure, everyone is really dealing with the same issues. We’re trying to balance user access versus intellectual property rights, to educate our users and stakeholders on the importance of proactively managing assets, and looking for opportunities to automate to mitigate decreasing headcount. It’s helpful to come together with people who face the same issues and talk to them about their solutions.

Fred Robertson

The focus on end users was really interesting and repeated a lot throughout the conference. Empathy for them, investing in them, listening to them, meeting their needs, speaking for them, etc. We’re nothing without users and it was nice to hear so many folks talk about how they engage with their users and how hard they work towards rewarding them. Quotes like “walk the customer journey”, “meet users where they are” and “listen to the naysayers” have all stayed with me.

 I also especially liked the American Cancer Society (ACS) case study. That was an eye opener. It really showed the amount of dedication that can go into the process and reap huge rewards for everyone involved. Would love to see more of these. The 2018 conference had a couple of these which were also really great.

Pauline Lopez

The best part of the IEN conference were the insights it provided into a Digital Asset Manager’s role in their company, the support they are given or need to seek, and their expectations about their position. While other DAM conference place the focus on new cutting edge technology or impressive large-scale projects, this conference was a great reminder that the success of a Digital Asset Manager is not necessarily linked to the technology that they choose, but instead depends on the relationships that they can develop and the goals that they set for themselves.

What DAM-related subjects are currently the most interesting for you and was that reflected at IEN?

Anne Graham

I’m currently in the process of standing up a couple of new systems, developing a metadata schema, and updating policies and procedures. These initiatives take resources to implement and maintain. I think an overarching theme to the conference this year was effective resource management, whether it’s staffing, funding, or time. I found it informative to learn how DAM professionals are managing their current resources and how they’re trying to expand user services. It’s a topic that’s constantly on my mind.

Fred Robertson

I was quite taken with the ‘Elevating Your Role’ discussion. Allowing a panel to talk about how they came to the role and what they’ve done professionally seemed to be a crowd pleaser topic and one that would really benefit future attendees. It felt like a real and genuine sharing of stories and ideas. I’d love to see more on this topic.

 Coming out of the conference I’ve been thinking a lot about the topic of sustainability and ways in which to illustrate the ongoing value in a DAM. Other ideas which were talked about that struck a chord include – committing to maintenance, scaling a DAM and building cross functional relationships. These lead me to thinking about finding ways to communicate with users that are not disruptive and allow for constant engagement with users and hopefully building a user community.

Pauline Lopez

I’m really interested in how to find success and adoption with your user base. While there wasn’t a direct panel on this at IEN, this thread often did come up across panels, since it’s such an important topic for Digital Asset Managers.

Do you think the ROI from DAM is properly understood by users? If not, what would help to demonstrate its value?

Anne Graham

Users don’t understand the value of media management because it’s only apparent when there’s a problem: assets are lost or corrupted, rights holders threaten legal action, or systems interfere with day-to-day activities. If everything is going as it should, media management is invisible to users. I think we as DAM professionals must move beyond the notion of ROI, because we’re always going to be cost centers, to one of added value. As an example, consistent and relevant metadata adds value to an asset. Regular monitoring and reporting ensure long-term preservation of assets. DAM is a value chain.

Fred Robertson

I do think ROI is understood by users. I just don’t think that they spend a lot of time considering it. While they do want to know what’s in it for them, they really just want to get what they need and keep moving.

 To that end, if we’re successful with our DAM, the ROI for users is their ability to work faster and our ability to relieve them of tasks which take up too much of their time or that are better suited as tasks for the digital asset manager. 

 Personally I think management doesn’t properly understand ROI as it applies to DAM. Mostly because they do not understand DAM. Their expectations need to orient more towards having a knowledge base that informs them first (about how DAM works) so they can better focus on ROIs which are both attainable and properly aligned the business need. They also need to fully support and participate in any change management initiative if they want a true and accurate ROI.

Pauline Lopez

Most users I’ve worked with do understand DAM systems can create an ROI through efficiencies gained and errors avoided. However, leadership may not always be so ready to embrace that a DAM can provide ROI, just because they are so far removed from day-to-day tasks.

 I think demonstrating the value of a DAM should be tackled in a few ways. Of course, you can survey your colleagues, gathering numbers about hours spent per task, see where a DAM can save you time and then calculate ROI in dollar amounts. Another approach that I plan on taking is to conduct the Maturity Model survey that Henrik de Gyor spoke about at the conference. I’d like to survey my department currently to get a baseline reading of where they feel we’re at and then continue to send out the survey every six months to see where we’ve made improvements. While the survey doesn’t explicitly relate to ROI, it does a good job of illuminating the frustrations employees feel when operating in the Ad Hoc or Incipient levels and the potentials available to reach Operational and Optimal levels. No one in leadership positions should want to know that their employees are operating based on outdated, unadvanced asset management models and that they’re not putting in any efforts to improve their situation.

Has DAM really innovated in the last five years and if so, in what ways?

Anne Graham

DAM has some significant innovations on the horizon, like AI and machine learning, which may be able to automate some aspects of asset description and preservation. However, I don’t think these have come to fruition. Skilled professionals are still needed to construct and maintain the data models, metadata schema, taxonomies, ontologies, retention schedules, and preservation rules. In some respects, the profession is cutting-edge. In others, it adheres to established practice in archival science, information science, records management, and digital and physical preservation.

Fred Robertson

This one is hard to answer since I’ve only ever been involved with DAM systems I have managed at any one time – which is not a huge variety. Without close examination of other tools it’s hard to know about innovations and difficult to pay attention fully to industry trends.

That said, over the past two years I’ve been involved in the implementations of two different DAM systems. In both cases I felt too many compromises had to be made because the chosen system either couldn’t do simple tasks or required expensive customizations for functionality which really should have been included out of the box. Developers put up too many roadblocks throughout these processes and failed to understand the most basic of needs of a DAM.

 Additionally, throughout both projects I was unable to participate in the process at a level that allowed my expertise to be a constructive addition to development. Here again is where I feel management and even operations or systems managers do not understand the role enough to allow the asset manager to be (at the very least) an equal partner.

 I describe those examples because they’ve left me to wonder why companies (large ones at that) are making sure poor system choices. Systems which show a lack of understanding or innovation in their functionality and the ability to fulfill many basic requirements as DAMs. I’m sure there are systems and innovations which I am unaware of. Admittedly it is an area where I feel my knowledge is lacking.

Pauline Lopez

I think that the image of a perfect end-to-end system that can take a digital asset from its inception to its final home in an archive has not really materialized. It seems that now the goal is to almost make the DAM disappear for the user. The Digital Asset manager continues to provide organizational structure and metadata for the asset through a DAM, but through APIs, the user accesses the assets in the environments where they need to conduct their work.

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

Anne Graham

Coming from a digital archivist background, I’m always interested in seeing how DAM/MAM vendors and professionals apply the OAIS Reference Model and the Trusted Digital Repository Checklist (ISO 16363) to the preservation of digital objects. I’d like to see more discussion of how adoption is being achieved, as well as dealing with obstacles.

Fred Robertson

I’d love to see more case studies like the ACS one this year. Also, less redundancy of topics or generic overviews – there wasn’t much of this, but a couple of times it felt like we were repeating ourselves. More success stories – or even failures – would be great.

 The Maturity Model discussion was a nice dive into the topic and I found it very useful. I would love to see something similar done covering Governance. A panel or case study with examples of how asset managers build a governance board and what their interactions look like. I think this would be tremendously helpful.

 I’d love to see a panel of systems and/or operations managers – not digital asset managers per se – but DAM Product owners or stake holders within large companies who can speak about the best ways to influence management and instill the need and importance of DAM. There are many stories about tools being purchased by companies where the asset manager is not included in high level conversations around system selection – mine being a first-hand example. I’d love to hear from people in those roles who understood the need to rely on an asset manager for input, to involved them in the process and were successful doing so.

 Lastly, I think a discussion around how to manage both work in progress (WIP) files alongside or separate from final marketing assets and creative file packages is a topic that begs a panel and/or a case study. I think it’s one of the biggest challenges for asset managers and was touched on at the very end of the conference during the final panel and left me wanting more.

How do you see DAM developing over the next few years based on both what you know from your own experience and what you learned at this event?

Anne Graham

It’s my hope that DAM practitioners can move the discussion of asset management from ROI to the value chain framework. I think that will elevate our expertise and experience within organizations and the profession. We have a lot to offer, but I don’t think anyone is currently taking advantage of our true potential.

Fred Robertson

This year’s event reminded us that Artificial Intelligence (AI) still has a way to go before it can be a reliable tool to use as part of any DAM system. But I do see it developing further and likely becoming a useful extension (in some form) of DAM systems in the coming years.

 My hope for DAM over the next few years is for greater adoption by companies large and small and (hopefully) as a result, larger asset management teams. For all our frustrations as asset managers and being (in most cases) a department of one, I feel the move towards building larger teams, either directly focused on asset management or through user groups or governance boards, that the role will continue to be elevated. I realize this is ambitious thinking, but I do think the needle is moving in that direction. No matter how slow.

 The unfortunate development I see continuing with DAM is the continued proliferation of add-on tools and feature sets which are either unnecessary or not universally useful. Various web products designed for social and/or third party posts – Amazon, etc. – which add complexity and confusion rather than providing meaningful functionality. I’ve been on too many sales calls where the pitch never really lands because the tool has to fit into parameters which are so narrowly defined as to be not relevant to the business case.

What was your overall experience of IEN and would you go again?

Anne Graham

I really enjoyed the intimacy of this the IEN DAM 2019 conference. I felt engaged by my fellow attendees in ways that I don’t at larger meetings. The panel discussions were provocative and conversational rather than didactic and I especially enjoyed the discussions that sprang up organically between sessions. I will definitely return.

Fred Robertson

My overall experience was very positive. I’ve been to both IEN DAM conferences and I would go again as well. I think as it evolves it might need to think about new ways to engage repeat attendees who seek further development and communication with their colleagues and who might not need to attend each panel or presentation. I’m not sure what that looks like exactly, because I really do love the intimacy of the room and the way in which we’re able spend focused time discussing things with our table mates between presentations. I liked the breakaway portion in 2018 where we formed groups and collaborated, but again, I’m not exactly sure how that might work if brought back.

 Ultimately the opportunity to meet and talk to other DAM professionals is the real reward. I leave each day wishing I had more time to talk with more attendees and share experiences of working in Digital Asset Management.

 This year’s conference was significantly shorter than last year – a day and half instead of nearly three days – which was unfortunate. I’m sure there was good reason to shorten it but would have loved at the very least a second full day.

Pauline Lopez

I thought IEN provided a great alternative to vendor-heavy conferences. No one was there trying to sell you anything and you got to hear from DAM veterans with 20+ years of experience under their belt. I really found that valuable and I would go again.

The second part of this series presents more feedback from other IEN delegates.

Guru Voices: DGP Member Insights from the IEN Digital Asset (DAM) & Content Leadership Exchange

Change is happening whether we are ready for it or not. That was one of the major sentiments of The Digital Assets & Content Leadership Exchange presented by Insight Exchange Network in January 2018 in New York. (The keynote from Dieter Reichert, from Censhare deserves its own blog post!) Though this conference is a new player in the Digital Asset Management conference space, this gathering of DAM and Content professionals provided deep dive discussions on a wide range of DAM/CM-related topics, and tips on navigating change.

We have gathered a few of our DAM Gurus who attended and asked them to provide insights on the conference and how it made them think about “The State of DAM”. We thank them for their feedback. Participating Gurus are:

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

“What topics are hot, garnering the most interest and discussion?”

  • “Metrics for DAM, rights management, the importance of DAM experts running DAM systems” – Tracy Wolfe
  • “How do you do your DAM?” This conference was an excellent opportunity for DAM professionals to learn about how other organizations deploy their DAM. – Margie Foster
  • “DAM is part of an ecosystem – data must flow from upstream systems and flow to downstream systems” – Mindy Carner
  • “AI dominated the conversation at the conference. DAM professionals want to understand how artificial intelligence will affect the industry.  Will we be replaced by robots?  How will AI tagging change our workflows?  Can AI alleviate our tagging workflows? – Jennifer Anna

What’s been talked about in the hallways between panels?

  • Integrating systems, differences in digital strategies and maturity levels, how to acquire new skills, which new skills to acquire– Tracy Wolfe
  • I mostly noticed how different our jobs are. Even though we are all considered DAM in some capacity, we all do different projects in our day-to-day. Some of us implement, others create workflows, others just focus on metadata and taxonomy, and others do everything. – Erin McElrath


Where are you seeing the lines between technologies & solutions blurring, and what are your thoughts on that?  (For example: DAM & CM, DAM & PIM, DAM & AI?)

  • DAM should be solution agnostic in order to serve multiple needs and evolve with the changing platforms. – Maria Shippee
  • I think that I see the lines between DAM and CM blurring the most.  I think that anything should be considered an “asset,” not just traditional resources like images and videos or documents, but also pieces of content whether they are articles or chapters or sections or lessons or assessment questions. – Tracy Wolfe
  • DAM & CM are the most common pairing but still not seamless. If any of these technologies blend, it’ll be these two.  DAM & PIM — outside of vendor demos I haven’t seen an instance that is a total solve.  DAM & AI — a lot of good work is underway, but still early days.  Definitely, an area to keep an eye on.– Margie Foster
  • We are only as good as our tools. – Erin McElrath
  • The biggest point here is just about getting the metadata into alignment. The solutions can blur into one another all they want, but there will never be a one-tool fit all solution, but there absolutely MUST be a single, strategic metadata plan to protect data quality by flowing product, marketing, and discovery data with the asset through its lifecycle. – Mindy Carner
  • “At the conference, I didn’t see many examples of system integrations except among a few large broadcast and publishing companies.  My impression is companies are still struggling to make sense of their stand-alone systems. During the panel discussion, I asked a panelist who is responsible for providing solutions to a variety of different clients about whether there is CMS-DAM integration. She noted it was rare. – Jennifer Anna

Did the conference give you ideas on how DAM is evolving? Some say the traditional role of DAM dying, did the conference dive into this area at all, and what are your thoughts?

  • I would say that DAM is expanding scope, not dying.  I do think there is room for growth to incorporate aspects like the expansion of the definition of an asset, tools for automation, and also better reporting and metrics. – Tracy Wolfe
  • I think the idea of a static DAM is giving way to the notion of a dynamic DAM. You should expect and plan for a DAM that can adapt to other evolving content delivery technologies.– Margie Foster
  • I did get validation on my idea that DAM is evolving, but I’m noticing that DAM managers are hesitant to adapt. – Erin McElrath
  • The conference offered a few panels on this topic, but I feel like there could have been a deeper dive on this topic.  Perhaps segmented the topic into different areas including employment and professional development opportunities, technology evolution, and information architecture.  Alternatively, it would have been helpful to have industry specialists discuss their observations about the industry.  All of the speakers were fantastic, a great group of capable, talented people, but I felt the conversations could’ve gone deeper. – Jennifer Anna

What did you leave the conference thinking the next big thing in DAM will be?

  • While AI was a hot topic, the verdict was that it is not ready for the masses. Trending now are the new file formats, like the 360 imagery used for augmented reality. With the release of the new iPhone and the widespread use of Photoshop, these file types will easily be the next big thing. – Maria Shippee
  • Honestly, I hope it’s AI, especially to harvest pertinent data from other content systems within an organization. – Margie Foster
  • The next big thing will be seeing content as a whole. we no longer provide a repository, we create workflows and adapt to the current business model of the company. – Erin McElrath
  • System vendors will be forced to innovate to support major media companies, specifically sports organizations who create and must process terabytes of data in a single day. Systems right now aren’t meeting their needs and this will inevitably lead to disruption of those vendors that currently support these groups. Systems need to be nimble and able to handle the quantity and speed of content processing. – Mindy Carner
  • Linked data has potential for the DAM industry. – Jennifer Anna

What surprised you the most from this conference?

  • DAM is being used in so many different industries, in some any unique ways, yet we all struggle with the same issues. – Maria Shippee
  • How much I learned.  It was a very collaborative environment, a room full of expertise. I enjoyed Monday so much that I went back Wednesday. – Tracy Wolfe
  • The majority in attendance were Digital Asset Managers, not vendors and that was FANTASTIC! – Margie Foster
  • The small size of the conference, combined with the group table set up (not the big round tables that you might have to yell across, but small rectangle tables that allowed for more intimate conversation) made this conference a superior networking experience. People really got to know each other over the three days and it felt more personal than larger events. – Mindy Carner

Look out for some more detailed blog posts on Digital Asset Management from these Gurus in the coming months. And we would love to hear from you too! If you attended The Digital Assets & Content Leadership Exchange, email us at We look forward to seeing more from Insight Exchange Network on Digital Asset and Content Management in the future.

See the Forest: 6 Tips for Digital Asset Management (DAM) Sustainability

Photo by Tim Schramm on Unsplash

As technologists, especially in digital asset management (DAM), we often work in feature-rich systems. One system can do a lot and be utilized for multiple purposes. That flexibility and the capability to be a content hub is one of the reasons DAMs have become desired systems in the enterprise.

When implementing digital asset management solutions, we gather requirements, assess our focus technologies, align requirements to capabilities, then go to our tech to build. But, we are in a unique position to take a step back from just feature-function and problem-solving. To see the forest for the trees as it were. To create solutions that are not just purpose-built, but have a sustainable purpose. An ecosystem, not just a shrub.

Here are 6 tips for DAM Sustainability to keep you out of the weeds:

  1. Make sure you can always clearly answer these two questions: “What problems are we trying to solve?” and “What will success look like?”. Keeping these questions front-of-mind will keep you focused on building a DAM solution with a solid purpose.
  2. Don’t ignore processes, content, and data outside of the departments that will use the digital asset management system (DAM). An essential component of DAM sustainability is connecting with people in those departments who can assist you in understanding how the DAM could or will touch their worlds.
  3. Define content providers and consumers of the DAM, including people, systems, and processes. Map them out in detail (e.g. using brief surveys and interviews). Again, branch out. There are likely overlaps and inefficiencies to uncover that are being felt. Improving those processes (if you can) as part of your solution ecosystem will make the solution stronger.
  4. A caveat to #3, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. Shoe-horning a solution where one is not needed does not add value. Pick your battles wisely.
  5. Let the technology inspire you not box you. Many parts of the solution will NOT involve tech. Exposing non-technical issues and solving them in the context of the DAM project can increase its value in the business.
  6. Go back to #1. When you are about to roll out, remember “What will success look like?” equals “What’s in it for me?”. Define and communicate the solution’s purpose, but also tailor the message to all levels. Not just future users, but stakeholders, financial sponsors and the business as a whole. Then check-in regularly to verify value is being realized and felt. Pivot your message, and perhaps solution priorities if needed.

What digital asset management tips do you have? We’d love to hear from you. If you have more DAM sustainability tips, email us! DAM Guru Program would love to publish your suggestions as blog posts. Help other DGP members build and maintain more sustainable solutions.

Carol Thomas-Knipes is the Director, Digital Asset Management at LogicSource.

Photo by Tim Schramm on Unsplash

New Digital Asset Management (DAM) Conference Arrives in New York

A new digital asset management (DAM) conference is on the horizon in 2018. Organizer ‘Insight Exchange Network’ is presenting their Digital Assets & Content Leadership Exchange in New York on January 22-24, 2018. It looks to be a conference focused on educational insights from many in the DAM and Content industry.  The three days span a variety of industries, speaking about innovation, efficiencies, strategies, and evolution in the industry.

A brief description from IEN website:

As content velocity increases and the volume of digital assets grow exponentially, maximizing those assets’ value hinges on managing them effectively. Navigating the growing number of technologies and strategies to steward your organization’s digital assets and content to ensure their greatest ROI requires substantive solutions! 

This uniquely crafted event is practitioner-led and focused on the current challenges facing asset and content managers, how to generate additional value from your assets and content, the ins-and-outs of the evolving role, career path planning, and strategies to elevate your position within the organization.

Many of our very own DAM Guru Program members will be participating in this conference come January. Some digital asset management experts who are scheduled to speak include Jennifer Terbosic, Nila Bernstengel, John Horodyski, Alexander Karinsky, Carol Thomas-Knipes, Henrik de Gyor, Jennifer Anna, Margie Foster and many more.

Stay informed during the event with their conference hashtag: #IENDAM or learn more on the Digital Assets & Content Leadership Exchange Conference Website.


7 Tips for Digital Asset Management (DAM) Meetup Group Sustainability

When I started out as a digital asset management administrator, one of my first stops was to the NYCDAM Meetup Group.  I had heard about them at Henry Stewart and Createasphere and was seeking real-world advice on best practices, user acceptance, and a host of other issues involved in managing a DAM. No disrespect to our vendor friends, but I needed to know less about the art of the possible, and more about day-to-day reality.

NYCDAM was just what I needed. I met so many wonderful, smart people who were so willing to share their experience and expertise to help me succeed. Not only did I learn about a wide range of topics and issues, but I got to share my own experiences and get feedback—a helpful thing for professionals at all levels. Over time, I went from regular attendee to occasional panelist, to eventually becoming an organizer.

This year, as a result of my roles with DAM Guru Program and the NYCDAM Meetup group, I had more contact with meetup organizers and members. I started to notice a trend of DAM and Content Management Meetups losing momentum, and not having as many events. Then, this summer, three or four organizers of Meetups dropped out, and a few other Meetups just ended. Some of the reasons are probably fairly common: Lack of time and resources, low attendance at events, lack of sponsorship to offset costs. It’s a hard thing to do and sustain on your own, I know well.

The NYCDAM Meetup has shifted organizers a bit in the past few years, but from those shifts, I’ve gleaned sustainability tips for growing and strengthening a Successful DAM Meetup Group:

  1. Reach out and ask other members to be co– or assistant organizers. If you are running a Meetup on your own, as it grows and becomes more successful, you will eventually find yourself buried, and the Meetup will fall by the wayside. Running an entire Meetup can become overwhelming, and it’s a lot to manage when you already have a full-time job.
  2. Allow people to be involved at varying levels, and try to have 3 or more organizers at each level. Spreading the workload prevents burnout, but also brings more ideas to the table:
    1. Main Organizers: Long-term commitment and vision. Oversee general running of the group. Provide 10,000-foot-view of goals of the group and its events. Networks with industry people, in and out of the group, to grow membership and expand event scope
    2. Event Organizers: Short-term, high-level commitment for duration of event planning. They pick the topic, lead and collaborate on the panelists, subject and agenda. Manage event logistics
    3. Event Assistance: Short-term, low-level commitment. Much needed “boots on the ground” on the day-of
  3. Involve vendors, but be sure you define the rules of the road. You likely want your events to be user-focused and not devolve into vendor marketing or demos. But, your vendor contacts can introduce you to potential members and panelists, or can provide appropriate venues at little or no cost. See if they can connect you with users in your area who can share their experiences and a user-based view on varying technologies. Remember that vendor’s tech may only be one in their integrated solution stack. That perspective could be very helpful to meetup members.
  4. Associations can be another great resource for speakers, topic, and venues. Reach out to your local library, tech, or archiving associations to see if they will partner with your Meetup
  5. Use online services/apps to stay connected with organizers at all levels. Many collaboration services have free options that are sufficient for a small group like a Meetup. Here are a just a few that we and many other groups use:
    1. Slack (collaboration and event management)
    2. Zoom Conference (high-quality web & video conferencing. Note: the free option limits you to 40 minutes per call, but that actually makes your meetings surprisingly efficient!)
    3. Google Hangouts (collaboration & video conferencing)
    4. Doodle (polls facilitating meeting scheduling)
  6. Sign up for Meetups just outside of your area that are thriving. Partner with other meetups in your state or wider geographical area. If the Meetup is thriving, you may be able to connect with members who are willing to be speakers at your events as well, either in person or virtually. And, in general, it will expand recognition of your group in other areas.
  7. Ask your members for help. If general tasks become overwhelming, get your membership involved. They don’t need to take on full roles; but on an ad hoc basis, they can help you sustain the Meetup group’s momentum.

Do you have any other suggestions? We’d love to hear from you. Many of our members belong to Meetups or are organizers themselves. If you have some sustainability tips for a DAM Meetup Group, email them to me! DAM Guru Program would love to publish your suggestions as blog posts. Your advice could help fellow DGP members keep their groups going.

If you are looking for Meetups in your area, check out our Meetups Page with a handy list of known DAM-related Meetups worldwide. If we are missing one, please let us know and we will add it to the list!

Guru Share: NJ DAM Meetup Recording – Metadata Automation

As part of the DAM Guru Program initiative to connect people and expand DAM education, we will be sharing deliverables from relevant DAM group events. The “Guru Share” is a way to expand DAM knowledge provided by peers, and promote the great content being discussed and dissected by these groups worldwide.

Our first share, a video recording of “Metadata Automation,” from the New Jersey Digital Asset Management Meetup from 14 Dec 2016. The impressive panel for this month’s virtual meetup included David Riecks, Mark Walter and Picturepark’s Peter Parker. Meetup organizers Deb Fanslow and Frank DiCarlo hosted the #LearnDAM event.

All organizers and panelists (except for Mr. Walter) are active members of DAM Guru Program.

Video recording of DAM Guru Program members, David Riecks, Spencer Harris and Picturepark’s Peter Parker, with Mark Walter, speaking on Metadata Automation from 12 December 2016 New Jersey DAM Meetup.

About the panelists

Peter Parker  is an experienced technology manager, DAM integration expert, and workflow evangelist who maintains a focus on providing real world solutions that enable users. He works for Picturepark in the United States, helping customers design and deploy systems. Connect with Peter Parker on LinkedIn.

David Riecks is a sought-after consultant on digital imaging and metadata. He is involved in recent standards initiatives, and has been a featured speaker at PhotoPlus Expo, Microsoft’s Pro Photo Summit and several of the International Photo Metadata conferences held at CEPIC. Riecks has appeared in the popular Picturepark webinars, DAM and the Tao of Taxonomy and The Copyright Killings. Connect with David Riecks on LinkedIn.

Spencer Harris offers more than eight years’ experience in development, analysis, processing and training of digital asset management solutions, workflows, and processes for small and large creative organizations. He offers a understanding of best practices related to hardware setup, taxonomy, keyword usage, and metadata structure. Connect with Spencer Harris on LinkedIn.

Mark Walter is a veteran consultant, analyst and marketer who has broad experience with content technologies in corporate and commercial publishing contexts. Walter has more than 20 years’ experience as a content/media/publishing technology analyst and consultant. Connect with Mark Walter on LinkedIn.

New DAM Book: Metadata for Content Management

Metadata for Content Management book cover

Metadata for Content Management by David Diamond

DAM Guru Program creator, David Diamond, has released a new book entitled, Metadata for Content Management. It’s David’s first book release since DAM Survival Guide, back in 2012.

Metadata for Content Management helps digital content managers design better content organization strategies, and envision and deploy creative ways in which metadata, taxonomy, policy and workflow can be used to make digital content systems more usable, functional and valuable to users.

(In case you’re wondering, the people on the cover are David’s parents.)

You can learn more about the book and see a table of contents at David’s book website. You can buy it now on Amazon.

DAM Ready Reference


Librarian Tips for DAM Managers

DAM Ready Reference

by Deb Fanslow, MLIS

Often, DAM professionals are the sole information managers at the helm within an organization, tasked with ingesting, cataloging, managing, securing, distributing, preserving, and providing access to a collection of digital assets. This involves juggling a multitude of responsibilities, some of which are centered around designing and maintaining the information architecture of a DAM system:

  • Designing and maintaining metadata schemas
  • Developing taxonomies and controlled vocabularies
  • Customizing search functionality
  • Designing, configuring, and developing user interfaces

Digital asset management also involves many behind-the-scenes administrative tasks that are essential to keeping a DAM system well oiled and running, such as:

  • Curating, cataloging, and managing digital assets throughout the digital asset lifecycle
  • Developing, monitoring, and customizing workflows
  • Monitoring, reporting, and analyzing DAM system statistics
  • Creating and maintaining user accounts and permissions
  • System maintenance (upgrades, bug fixes, upgrades, testing, patches, rebuilds, etc.)
  • Planning and overseeing system customizations and integrations

Of course, beyond customizing and maintaining the DAM system and its information architecture, there’s also the not so trivial responsibility of determining and meeting user’s needs, including:

  • Creating, documenting, and reviewing policies and procedures
  • Providing technical support
  • Developing and delivering training programs
  • Designing web portals for internal and/or external user access
  • User testing and feedback

Last but certainly not least, there’s the DAM program itself and the requisite ongoing planning, responsibilities, and maintenance that cannot be neglected, such as:

  • Governance (metadata, taxonomy, workflow, rights management, distribution, storage, etc.)
  • Digital preservation (asset integrity, storage management, disaster planning, etc.)
  • Program management (strategic planning, staffing, budgeting, etc.)
  • Advocacy and promotion campaigns

With this wide range of responsibilities on the digital asset manager’s plate, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. When faced with a DAM challenge, where’s a digital asset manager to turn? If you’re lucky, you can consult with a librarian, archivist, records manager, knowledge manager, or other information professional on staff who may be able to help you with burning questions such as:

  • So many metadata standards, so little time…which fields do I really need?
  • How can I integrate our enterprise taxonomy with my DAM system’s search platform?
  • What steps can I take to best preserve my company’s digital assets for the long term?

However, if you’re the only person steering the DAM ship (or you just want to extend your personal learning network), another option is to tap into the knowledge base of those who have experience dealing with the management of digital collections and thorny information management challenges…the Library and Information Science (LIS) community.

First, the good news: the LIS community maintains a longstanding culture of sharing and publishing research, case studies, best practices, and lessons learned throughout its 50+ year history of information management (built upon knowledge organizational principles dating back to antiquity). Over the past two decades, a significant body of knowledge related to curating and managing digital asset collections has been amassed and published within the library, archival, and museum communities. Now for the bad news: not all of this information is freely available. Due to the longstanding publishing and tenure models within the scholarly community, access to a large portion of LIS knowledge sits secured behind scholarly database walls. However, thankfully there are many passionate info pros who also freely disseminate their wisdom on the web, just ripe for the picking.

Exploring the Virtual Reference Shelf

Below are links to some of my favorite free resources created by info pros who are involved with digital asset management within the public, private, and nonprofit sectors:

General DAM resources

DAM implementation


  • Metadata (Marcia Lei Zeng, 2011): this website is an online textbook companion, which is worth browsing for its comprehensive reading lists and appendices of resources.
  • Cultural Objects Digitization Planning: Metadata (Janice L. Eklund, 2012): if you’re planning an image digitization project, consult this guide from the Visual Resources Association to learn about questions to consider, minimal metadata requirements, and best practices.
  • FADGI Guidelines: this set of guidelines from the Feds includes frameworks, methodologies, and technical recommendations for digitizing still images and audiovisual works.
  • Video metadata modeling for DAM systems (Tom Bachmann, 2010): this article provides thorough and detailed coverage of metadata schema design for video.
  • Descriptive Metadata in the Music Industry: Why It Is Broken And How to Fix It (Tony Brooke, 2014): this comprehensive report identifies the need for descriptive metadata standards specific to the music industry, along with a proposed metadata schema standard.


  • Taxonomy Fundamentals Workshop (Marjorie M.K. Hlava, 2013): this presentation covers taxonomy basics, how to leverage and access taxonomies, and relevant standards to be aware of.
  • Using a Taxonomy for Your Database or Website: A Look Behind the Scenes (Marjorie M.K. Hlava, 2013): this brief article balances technical information with well placed visuals to describe how taxonomies and thesauri are stored and associated within various types of databases.
  • Taxonomies in Search (Marjorie M.K. Hlava, 2011): if you’re looking to learn more about how information retrieval works and how taxonomy drives effective search, look no further.
  • Success Factors in Building an Enterprise Taxonomy (Stephanie Lemieux, 2014): this brief article lists several factors to consider before embarking on your next enterprise taxonomy project.
  • What is Facet Analysis? (Ian Matzen, 2014): if you need to create a faceted classification system, this brief article presents a good introduction, along with examples and informative references.
  • Taxonomy Bootcamp: for the past couple of years, presentations from this conference have been available for free online. Get ‘em while they’re hot!

Digital preservation

Reference services

User Experience (UX)

Semantic Web

  • Linked Data for Libraries (OCLC, 2012): Got 15 minutes? Although this video is presented within the context of sharing bibliographic data, most of the concepts and visuals are universally applicable.
  • Linked Data: Evolving the Web into a Global Data Space* (Tom Heath & Christian Bizer, 2011):
    This free eBook provides a brief explanation of the concepts behind the Semantic Web and Linked Data, then progresses quickly into a highly detailed technical introduction.

*Although the following resources are not free, they are worthy of mention here. There are many additional books in the Synthesis Lectures on the Semantic Web: Theory and Technology series that are worth exploring, as well as those in the Information Concepts, Retrieval, and Services series. For those interested in the history, concepts, and implementation of taxonomies, I strongly recommend Marjorie M.K. Hlava’s Taxobook series.

Going Underground

Now for some tips on discovering more elusive gems from within the academic LIS community. If you’re willing to spend a little time digging, you can always partake in one of my favorite activities…mining resources offered through DAM related academic courses and professional communities. It’s like being a student without the interminable loans and tests! Here are some tactics that have proven effective for unearthing all sorts of educational jewels:

  • Examine a few syllabi for DAM related courses and topics, and you will often be rewarded with links to seminal research articles, recommended reading, blogs, conferences, presentations, and more. This can also be an excellent way to quickly profile and monitor DAM related topics, as well as identify relevant researchers, industry leaders, publications, terminology, issues, and challenges. Over time, you can even discover trends within the disciplines and fields themselves (assuming the institution you’re researching updates their curricula frequently in response to industry demands). Here are some of my favorite sources to start with:
  • Discover pearls of DAM wisdom within scholarly hubs and open access publications such as:
  • Take advantage of free or low cost DAM related resources and education available through LIS organizations, including:
    • ASIS&T (Association for Information Science and Technology)
    • LITA (Library and Information Technology Association)
    • SAA (Society of American Archivists)
    • AMIA (Association of Moving Image Archivists)
    • MCN (Museum Computer Network)
    • SPECTRUM DAM Resources (Collections Trust)
    • VRA (Visual Resources Association)
  • And of course, don’t forget about national libraries, many of which are involved in setting standards and best practices, exploring emerging technologies, and sharing educational resources.

Whether you work alone as a DAM Superhero or as part of a DAM team, the practice of digital asset management presents many universal challenges across all industries, as well as more specific strategies and solutions that can likely be adapted within diverse environments. When you’re faced with your next DAM challenge, don’t reinvent the wheel…leverage the collective intelligence of the entire DAM community!

About Deb Fanslow

Deb has over 7 years of experience in information management within the library, museum, and education fields. She specializes in Digital Asset Management (DAM), which is informed by working in the trenches for 13 years as a graphic designer within the publishing industry. She participates in the DAM industry as a Board Member of the DAM Foundation, the founder and head curator of The DAM Directory, and a co-organizer of the NYC DAM Meetup. Deb is a contributing writer for DAM News, and has also worked behind the scenes on various DAM educational initiatives, including DAM Guru Program and the #LearnDAM initiative.

Deb has been a DAM Guru Program member since February, 2014. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

Read more from the “Librarian Tips for DAM Managers” DAM Guru Program series »

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