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: help@damguru.com if you have any questions.

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.

Insight Exchange Network 2nd DAM Summit, New York, 24th-25th January 2019

This post was contributed by DAM Guru member, Jeffrey Marino.


Bring on a DAM Happy New Year at the 2nd Annual Digital Asset Management Summit 2019, hosted in NYC by Insight Exchange Network. The conference takes place on January 24th -25th next year and promises to highlight and elevate the importance of effective digital asset management strategies for the enterprise.

We hereby resolve to meet up with DAM Guru Program members and to 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:

  • The DAM value proposition
  • Metadata, mindset & AI
  • Systems integration
  • Platform fit
  • User Experience and adoption
  • Brand library, archive and history

IEN is a new nexus of information and expertise for DAM practitioners. Last year the conference debuted as The Digital Assets & Content Leadership Exchange:

“The overall sentiment was that the IEN event was a success and the fact that the majority of attendees were DAM managers and professionals (as opposed to vendors) resulted in a more personal and expertise-based event.” [Read More]

The 2019 Summit again brings together experts in a wide span of business categories ranging from broadcasters to e-commerce, retail, food and packaged goods, non-profits and content marketing. Among others, we are looking forward to hearing updates from Dan Piro at NHL and Sally Hubbard at PBS (both of whom we mentioned in our Reflections On The 2018 Digital Asset Symposium), and we will certainly welcome the perspective of all of this year’s presenters, including heavyweights like Amazon, Adobe, Dell and Turner Sports.

The agenda is a balanced mix of breakout and networking sessions, four in-depth case studies and five panel discussions (one of which, Vendor Selection, Management, and DAM Essentials, is moderated by one of our very own: DAM Guru Ralph Windsor.)

Let’s meet up! (yes, there’s a cocktail hour too). Please visit the 2nd Annual Digital Asset Management Summit 2019 website for more information and to register to attend.

DAM Guru Program members: be sure to use code M123DNDG15 to get a 15% discount on the cost of the Summit.

Henry Stewart DAM San Diego 2018 Conference Review

This article was contributed by DAM Guru member, Lisa Grimm.


Although I’ve been a regular Henry Stewart DAM NY attendee for years, this was my first visit to the west coast’s version of the event, and I was pleased to see that it’s grown to be nearly as large as its east-coast counterpart (with the added advantage of having beautiful November weather). But perhaps the most encouraging aspect of this year’s conference the variety of organizations sending speakers and exhibitors; while I’d seen previous DAMLA programs had been very much media and entertainment-industry heavy, DAM San Diego was very well-balanced indeed. Yes, there were the expected studios and media conglomerates with welcome knowledge to share, but also a wide range of museums, arts and tech speakers. DAM has clearly moved beyond the CPG and advertising spaces, and its importance is being recognized across an ever-wider range of industries.

But while the places DAM is deployed grow ever-more varied, its foundations remain rooted – and rightfully so – in metadata and operations. I was thrilled to be asked to speak on the metadata track, with my presentation on The Seven Circles of Metadata Hell; I suspect everyone in the DAM field has been in the position at some point in their careers where they have been asked to justify the cost of hiring expert librarians and data managers to oversee metadata creation and maintenance, and seeing it continue to get such a focus at every Henry Stewart DAM conference brings joy to my librarian heart. (Did I mention I have my nerdy t-shirts categorized by node and sub-node in my closet? For example, I have Star Wars, Star Wars:Running, Star Wars:Beer and so on, plus Disney, Disney:Parks, Disney:Musicals, Disney:Musicals:Parody, etc. – this is totally normal behavior, even many years after you receive your MS-LIS).  It’s such a core part of how DAM works (or doesn’t work, when it’s not staffed properly), and it’s so important that decision-makers understand what they need to do before signing the big checks, and continuing to spread that knowledge underpins the growth of the industry.

And as that growth continues, the range of roles and responsibilities continues to evolve; I very much enjoyed moderating a round table on DAM career options, with people at many varying career levels and from many distinct backgrounds, but it really suggested an opportunity for the wider market: there is a need for DAM-specific recruitment agencies (or, at least, recruitment agencies with someone on staff who really understand the field) and career planning help. Each Henry Stewart event is a great opportunity to continue to build our formal and informal networks, but as DAM professionals, I suggest that we rely on personal recommendations and word of mouth to get to the next role or career level to a greater extent than in most other tech and information management fields. Getting to meet some of the new-to-the-field people in the Future Digital Leaders Program was delightful, and I look forward to keeping in touch with several of them, but making sure we have paths onward and upward at all levels is important as we move the profession forward.

Finally, a personal note to the organizers, who do a wonderful job each time – thank you for pulling everything together once more, and thank you for making sure we had good tea! I never needed to break in to my personal tea stash (yes, I’m that person who brings her own tea everywhere, because finding good tea in the US can be a dicey proposition), and the range of caffeinated and non-caffeinated teas was ideal.

I hope to make it back to San Diego next year, and to return to New York again in the spring. I still have London on my DAM to-do list…

Organizers For Three Information Professionals Meetups Urgently Required

My DAM Guru colleague, Carol Thomas-Knipes, has recently let me know about the imminent closure of three Information Professionals meetup groups in Alberta, Space Coast and Palm Beaches due to the lack of an organizer.  They are as follows:

If any DAM Guru members (or those with an interest in this subject) are interested in taking over (or working with a group to share) leadership as organizer(s), this will prevent those groups from being shutdown.

As those who have organized a meetup group before will be aware, if the previous organizer has to withdraw then the group is removed. This means the current membership of the group is dispersed and anyone else who subsequently decides to open a group with a similar profile has to build up the membership from scratch. As such, if you are an information professional (e.g. a DAM Guru) and you live or work near the locations of the three groups, consider stepping up to the Organizer role. Organizing a Meetup is a great way to expand your DAM network in your area, drive discussion on relevant topics, and learn even more about what is out there.

Reflections On The 2018 Digital Asset Symposium

This article was contributed by DAM Guru member, Jeffrey Marino.


Digital Asset Symposium
DAS: New York

Hosted by The Association of Moving Image Archivists
June 6, 2018
Museum of Modern Art
New York, NY

“Who lives, who dies? Who tells the story?” sums up how history gets written – by the survivor. Last month in NYC we did not get to see the musical Hamilton (that’s a line from the show), but we did get to the Digital Asset Symposium for a lineup of thought-provoking presentations by media asset management leaders from non-profits, music entertainment, sports, documentary filmmaking and marketing technology. Interspersed among the expert sessions were sponsor presentations from the marketing technology, big data, big storage and AI industries.

All provided interesting insights on digital asset management processes, the life and survival of the digital asset, and its purpose. As kickoff speaker Nick Gold, Program Director from The Association of Moving Image Archivists said: “A media asset…becomes part of the human story and crucial in the hands of the storyteller.”

The core value of DAM platforms, vendor marketing often points out, is the efficiency and efficacy of maintaining ‘a single source of truth’ for digital assets. When I saw, however, the title of the keystone talk – “The Truth is a Lie” – I thought we might be entering a topical discussion around facts vs alt-facts. Instead we were guided to the arena of quantum physics by Chris Welty, a professor of Cognitive Computing and Sr. Research Scientist at Google. Peeling back the onion on what he called ‘the super-positioning of reality,’ he refreshed us on how photons coexist as both particles and waves, i.e. in two different realities, until observed.

Photo credit: Zachary Zahos

In another example, Professor Lora Arroyo, Chief Scientist at Tagasauris, displayed a landscape image: is it Sunday Mountain, New Zealand; or is it Minas Tirith, Gondor? The image is of course both – its reality depends on the context of the viewer and the descriptive bias of the image.

Their point: because of super-positioning of reality, it’s inevitable that digital asset metadata is inconsistent. Welty cited studies of how people are unable to agree on simple commonalities (such as the color of a flower) or even simpler ones (such as, is this a flower?). Accuracy in metadata, he posited, not only requires definition of what something is (i.e. blue) as well as what it is not (i.e. not monochrome).  That means more metadata. To take on the extra tagging, and to even out those inevitable inconsistencies, Arroyo described how groups of people who are not subject matter experts are able to derive metadata for images better than, well, professionals. Tagasauris packages this as a service called QrowdTruth.

In the next session, “Archiving Human Rights Video: Planting Seeds of Preservation Throughout Production,” Nicole Martin of Human Rights Watch countered the previous discussion by espousing the value of ‘fixity’ for digital assets. The standpoint of HRW is that original, unchanged data are primary legal evidence relevant to real people in the context of their harm or disadvantage. HRW’s processes mandate original asset preservation in its exact original dataform, even ensuring that cloning drives are write protected. Only after such preservation (‘fixity’) is in place do the additional tagging and transcoding of assets and the creative production processes begin.

On the commercial side, we next heard from Randa Marakarah in “Bridge the Gap: Unite Content and Customer Intelligence for Audience Intelligence and Growth.” Randa described how his company, Transform, mines the engagement activity of OTT consumers (aka cord-cutters, the streaming broadcast audience). Transform seeks to provide metrics that influence the development or even the story arc of creative programming. Perhaps such data mining will help improve the accuracy (or at least the gross misdirection) of the targeted ads I get. Fingers crossed!

Sally Hubbard of PBS led the “Smart Stacking of Data and Information Services” session, shedding light on differences between ‘Big Info’ and ‘Big Data.’ Information Science, she explained, is the internal process of storing, transferring content with precision and fixity. Data Science, on the other hand, is the external process of discovery and analysis, seeking to discern linkages that are (or might be) actionable. The symbiosis of the two is that while the library process of adding information increases the basic value of the assets, the analytics process increases market value for the system through predictions based on probability. And we should be mindful, as Gian Klobusicky, Sr. Data Scientist at HBO said, that “probability is logic with uncertainty.”

“Smart Stacking” also is how managers yoke the yin of information with the yang of data, leveraging not just technology but also the human factor. People have an innate ability to process information and perceive context better than algorithms and most importantly, they are the ethical backbone of the ‘stack.’  Dalia Levine, Ontologist at HBO pointed out, “As librarians we are trained explicitly for the presentation and management of data in as factual and unbiased a manner as possible.” Bottom line, ethics is a personal process for every employee at the organization. “Bias,” added Hubbard, “is present in all levels and needs to be monitored and corrected as it occurs.”

Dan Piro, Director of the Digital Asset Archive at the National Hockey League, recapped a big project implementation: capturing and cataloguing 100 years of hockey images, film reels and video from all kinds of formats. Because this was NHL, he was able to throw a lot of resources at it. Without revealing budget, he mentioned that the first vendor contracted for digitization got overwhelmed by the scope of the job and had to renegotiate terms. NHL not only agreed but also added a second vendor to keep the project on track. What drove the big spend at NHL was the very high value of the league’s Centennial for the organization. Piro cheerfully said, “clearly the DAM would have high value once in place, but it terms of actual ROI – who knows?” For many of us, budget and ROI are painful sticking points in getting implementation off the ground, but Piro and his team seized the opportunity to rush the open goal (so to speak).

In 1967, the Montreux Jazz Fest was founded with a combined mission: to stage world-class music performances and to document it all in photos and video for archive, research, education and innovation. Dr. Alain Dufaux, Head of Operations and Development, Metamedia Center at EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, or Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) described how this created a huge store of assets on many formats, even noting that the Festival was a very early (1991) adopter of HD video. Preserving the assets has created several petabytes of digitized archive. With 14,000 master audio recordings, 11,000 hours of video, and over 100,000 photos, it is no wonder that they are experimenting with new options: recordings of Miles Davis and Deep Purple are already stored biochemically on DNA. Innovations driven by the Center include automated defect detection and correction for video; sound ‘bubbles’ that improve the audio experience in the open environments of the library; and interactive capabilities for virtual remixing and ‘open mic-ing’ of Montreux performances by casual visitors.

The closing keynote featured production team members of the Netflix documentary series, “Bobby Kennedy for President,” which streamed this year, the 50th anniversary of his assassination.  This kind of film, they discussed, is a vast process of asset discovery, requiring diligent detective work, a prodigious amount of time, and the tried and true method of talking to people and following lead after lead. The team focused on finding folks who were actually present during the political campaign and created new assets (interviews) to play against old assets (footage often never before archived). The film includes, for example, a clip of a doubtful Bobby Kennedy, which aired only once in 1968, adding a darker color to the myth of Camelot. “It’s the golden age of retrieval,” remarked Archive Producer Rich Remsburg, who researched and delivered assets from sources ranging from ProQuest, to local TV stations, to eBay. Series producer Elizabeth Wolff wryly remarked: “The story gets told only from what’s digitized.”  The story of this film illustrated that finding truth in the data is absolutely driven by digital asset management’s core value: discoverability.

At this Digital Asset Symposium, the presenters generously reviewed their own best practices for sourcing, managing and standardizing metadata. We peeked under the hood at naming conventions and schema, and got bird’s eye views of building and staffing an asset management system with the tools and automation available today. And we looked to the future, where automation is at the top of “the AI Ladder” and currently evolving from its data foundation (Big Info), analytics for insights (Big Data), and machine learning leading to true AI.

But the future is now. Logan Ketchum from Veritone (one of the conference sponsors) reminds us that “Artificial Narrow Intelligence” is already at work in every single use-case based DAM platform on the market. And as we yoke multiple engines together – including the processes and stacking discussed in this conference – it means we are not only solving for our digital asset needs, we are also injecting life into an AI operating system…

And, as we learned from Jurassic Park, life will find a way.

Jeffrey Marino is 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.

DAM Guru Exhibiting At Henry Stewart DAM NY 2018, May 3-4

DAM Guru are an official partner of Henry Stewart NY 2018 and we will also be exhibiting at the event on May 3-4.  This is the first time we have participated in this conference (although a number of our members have been regular attendees for many years).

The New York conference is billed as ‘the largest single event dedicated to DAM’ by Henry Stewart and based on feedback about the event from my DAM Guru colleague, Carol Thomas (and other) that seems like a fair description.  Here are the edited highlights:

  • 600+ attendees.
  • 80 speakers during 60 sessions over two days covering Metadata, Integration, AI, Automation, Creative Operations, Corporate Archives, Video Workflow, Rights Management, Semantics and Governance.
  • Representation from DAM users covering over 80 well-known brands.
  • DAM clinic featuring roundtable discussions about more in-depth topics.
  • Advanced taxonomy and metadata tutorials.
  • Industry-specific DAM groups.

The event also includes access to the Creative Operations conference which is also being held at the same venue.

If you are attending the event, please do come along to see us and say hello.  For anyone who has not yet booked at ticket, you can use the discount code DAMGURU100 to get a $100 reduction.  The ‘early bird’ discount ends on 30th March and if you book a ticket before then, you can get a further $100 off the price.