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Another DAM Podcast interview with Anne Lenehan on Digital Asset Management

Listen to Another DAM Podcast interview with Anne Lenehan on Digital Asset Management

Full Transcript:

Henrik de Gyor:  [0:01] This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset Management. I am Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with Anne Lenehan. Anne how are you?

Anne Lenehan:  [0:09] I’m very well, thank you Henrik.

Henrik:  [0:11] Anne, how are you involved with digital asset management?

Anne:  [0:14] At Elsevier, I’m currently the product owner for our digital asset management system, and I was also involved in creating the business case for the DAM we introduced into Elsevier, and ensure that not only through the business case but also through the implementation phase at Elsevier.

Henrik:  [0:31] Anne, how does the provider of science and health information use digital asset management?

Anne:  [0:35] It’s a great question, when you think about science or health information you don’t necessarily think about all of the types of rich media and video, and audio materials that are part of not only just the diagnosis part of medical information but also in the learning and also in the patient information. The way that we use digital assets at Elsevier is they’re part of every product that we produce, every book, every journal and every online product that we have has images, videos, audio files, Google maps files or map files.

[1:08] We have special 3D and interactive images, we have interactive questions and case studies, all of which have a lot of rich media as part and parcel of those content pieces. Those are all digital assets that we want to store and manage, and potentially recompile and re‑use in future products. It’s really at the core of our content information. It is as big of a part of our content flow as the text content has always been.

Henrik:  [1:39] What are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with DAM?

Anne:  [1:42] I think one of the most difficult thing with digital assets and how we manage them through a DAM, is really understanding the work flows that are involved in creating the assets, and how they can fit together in an end‑to‑end workflow for production pieces. I think that’s probably the biggest challenge.

[2:00] The way that we view creating, say images or videos, are viewed as very much separate work streams, where in fact, they are very frequently work stream that all flow together or workflows that flow together and are connected in a way. Actually having a DAM enables us to view those work streams and workflows in a much more continuous manner and help us to improve our processes for creating rich media assets that are then part of the DAM.

[2:30] I think this has been one of the biggest challenges that we’ve seen within my company but that’s also a common thing within other companies is that certain parts of the workflows are not always identified as having the potential to be part of working with the digital asset management system. It’s actually very good way to manage assets coming into the company from our author base.

[2:51] It’s a great way to manage distributing those assets for improvements or for transformation to our vendors. Digital asset management system is a very helpful way for us to review those assets, to view them in [Inaudible 3:03] and the way that they are going to be used in our content product. Also to distribute those assets down the road to our product platforms and also as part of our compiled objects, be they books or journals, online content, e‑books, whatever the output is.

[3:19] That’s a great success and it’s actually seeing how the DAM can be in content, but the biggest challenge is really helping people understand how those workflows fit together.

Henrik:  [3:30] Anne, what advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?

Anne:  [3:35] I think one of the most important things to understand is actually how the assets are used in a company, and what the importance of those assets are. This was a big change for us at Elsevier, we had always viewed rich media assets with somewhat secondary..or a secondary part of our content pieces.

[3:52] It was only really when we started to think about video assets and image assets, and all other kinds of rich media assets as being core and central to our content pieces that we started to really look at DAM as being a way to manage those content pieces.

[4:07] The one important thing for an aspiring DAM professional is to really understand the business that they are looking at, and what the content pieces are that go into it, and how those content pieces, be they, digital assets. How are they working together? What is the overall picture, and the overall view or the overall importance of digital assets to that company?

[4:27] As those assets become more important and as the record or the management or the potentially the re‑use becomes more important. That would be something very important to understand and to translate to, particularly to senior management, in supporting and funding origination of a DAM system.

[4:45] The other thing that I would really recommend for aspiring DAM professional is to understand a lot about metadata and taxonomy and how they work together to support the assets that you are creating, storing and managing in a digital asset management system. I can’t overemphasize this enough, but this was really a core part of our mature view of digital assets within Elsevier is that we had established a really good taxonomy.

[5:11] That we are using as part of a process we call Smart Content across our product assets and platforms. We were using the taxonomy to tag our content and manage it to improve the search and discovery of the assets and content that we had on our platforms. One of the outgrowths of the Smart Content program was really to understand that rich media assets were being searched and were being used.

[5:37] That actually translated to…how do we use the taxonomy? What a taxonomy is? How it could be used in your particular industry and the importance of how that can be used to enable search and discovery and lead in the efforts of the DAM.

Henrik:  [5:50] Well, thanks Anne.

Anne:  [5:51] Sure.

Henrik:  [5:53] For more on this and other digital asset management topics go to

For this and 150 other podcasts episodes including transcripts of every interview go to If you have any comments or questions please feel free to email me at Thanks again.

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Another DAM Podcast interview with Ed Klaris

Listen to Another DAM Podcast interview with Ed Klaris about Digital Asset Management

Here are the questions asked:

  • How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
  • How does a magazine publisher use Digital Asset Management?
  • What are the biggest challenges and successes with Digital Asset Management?
  • 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, and I’m speaking with Ed Klaris. Ed, how are you?
Ed Klaris: [0:10] Fine, thanks. Thanks for having me.
Henrik: [0:12] Ed, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
Ed: [0:15] I am Senior Vice President in charge of Editorial Assets and Rights at Conde Nast, which includes asset management and rights management across the entire portfolio. Conde Nast owns 18 consumer titles and three B2B titles, all of which have articles and photographs from the traditional print publications. We also produce a lot of video, blogs, and web content, all of which I’m responsible for taking after publication and putting it into a repository.
[0:49] We use our Digital Asset Management system to house, search and discover previously published assets, so that we can reuse them for various purposes. I’m not a technologist, I’m a manager. I’m an executive at the company and I oversee Digital Asset Management. In fact, under my management, we created asset management here at the company and we converted print titles backwards, back to 2002 into XML, and every month that the print titles are created here, we convert them to XML and then put them into our repository.
Henrik: [1:26] How does a magazine publisher use Digital Asset Management?
Ed: [1:29] Similar to what I just said, we convert all of our content into a structured format. We use our Prism Spec XML format to house all of our previously published content. It’s a video or Web‑based content that can go into the asset management system fairly cleanly. However, we do try to add metadata so that it’s easily discoverable. We use Digital Asset Management as a repository so that we can reuse content as broadly as possible. We can distribute digital content across the world to our publishers around the world, to our licensees, our content syndication partners, etc.
[2:09] It’s a repository discovery device and a distribution mechanism.
Henrik: [2:14] What are the biggest challenges and successes with Digital Asset Management?
Ed: [2:18] The biggest challenge that we face are combining asset metadata with rights data around exactly what we can and cannot do with a given asset. As an IT publisher, we tend to not acquire all rights to all content, we have limited rights. Many of the pieces of content have different use cases. We can make a book out of one title’s photograph, but not out of another.
[2:43] We can crop a photo here, and another photograph we might not be able to. We can use an article on the Web, and another article, we cannot. The biggest challenge is, I’m not discovering the asset, it’s knowing how you can reuse it, and having pretty easy access by the user into the asset and exactly its suitability.
[3:04] Then, the biggest successes so far have been our ability to take a robust database. We use an underlying database for our Digital Asset Management system and building a DAM app on top of it, which is the underlying database is an unstructured database that has great search capability, but it really didn’t have a lot of specified magazine publishing needed asset management tools, like a front end. It didn’t have carding, or reuse capabilities.
[3:37] It didn’t have the ability to segment and use taxonomies quite as well in our specific field, so we have been able to build on top of our unstructured database, a thin app that is very robust and serves the magazine publishing business very well, but when in fact this industry has really not had a DAM product that did serve our needs.
Henrik: [4:00] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Ed: [4:04] I think that DAM requires a great knowledge around search and discovery. It’s an undervalued skill set, and with search and discovery, I mean the ability to create and employ taxonomies to use segmentation and granularized search in a way that makes your assets findable. I think the people who are going into the field don’t know, just need to know how to manage binary assets, but also need to be very familiar with search and discovery, and they need to be able to be technologists.
[4:38] Not necessarily everybody needs to be able to code, but they need to be very familiar with technology around these databases and such, because otherwise, it maybe kind of get lost. They need to know what they’re getting into. What it was, if was they were really interested in, are they interested in that, more so content management than Digital Asset Management as a repository, and really know what direction they want to go in.
[5:02] Often times I find that people are ultimately interested in creating content rather than figuring out how to store it and find it and re‑purpose it, it’s the latter that people in this field really need to focus on. I’m looking for people who are both content specialists and people who can convert content into XML or HTML, mostly XML, and also technologists who understand search primarily, and can do front‑end development. Both of those skills are very useful and especially the technology side.
Henrik: [5:31] Thanks, Ed.
Ed: [5:31] You’re welcome, it was a pleasure.
Henrik: [5:33] More on this and other Digital Asset Management topics, logon to Another DAM Podcast is available on iTunes and AudioBoo. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email me at Thanks again.

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Another DAM podcast interview with Joe Bachana

Listen to Another DAM podcast interview with Joe Bachana

Here are the questions asked:

  • How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
  • How do open source Digital Asset Management (DAM) solutions stack up today?
  • What advice would you like to share with DAM Professionals and people aspiring to become DAM Professionals?

Full Transcript:

Henrik de Gyor: [0:02] This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset
Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with Joe Bachana. Joe,
how are you?
Joe Bachana: [0:11] Great. Hi.
Henrik: [0:12] Joe, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
Joe: [0:16] Personally, I’ve been implementing Digital Asset Management since
about 1997. My first project with DAM was when I was working with a company
called Image, Inc. I was implementing a product called Phrasea, which was a
French-based solution. I had way back then experienced implementing products
like MediaBank. North Plains TeleScope I had implemented at a number
of locations around that time, as well. [0:42] I founded DPCI, which is a technology
company that implements content solutions. I founded that in ‘99. We’ve
been doing Digital Asset Management projects ever since with a wide variety of
Digital Asset Management products for a whole variety of use cases, as well.
Henrik: [0:58] How do open source Digital Asset Management or DAM solutions
stack up today?
Joe: [1:04] We have to look at them in a few different ways. The first is the
business of open source DAM. The second, you would have to look at the legal
underpinnings of those solutions. The third would be the technology. Some
people say, “Let’s take a look at the technology real quickly first,” but I think
that’s a mistake. [1:22] One of the reasons why we look at the business is that
the open source DAM projects are very different from the open source Web
content management solutions out there. The CMSs such as WordPress, Drupal,
Joomla, or Plone are principally anywhere between a very large collection of
contributors globally to those projects to maybe a little more modest contributor
[1:48] Generally, it’s anywhere between a few hundred people and thousands
and thousands of people contributing to the innovations of these open source
projects, so they’ve taken firm foothold into the rubric or fabric of not only
our country but globally, the way Web content management innovations are
[2:06] In the case of Digital Asset Management, not as much. You do have solutions
that have been created out of Europe, out of the UK, and here in the
United States that there are a couple of folks that are working on it that are
friends or colleagues, or you’ll have companies that are behind the products
with their own resources. The solutions themselves haven’t necessarily taken
root as global initiatives.
[2:35] That doesn’t mean it’s not going that way. You’re starting to see more of
what happened 10 to 12 years ago in the CMS world starting to happen in the
DAM world. The reason why it’s not going to happen as rapidly is, to me, Digital
Asset Management is a little bit like the plumbing in your and my walls. It’s nice
when it’s working, but it’s not the sexiest thing in the world.
[2:57] The thing that everybody cares about is how nice does your house look.
It’s like the CMS. The CMS is the presentation of your content as well as the
ways in which you develop your content the workflows and so forth. Obviously,
no CMS is created equal.
Joe: [3:13] With respect to DAM, companies principally use Digital Asset
Management systems for archive and retrieval of their assets. That’s a simplified
notion of what DAM should do. Both you and I both know there’s a
huge number of reasons people implement DAM, ranging from selling content
through storefronts to integrating DAMs with CMSs, CRMs, or ERPs
and so forth.
[3:38] In the case of media companies where they’re selling their content,
whether it’s through rich media like video or live streaming, these things obviously
are the core of their business. It’s not just about archival. It’s about real
work in progress and delivering that content across multiple channels.
[3:57] The pace of innovation in the open source world from a business standpoint
is certainly not as rapid yet. It’s not as sexy.
[4:06] There’s one project that we’re involved with for a media company. They’re
headquartered here in New York City. They had been veterans of a couple of
different proprietary platforms. They had spent millions on a couple of different
solutions. They made a determination that they were going to try an open
source implementation. They are doing a good amount of work to having us do
some cool customizations for them to add on top of the open source solution.
[4:34] The question always is…What we like to do in open source is, we like to
contribute back to the community, however small or big it is. Hence, we oftentimes
will go to that customer and say, “As a precursor to our signing on,
do you have any objections to us contributing these solutions out in an open
source way?”
[4:53] That gets to the business aspect of it. The other part of the business
aspect of it is operationalizing DAM. For companies that have had experience
with proprietary vendors, some of the vendors have 24/7 support. Some of
them, not so much.
The DAM vendors can be smaller companies in some cases, so they don’t necessarily
have the resources. When you have a president of a company answering
the phone at 11: [5:07] 00 at night to support you, that’s generally not a good
sign, although some of the presidents of these DAM companies are absolute
geniuses. It’s always a pleasure to talk to some of them. But it isn’t a scalable
model. Operationalizing maintenance and support, it’s something that some
of the proprietary vendors don’t do that well. But if you look at it in the CMS
world, when you think about the kind of services you can get out of an Acquia
and Drupal, which is commercial support.
[5:44] There are other alternatives on that side, as well. Those types of things
aren’t necessarily fully hammered out yet in the open source world. Because
businesses behind the open source DAM projects are sometimes not matured
yet. They may be smaller groups. So that’s going to change over time. The
second point was this notion of the legalistic implications of open source. Not all
open source is created equal or licensed equally.
[6:11] You’ve got different licensing schemes out there. A very common one is
the GNU GPL. You hear about that one a lot in the web CMS world. In DAM,
quite a number of them take advantage of the lesser GPL, LGPL, which has
some limitations. These things people have to really reflect on, when they’re
getting involved. Do they want to do an open source implementations where
there may be some restrictions.
Joe: [6:37] I also look at these products… Does the company who is creating
it, are they paying lip service to open source? But then you start to think, “Do
they have all their documentation out there online? Can you readily download
and install that product?” If you’re really open source, you’ve got to behave like
open source, which to me means freely downloadable and installing, and freely
available documentation.
[7:01] Then it’s your prerogative to decide whether you want to purchase services
from a company or whichever individual. The legalistic application of it
is quite important when people are reflecting on open source. Now we get to
the technical. This is the one everybody really concentrates on first. People ask
me, “Don’t even look at the products if you can’t first look and see what the
business and the legal implications are of the solution you’re about to go forward
[7:29] The open source DAMs are approaching, in general, the work group functionalities
of products out there, in the marketplace. If you look at solutions like
Resource Space or Enter Media, Rezuna as well. There are a couple more, I’m
not trying to plug these products, simply giving it as examples that these solutions
are starting to meet the needs of work group Digital Asset Management,
which would be considered, for me, the ability to import, either individually or
batch, a whole variety of digital asset types.
[8:08] And on ingestion, to be able to automate the creation of thumbnails and
previews and even evoke certain recipes for conversion of the assets. If you,
upload a PSD or any PS file, then you can set up recipes for conversion to JPEG s
at certain widths and depths. The ability to also capture metadata information.
Things aren’t all created equally, but the ability to capture XMP metadata, for
example, is something that is available in several of these products.
[8:38] In one case, we actually did some customizations where we have some
preprocessing of assets within Adobe Bridge for a customer. Then the assets
are going into their open source DAM. It’s a phenomenal thing, because they’re
batch modifying with some extended XMP metadata, with their own panel
within their Adobe Creative Suite products. And then that information is getting
ingested into those open source DAMs.
[9:06] These kinds of basic functionalities are available. It’s really exciting, because
they’re there. We’ve actually implemented quite a number of these kinds
of projects. They’re working. For a year or two years, they’re in business, in
use. The other thing that I find really exciting is that the whole promise of open
source, to me, is you don’t have to say, “Mother, may I?” The whole idea of
innovate and ingenuity in software, the open source software world is the ability
to just step up and say, “I want to create something of value that’s available or
that I need for the context I need it.”
Joe: [9:45] Without saying, “Hey, may I please do that?” And then somebody
saying, “Yeah sure. But pay $20,000 for an SDK and sign this agreement that
you won’t do this or that.” With open source, you can do it. A couple of the
open source products have robust web services and published APIs that, essentially,
allow you to do anything you want, ranging from connecting the DAM
to a produce tike Drupal or WordPress, or connecting it to your CRM, if that’s
what you needed, and so on. That, to me, is the most exciting aspect. In one
case, we did a project down in Atlanta for a company where they had this huge
infrastructure. They needed to just automate the production of real estate
guide books.
Joe: [10:31] So we have this integration of, in that case it was a product called
Enter Media, with believe it or not, a whole Microsoft infrastructure. Integrated
with Adobe Live Cycle, integrated with Data Plan Journal Designer. And integrated,
I’ll add, with the InDesign server. So the whole infrastructure is automating
the pagination of these real estate books, straight from sales folks just
entering the data on the individual homes that are going to be offered.
[11:02] This content is being used to create both the web listings, as well as the
print catalog books or guide books that are being done in multiple states. It’s
saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in their production processes. The DAM
is an underlying technology within the architecture. It works flawlessly and it’s
open source. They save themselves… If you think about the amount of money
they spent on the other infrastructure. [laughs]
[11:28] They spent a fraction of their budget on the actual DAM implementation.
There’s a lot you can do with open source DAM solutions as underlying architectural
decisions for larger projects. And for very modest use cases around
archival and retrieval of assets you absolutely can use those types of solutions in
your business.
Henrik: [11:54] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and
people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Joe: [11:59] That’s a great question and I appreciate it, Henrik. A lot of folks
come into this industry… I should add, I’ve been doing this type of thing for
26 years now. I’m not going to count my tech jobs while I was in college,
which principally were around content technologies. But 26 years ago, content
technologies were a whole different animal. To me, there’s a lot of folks that
enter the market and they want to be DAM professionals and they want to get
jobs doing this. [12:28] My concern has been folks coming out there and never
having laid their hands on a single product, without having done a single implementation.
There’s a lot of information that goes on and a lot of folks that are…
There’s no certification for becoming a DAM professional or a DAM analyst or
consultant. Yet people go out there and help folks with RPs and so forth, and
they’ve never done a DAM project.
[12:54] To me, if you’re right out of college, first of all, there’s some colleges
which actually have some programs, like RI T, the print management school.
They have a course in Digital Asset Management. It is modest. But they give
people a chance to understand how to configure. What are the important use
cases trying to be solved in DAM? Getting hands-on experience with DAM is
really important. Even if you never will touch the technology in your career and
you want to be a pundit or someone who’s just a thought leader, you’ve got to
able to touch them and understand what these types of products, this class
of products, do.
[13:33] What problems do they solve? That’s just me. Other people would probably
emphatically disagree. But I don’t think, going back to the plumber motif
that I said earlier or concept, you can speak with authority about plumbing
if you’ve never laid in the pipes an understand what the heck goes on there.
I certainly don’t understand what’s happening behind the walls. That’s one
thing. The second is, the best, to me, really exciting folks out there are the folks
who’ve gone to library science school.
[14:05] They really fundamentally understand what information science or information
architecture is. How do you define a taxonomy? What is an ontology?
How do you create controlled vocabularies? What’s that process? Sometimes
folks that were in data modeling are very good at that, as well. They’re very
thoughtful. A lot of times we go in as professionals and over engineer the
model, the information architecture of a platform.
[14:35] That becomes onerous for the folks who are trying to capture that metadata
and track it. There has to be a reasonableness that goes on, which again,
goes back to point number one. Which is, try to become a practitioner. But,
understanding that these are human systems, that’s the third thing. Again, we
talk about first laying your hands on these types of things, second is understand
how taxonomy is laid out. If you have money to go to library science school or, if
not, pick up some books on it.
[15:04] There’s some great resources out there for that. The third thing is understanding
the use cases or the work flows. Because the DAM systems don’t necessary
do work flow really well. But every single person or any company that’s
creating, managing, enriching and delivering assets has implicit work flows.
Some that are simple. Some that are very complex. Until you really understand
what those are, you’re going to be hampered.
Joe: [15:34] I’m talking about not just people starting out in their career, but folks
that are 10, 15, 20 years in, that are delivering Digital Asset Management implementations.
A lot of times they don’t pay attention to the ways people interact
with assets through the life cycle. Different asset or content types have different
work flows. The way you’re creating an interactive object is going to be different
from some sort of an image file or video file and so forth.
[16:02] Those have different ways of being manipulated through a whole class of
employee types or user types. So understanding those is really important. Once
you get those you’re going to be more sensitive to the way people work. The
fourth thing is, understand how to listen and understand how people currently
work, meeting them half way. Just coming in and implementing a DAM and
saying, “This is the way it works,” isn’t good enough.
[16:32] To be able to understand how an organization needs to work is important.
To hopefully deliver a DAM solution that supports that work and bolsters
and improves it, as opposed to makes people change the way they work, which
invariably, as you and I both know, doesn’t work. People rebel. You get into all
kinds of change management issues where folks just fight the DAM implementation.
I want to just end on this note, that a good way to inform your career
in DAM is that everybody high fives themselves when the DAM installation is
[17:09] But the way you test the success of a DAM solution is two to three years
out. How many people are using it? How many assets are there? Is it supporting
the business? Has duplication of assets been minimized or eliminated? Are there
issues with finding assets that were thrown in two years before, that are important?
That’s the way you test. You always have to think forward in this business.
Think about the results you’re going to be creating, two to three years in.
Henrik: [17:38] Thanks, Joe.
Joe: [17:40] Cool.
Henrik: [17:41] For more on this and other Digital Asset Management topics,
log onto Another DAM Podcast is available on AudioBoo,
iTunes and the Tech Podcast Network. If you have any comments or
questions, please feel free to email me at
Thanks again.


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