Another DAM podcast interview with Alex Struminger

Click here to listen to Another DAM podcast interview with Alex Struminger

Here are the questions asked:

  • How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
  • Why does a DAM need a Project Manager?
  • What advice would you like to share with DAM Professionals and people aspiring to become DAM Professionals?

Full Transcript:

Henrik de Gyor: [0:01] This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset
Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with Alex Struminger.
Alex, how are you?
Alex Struminger: [0:10] Henrik, good to be with you.
Henrik: [0:12] Great. Alex, how are you involved with Digital Asset
Alex: [0:17] Henrik, let me answer that first by telling you about the Digital Asset
Management project I’ve been working on, which is with the United Nations
Children’s Fund, UNICEF. In this particular project, I am acting as a project manager
and, in some ways, as a facilitator. [0:38] UNICEF uses a number of different
kinds of digital assets, and they’re managed by different groups. Video is a big
part of what our group is doing. That’s something that has spawned a lot of
change in Digital Asset Management over the last couple of years because of
the large file sizes and the increased bandwidth and storage needs for video.
[1:07] We also have more traditional assets. We have branding assets with logos,
stationary and a lot of those kinds of things. We have publications assets,
photos and that kind of thing.
[1:21] By far and largest is the video, and we use the DAM in a couple of ways.
We use it as an archiving system. We use it for providing access to the archive
of video and other assets. We also use it as a distribution system probably more
than anything else.
[1:46] We put the videos up there. The group that owns the assets, manages the
assets and the systems puts it up there. Then, the global organization is able to
access those.
[1:56] That’s probably the biggest use we find for the DAM, is just getting those
assets into one central place, letting people know they’re there, and then using
it as a distribution vehicle for getting the videos to all of the end users.
Henrik: [2:12] Excellent. Why does a DAM need a project manager?
Alex: [2:16] That’s a great question, Henrik. I would say that many people would
agree that most technology platforms, at least in their design, implementation
and roll out, are going to need some project management. [2:31] If nothing else
to sort out the resources, schedules, budgets and things like that, and keep
everything on track.
[2:40] What I find is that there’s another part of project management that comes
much more into play with these technology platforms with lots of users. That’s
why I mentioned that I’m a project manager and, in some sense, a facilitator.
[2:59] There’s a social aspect to DAM as there is to any network technology
platform, whether it’s lots of end users all connected by wires and other means
of communication, emails, instant messaging, telephone lines. All working together.
The biggest hurdles project managers talk about are risk and risk aversion.
I like to talk to you more about ensuring success.
[3:31] The success of a project is not, simply, to get it designed and implemented
on the technical side, and then rolled out to the user base. Unless
people, actually, use it, you’re not going to see success.
[3:48] In some sense, to use a military analogy, you might talk about the difference
between a “shock and awe” campaign. We can roll out SharePoint on a
Friday, and when people show up to work on Monday, that’s not going to make
them SharePoint users. You may accomplish the same thing that “shock and
awe” accomplishes which is you could, probably, befuddle them.
[4:10] It’s more a little bit like counterinsurgency. We’re wanting to win hearts
and minds so there’s a social aspect. You want to put down your big guns and
put on your social scientist hat. Say, “OK . Let’s try to understand the culture in
the organization.
[4:27] Who are the people, who are the influencers in the network? Who’s going
to driver adoption? How are we going to get people to adopt this system into
their workflow?”
[4:37] Hopefully, we’ll show a lot of value for it which is a good driver for adoption.
Word of mouth and having people influence other people to change the
way they’re doing things, today, to use a new system tomorrow is the thing
that’s most likely to drive success.
Henrik: [4:56] Excellent.
Alex: [4:57] We talked a little about socializing the technology. Adding the
people in the process and showing value as part of the project management
formula, rather than simply rolling out the technology and saying, “Here you go.
You may not have realized you wanted this, but here it is.”
Henrik: [5:18] What advice would you like to give to DAM professionals and
people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Alex: [5:23] I think the best advice I could give, based on this experience, is
think a lot about that socializing process. The success of the project is definitely
going to be driven by people’s adoption. [5:40] You want to identify those key
influencers. You want to start with a group of stakeholders who are motivated.
People who are willing to accept and get involved in the project early.
[5:53] If you can get them involved as early as possible, even if the identification
of the system and the vendor so they feel a sense of investment with it, then
you’ll have a much more loyal group of people working with you going forward.
Then build it.
[6:07] I always advocate going slowly. Not a big “shock and awe” campaign but
starting in the social systems with the groups that you can convert and win over,
and building on that bit-by-bit is a much more sustainable approach. That’s a
big part of what I would say.
[6:29] The other thing that I would bring up which has less to do with project
management but I think something that in DAM systems is particularly important,
is information architecture, taxonomy, and the metadata that drives
the system.
[6:46] Make sure that you get the specialists on board, at least from the design
and roll out phase, to get those things right. I think that will provide the support
on the back end that will help show the value of you’re trying to win those
hearts and minds out in the company and in the field.
Henrik: [7:02] Excellent. Thanks Alex.
Alex: [7:05] Henrik, it’s been a pleasure to be with you.
Henrik: [7:07] For more on Digital Asset Management log on to Thanks again.