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.

DAM Guru Program Director Change

DAM Guru Program Appoints Ralph Windsor As New Director

London / Aarau, January 23, 2018.  Ralph Windsor, editor of DAM News and Project Director of Digital Asset Management consultants, Daydream is to become the new Director of DAM Guru Program (DGP).

DGP is a community DAM education and human resources matching service first established in 2013 by DAM Survival Guide author, David Diamond and sponsored by DAM vendor, Picturepark.  DGP has over 1,100 members and is open to digital asset managers, vendors and consultants from across the DAM industry.

“I am very excited to be chosen as the new Director of DAM Guru Program by the DGP Board.  Since it was first started, it has become a focal point for DAM industry practitioners and the promotion of high quality educational resources.  Consolidating the combined resources of DGP with DAM News represents an ideal opportunity to establish far greater cross-industry collaboration, continue the sterling work already carried out by DGP towards enhancing DAM education and to foster an environment that encourages greater innovation in the DAM sector.” said Windsor.

“What started as an idea overnight has turned into the industries’ largest DAM community: DGP has organized highly successful webinars, relentlessly connected members, posted countless DAM jobs and events, and published hundreds of interviews with DAM professionals – all serving the DAM community. I’m very proud of these achievements and I’m convinced that Ralph and his enlarged team will successfully manage DGP to be even better connected and useful to those that matter most in our industry, the DAM users.” said Ramon Forster, CEO of Picturepark .

The same team that manages DAM industry journal, DAM News (including the DAM Vendor directory, DAM Glossary, DAM Whitepapers and DAM Books) will assume responsibility for the day-to-day operations of both DAM News and also DAM Guru.  All existing DGP services will continue to be provided as previously and a wide range of new initiatives are planned for 2018 and beyond.

An Open Letter about DAM Guru Program

Dear DAM Guru Program members,

In early 2013 David Diamond texted me from San Francisco. A U.S. competitor had just released its affiliate program. We had been preparing our own such program over the last weeks for launch the next day. Now, that competitor was grabbing the market’s attention ahead of us.

Of course, David was super-furious. He swore to me the same night that he would come up with a completely different and far more innovative program.

When I woke up a few hours later, I found an expose of the DAM Guru Program in my mailbox. The paper sketched a not-for-profit association that connected Digital Asset Management experts with people new to DAM, advocating education in DAM and giving members, at the grassroots level, a voice and platform. Although not a source of revenue, I was excited by the outlined program, and provided the funds for getting it going.

What had started years ago overnight has turned into the largest Digital Asset Management community of more than 1,100 members with expertise across all sectors and systems. The program has organized highly successful webinars, relentlessly connected members seeking guidance and assistance, posted countless DAM jobs and events, as well as published hundreds of interviews with DAM professionals.

Now, after nearly five years, we are opening a new chapter with DAM Guru Program that aims to establishing far greater cross-industry collaboration, by enhancing DAM education and fostering an
environment that encourages greater innovation in the DAM sector.

With these changes, I’m excited to announce Ralph Windsor, who most of you know best from DAM News, will become our new Global Director of DAM Guru Program. I have known Ralph for many years as an active member of the DAM community. We might differ from time to time in opinions but we share the idea of a new association required for the DAM industry, which itself needs to wake up and become more active in defining its future.

I’d like to express my sincere gratitude to all DAM Guru Program members who have contributed to the program and shown their trust in Picturepark for funding and operating it, but never abusing their data for sales-related activities. You are the reason why this program exists and why we will continue to grow our DAM community further.

We are excited about this next chapter for DAM Guru Program!

Ramon Forster
CEO Picturepark

You can learn more about the changes coming to the program in the press release here.
Connect with Ramon on LinkedIn and Xing.

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

Guru Talk: Kathleen Cameron – Nest

Kathleen Cameron - digital asset managerKathleen Cameron’s digital asset management experience over the years has shown her that DAM is about the ease in discovering content. If done correctly, users no longer need to be reliant on knowing someone else’s folder structure.

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

My first digital asset management gig was organizing content for the Headlands Center for the Arts in exchange for studio space. I built them a DAM system and created the metadata schema (pre-VRA core). From there I worked at Quokka, which was a sports content provider, and each production team had their own instance of a DAM system to utilize, while the IT department looked into an enterprise DAM solution. It was my first experience working with an IT group and requirements gathering. I learned Dublin Core and built the taxonomy for the Sydney Summer Olympics. I was responsible for building out the workflows to get content into the tool and also responsible for digital rights management.

After my time at Quokka, I began working at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) as their Manager of Digital Content Development. It was not traditional DAM but more of a blended role of digital project manager and DAM manager. My first project was to build a DAM for the health sciences based on HEAL and my last project was submitting the requirements for a systemwide digital library for the University of California. In between I took on digitization projects for the library, as well as helping other departments organize their assets.

The Stanford Graduate School of Business hired me after they licensed at DAM system to manage the school’s content. This was a make-it-work situation as the tool was not the right fit for their requirements, but the IT manager was committed to the product. I grew the collection from 0-36k assets in 3 years with a focus on migrating existing digital collections from outdated servers to the ECM. I built in connectivity with social media so that users could easily push content to YouTube or Facebook, as well as connectivity with the CMS being used and a new LMS (learning management system).

My current role at Nest Labs has returned me to a more traditional digital asset management role. I function more as a Digital Archivist where I am actively collecting and describing content, thinking through content lifecycle and improving workflows. I’ve built out the taxonomy, migrated content from a non-traditional DAM system they were using, conducted user-training and revisit requirements annually.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

DAM is about the ease of discovering content. No longer reliant on knowing someone else’s folder structure, users can find content more readily through structured and unstructured metadata.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

First, it helped that I had a background in analog archives and understood the power of organization and description. In 1992, I looked at one of the first digital asset management tools while working as a library manager for a photo archive in NY. From there, we began planning digitization. I had a great mentor that I worked alongside when I was a photo editor at Benjamin-Cummins. I did a lot of research. I felt it was important to understand structured metadata so I learned Dublin Core – all other metadata schemas are somewhat based on this, so picking those up later was easier. I spent a lot of time working on preservation and taxonomies in grad school. This can be learned outside of the MLIS process, but are important to understand. Active preservation is part of the conversation in higher ed but less so in non-academic environments and is essential to protecting the investment we make when building a DAM.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

Right now it is change management. People get used to the tools they use even if those tools are not efficient. I work with a group that would prefer to work in Smartsheets, Google Team Drive, Box, Jira, etc. instead of one place. We lose efficiency and I don’t always get final assets.

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

The DAM industry goes through cycles. Right now we are in an upswing with a lot of products out there, some of which are too complex and some of which are simply too buggy for the price. I expect that in 5 years, the choices will slim down again with the most stable products remaining available.

What was your biggest mistake with regard to DAM?

One of my biggest mistakes with DAM was being talked out of the right choice for an organization and being stuck with the wrong choice! The effects of something like that last a very long time.

Would you like to be a DAM Guru Program featured DAM professional? Signup now (for free) or contact your DAM Guru Program manager.

Guru Talk: Keith McKeon – Hogarth Worldwide

Keith McKeon - Digital Asset ManagerKeith McKeon is a Digital Asset Manager who understands that chasing features, without having a clear vision for the goal of a company’s DAM system, will lead to frustration and failure.

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

I initially started as technical support for clients using our digital asset management system while employed by Hogarth Worldwide. After a year, I took over technical account responsibilities for a few clients. For some of these clients, a full rebuild of their site’s configuration was necessary; others needed more guided training for their administrators. Strictly speaking, I have been a full-time Digital Asset Manager for Johnson and Johnson’s DAM instance. This role was comprised of user-management, training, implementing a quality control process and a full rebuild of their taxonomy among other projects. I currently mentor 2 junior Digital Asset Managers for Hogarth Worldwide and represent the professional services team for Hogarth in the Americas which includes close partnership with out DAM product team and London professional services teams.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

Most of what I know about digital asset management in the commercial, practical sense, was learned by rebuilding and repairing DAM implementations. However, I took a number of classes on image archives and collections while getting my Masters in Library and Information Science (MLIS). I have also had the opportunity to assist the technicians in building the Frick’s image library and scan, and organize a personal library of slides and negatives from my family. There are lots of great places to learn about DAM. One of the best ones has been the Meetup NYC Digital Asset Managers. I’ve gained some insight and had many a conversation with some great panelists. I also recommend attending one of the Henry Stuart DAM conferences if your budget permits.

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

Understand that the best software for DAM will not solve the simplest implementation of DAM unless you know exactly what you need and have a committed team to bringing the use of the DAM into your organization’s existing structure. I’ve seen too many instances where the client chased features and either oversold or did not clearly communicate to their internal teams what the DAM software was for. Lastly, make sure the software you choose has a stellar support team and by support, I mean beyond a simple front for answering technical support tickets. In your first year, it is worth paying a little more for at least %20 of a person from the vendor to ensure you are capitalizing on your investment and they hear where your pain points are. If the product isn’t performing, don’t rely on a support ticket alone to give you the final answer. It is highly possible an alternative method of working can solve your problem and any good support team will be grateful for constructive feedback.

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

This depends on the industry. For creative and marketing agencies I see it becoming nearly indistinguishable from other parts of operations. The proverbial “upload” button or, event that moves content from one stage to another will become more transparent in creative operations. Creative software can publish directly to a DAM and integrate with custom metadata requirements set by other tools in the workflow process. As DAM is better understood, it will become integrated as part of the larger content management strategy. Success will be measured by the ability to meet tighter deadlines and less time scrambling for information across other channels of communication. For other industries, like archives and libraries it’ll remain much the same on the surface, but I expect deeper levels of metadata and more connections to other archives will develop and hopefully, unique collections will be easier to find. The so called ‘invisible web’ will become more visible by AI provided paywalls and standards continue to develop.

Would you like to be a DAM Guru Program featured DAM professional? Signup now (for free) or contact your DAM Guru Program manager.

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.


The Digital Asset Manager (DAM) Salary Survey Returns!

The former DAM Foundation’s Digital Asset Manager salary-focused survey has found new life as a DAM News special initiative.

Fellow DAM Gurus Ralph Windsor, Elizabeth Keathley, and Deb Fanslow have brought it back and expanded it. Not only are they capturing compensation and salary information, but gathering wide-ranging data on job responsibilities, professional education, and work-life balance. We are hoping ALL of you participate. The survey is an annual assessment on the scope of digital asset manager pay and work that seeks to analyze employment trends industry-wide.

The survey questionnaire is available HERE:

With so much growth in the DAM industry, this survey will provide a valuable resource for DAM professionals. The higher the participation, the better we all understand the range of opportunities available in our industry. Please participate!

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 Talk: Mark Leslie – Adidas

Mark-Leslie-Digital-Asset-ManagerDigital asset management professional, Mark Leslie explains the full power of DAM can only come into play after you completely understand the business processes of where the assets are created and how all audiences that make use of the assets.

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

For the last 14 years, I have worked with adidas in North America, specializing in licensed professional sports apparel and headwear product creation. During that time I held multiple roles: Production Art Manager for apparel, Senior Design Manager for all adidas licensed product, and Senior Manager of DAM for all North American product teams. In all of these roles I drove a high level of collaboration across teams in multiple geographic locations and very high volumes of product related asset creation and delivery.

I have always been a passionate thought leader and very energetic driver for continuous improvement in the Visual Art, Design and Creative Operations space. One of my core beliefs is to leave everything better than I found it, so my natural tendency has been to promote and give back to the DAM community. I have written numerous blog posts and articles about DAM and Digital Supply Chain topics. I have been a frequent panelist and presenter at Henry Stewart DAM in North America. I was invited by Adobe to present a case study at SUMMIT in 2017. And I’ve received peer recognition in the DAM space – interviewed me as part of their DAM Champ series, and I have been featured on an episode of Another DAM podcast.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

How I describe DAM depends on my audience. For the business user, I like to describe DAM as the virtual counterpart to the physical supply chain by using the term Digital Supply Chain. Business people understand the processes by which products are made, held in inventory, and sold. Raw materials come together to create the product. Finished products are stockpiled in inventory until they are delivered either to a retailer or sold directly to the consumer. A remarkably similar value chain exists for digital source files, which when combined with other files and descriptive information attributes, become digital assets. These assets are held in the centralized and structured storage called DAM, where they await future manipulation or delivery to their ultimate audience.

If I’m talking about what I do in a casual setting, I describe digital asset management as similar to trying to wrangle the mountain of digital photos we all have, or creating playlists in iTunes. Everyone has some experience with the challenges of trying to organize and locate more digital assets than they know what to do with!

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

The most important thing to understand for someone new to digital asset management is that its full value and power can only come into play after you completely understand the business processes where the assets are created and all the audiences that make use of the assets. DAM is simply software and technology used to accelerate and empower work getting done. And once DAM captures those assets, more opportunities for collaboration and delivery are possible because there is now a single source of truth. And while the technology of DAM is a powerful enabler, the needs and methods it supports must relate to the human factor.

On the creation side are people who imagine, request, and create assets while they are seeking ways to collaborate and be more effective. In the audience for assets are people searching for the latest fashion, the sleekest cars, or exciting food or adventures at their fingertips. All the ways we capture assets, describe them in detail, and instantly deliver them where they are needed are parts of the big picture. DAM plays a key role, as part of the overall Digital Supply Chain, to make all of these things happen seamlessly when we do our jobs well.

What more would you like to learn about DAM?

With the depth of experience I have in the design process, leading creative operations, workflow automation and DAM, I would love to extend my horizons out beyond DAM into the marketing and use analytics realms. The insights into what makes the appropriate asset resonate with its intended audience not only create the payoffs for the marketing process, but could also be folded back into the creative teams to accelerate the front end development of those same visuals. Technology is constantly changing, markets are constantly changing, and Digital Transformation will continue as an ongoing process. Couple all of this with machine learning and AI and this is an exciting time to be directing these intersections between creativity, people, and technology.

Would you like to be a DAM Guru Program featured DAM professional? Signup now (for free) or contact your DAM Guru Program manager.