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Another DAM podcast interview with Rob Schuman on Digital Asset Management

Listen to Another DAM podcast interview with Rob Schuman on Digital Asset Management

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 Rob Schuman.
Rob, how are you?

Rob Schuman: [0:10] Great.

Henrik: [0:11] Rob, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?

Rob: [0:14] Well, I got involved about 12 years ago, which was early for Digital Asset Management. Right now, I’m a general consultant. I help people organize, choose vendors, and help them implement the big change management that comes along with any DAM system. Also, advise people on technical issues of how to set up a DAM system that works well for everyone.

[0:39] Back when I was at Sesame Workshop, which was then called Children’s Television Workshop, the Sesame Street producers asked me if there was any way they could view their library without having to go up to the library and pull cassettes and cue up cassettes and all of that. The executive producers had a problem that they were reusing the same clips over and over and over again because those were the ones that people knew in their heads, while clips that were just as good were sitting in the library idle because no one wanted to take the time to go and find them.

[1:13] We said we’d do what we could, and about a year later, we developed one of the first DAM systems for video and television. It was very early in the DAM marketplace, and we believed it was the first or one of the first video Digital Asset Management systems. It was completely homegrown. We had any number of metadata fields and attached them to both proxy video and broadcast-quality video.

[1:41] We also were one of the first to include DAM as part of their workflow. It made producing the show so much easier, got them to do segments, have the segments approved by the producer, then get them right down into the edit room to complete them. I worked for Merck, the drug manufacturing company, and right now, I’m at the New York City Ballet. I call myself “content agnostic” because ultimately every company has their content professionals.

[2:11] They don’t need me to produce content for them. They need me to organize that content and make sure everybody has access to it and make sure that their workflows are automated. They don’t really need another person on content. Really, assets are assets, whether they’re talking about drugs, dance, or Sesame Street. I laugh that I worked for Sesame Street and Dow Jones, and the work is basically the same.

Henrik: [2:45] Organizing information?

Rob: [2:46] Yup, and making sure they can find it.

Henrik: [2:49] Yeah, very key. How does an organization focused on ballet use Digital Asset Management?

Rob: [2:56] Unlike music where there’s a score, dance is really a visual medium. Back in the mid 1980s, somebody had the idea of taking a VHS camcorder and sticking it up on the front of the balcony and taping the ballets. That stayed on VHS for a very long time, updated a little bit when camcorders became digital. They have a library of about 2, 500 or more performances.

[3:26] They have some rehearsals. It’s all on VHS tape. They got a grant from a government group called “Saving America’s Treasures” to try to rescue these. The New York City Ballet has this school so that the students could study choreographers like Balanchine or Jerome Robbins. What they’ve done is built their own Digital Asset Management in just stations.

[3:53] Right now, the theater has been redone with high-definition control room and high-definition cameras. All of the ballets or most of them are recorded as files, which we then add a whole lot of metadata to and put into their asset management system for anyone to find. You can look by choreographer by, of course, the date, and the musical piece.

[4:20] You can look at, “Let’s see all the variations of ‘The Nutcracker'” or “Let’s compare this choreographer’s version to that choreographer’s version.” They’re just starting to get to the launch of this. They want to put a computer and monitor in every dance studio that they’ve got. They have, I think, nine of them, including the ones from the school, so that they can work with the students and show them exactly how it’s done. Video is the only way to capture a live performance, and that’s what they do.

Henrik: [4:50] That’s great. Rob, what are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with Digital Asset Management?

Rob: [4:57] The biggest challenge is the one that almost everybody faces. People think it’s choosing a DAM system or the technology you use or the metadata schema that you use, but really, it’s making sure that your customers are happy that there’s an acceptance of workflow changes. I’ve worked at places with both.

[5:18] At Sesame Street, we never really launched the DAM system, because by the time it came for the date to launch it, everybody had it. People saw it in beta and said, “I need this. I don’t care that it’s not ready. I don’t care, I’ll report bugs, but I want to use this.” That was a big success.

[5:37] At a big company like Merck, management came down and said, “We’re going to use this Digital Asset Management system,” and there was so much resistance. People were just tossing assets in there. There was a lot of metadata management that had to go followed up and a lot of wasted time, effort and energy that if you start with getting the folks enthusiastic, and if you get as close to their current workflows as possible and come in with the attitude that this is not something that management is demanding.

[6:12] This is something that will make your work easier and make you more productive. One example of that, again going back to Sesame Street, one day a woman came into my office in tears because she realized that the DAM system would be down over the weekend for some maintenance. She needed to get something done by Monday or her boss was going to be very angry with her, and she was just so afraid of that.

[6:39] I told her I would talk to her boss and smooth things out, but we still needed to maintain the system. But later, it occurred to me that that’s exactly how a successful DAM should be working. You should be upset if you can’t use it or if the system goes down, because it’s so critical to your work.

[6:58] Some more successfully than others tried to get across that being enthusiastic about the DAM and getting people on your side early in the game is the most important thing. The usual challenge, which is getting people on board and making sure that everything works, technology is changing so rapidly. One of the biggest challenges in DAM right now is the user interfaces.

[7:28] A lot of the systems that I’ve seen are really great on the back end, but forget that there are people on the front end who really need to be coaxed along, just throwing up a series of fields for them to fill in this form. It doesn’t help unless there’s a counteraction of, well, instead of having to write this on paper, or I can find stuff later if I put metadata on it now. Of course, there’s always the ‘metadata policeman’ who has to go in and look at everything going into the system.

Henrik: [8:01] We’re all familiar with those [laughs] , since we do those tasks regularly or we have in the past.

Rob: [8:08] One thing I did at Merck was I put a sign on my cubicle there that said, I thought “DAM” was too violent a word, even though we all like using it. I said this was “Marketing Operations Management,” and I thought “MOM”. Let’s call it the “MOM” system.

Henrik: [8:28] Rob, what advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?

Rob: [8:33] Basically, the only real advice I can give is to go for it. It’s a young and growing area of computer and personal information and marketing information. I’d say study what you can. Ask questions. Learn about metadata. Learn from others. Go to the DAM meet-up to meet people and find out what they’re doing. Then, if you can, get the exposure to a DAM system.

[9:04] You don’t really need to go back to school for a full library degree to understand basic metadata. There’s a need for entry-level people to actually be the ‘metadata policemen’ and enter things into the DAM system. Generally, the person who is in charge of it doesn’t really have the time, particularly for the large systems, to go over what’s going in, to be the ‘metadata police’, so to speak, and make sure that the DAM system is loaded with all of the proper information.

[9:35] I used to advise television people, “Just go and get the exposure to it and show that you’re interested. Volunteer to do some stuff. Sure enough, when they need somebody, they’re going to turn to you, or somebody else is going to need somebody, they’re going to turn to you and get you started at a career.”

Henrik: [9:54] Well, thanks Rob.

Rob: [9:55] Rob: You’re welcome.

Henrik: [9:56] For more on this and other Digital Asset Management topics, go to anotherdamblog.com. Another DAM Podcast.com is available on AudioBoom and iTunes.

If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email me at AnotherDAMblog@Gmail.com. Thanks again.


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Another DAM podcast interview with Karl Lord, Lovisa Idemyr and Tom De Ridder

Another DAM podcast interview with Karl Lord, Lovisa Idemyr and Tom De Ridder | Listen

Here are the questions asked:

    1. How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
    2. How does a global organization focused on furniture and housewares use Digital Asset Management?
    3. What are the biggest challenges and successes you have seen with Digital Asset Management?
    4. What advice would like to give to 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 Karl Lord, Lovisa
Idemyr and Tom De Ridder. How are you?
Lovisa Idemyr: [0:11] We’re good, thanks.
Tom De Ridder: [0:12] Good, thank you.
Karl Lord: [0:13] We’re very well, thank you.
Henrik: [0:14] How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
Lovisa: [0:17] Karl and I, we’re working for Inter IKEA systems, which is the franchise
store of IKEA so for us it’s really important to safeguard all the intellectual
property and the media assets. For me for instance, I’m involved because I was
a project leader for the first Digital Assets Management and rotation with it.
Since then I’ve been working with additional projects related to them and also
the questions that start to pop up once you go into this DAM business.
Karl: [0:44] I work on the IT side so I’m responsible for operations and securing
that the services within the company are working as they should so that the
business has the right availability for the DAM solution.
Tom: [0:56] I am the CTO of a company called Stylelabs and we’re based in
Brussels. We had startups, we started out as a WCMS company but we gradually
moved to the dark side. The back office for marketing solutions and then
DAM is our main thing right now.
Henrik: [1:15] How does a global organization focused on furniture and housewares
use Digital Asset Management?
Lovisa: [1:20] We use it for a lot, and we even have multiple DAMS with them
because we are so many different IKE A companies. We as a franchise to work
we need to protect the brand and also secure intellectual property. We are
making sure that the officially approved assets are available in our DAM so
that we can make additional usage of the assets, so that we can use it for local
marketing, etc. [1:46] We are using it both for the global marketing which is more
about the IKE A catalog, and so on. Then we’re also enabling local marketing activities
because the retailers can click the assets and make additional assets for,
let’s say additional artwork productions based upon that. So we kind of provide
the original assets that have the furniture design, everything is “hunky dory”
and good. Then they can further utilize the assets.
Karl: [2:15] We also use them in addition for the marketing purposes, we use a
lower resolution version for 3D for internal requirements for commercial planning
and store design. We build in 3D complete stores before they’re actually
in the world. The 3D products which we have in the assets as in the DAM will
be used, placing within a 3D model of the store. It’s for the building and design
of the stores and for the retailers. [2:41] So when we go out and deploy a new
store, we’ve already gone through and seen exactly what the flows are. The
passenger, the traffic requirements and so forth, and where the products and
volumes are necessary. Put that all in.
Henrik: [2:52] Excellent. What are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve
seen with Digital Asset Management?
Lovisa: [2:58] Well I would say that when we started this that we were kind of
a bit naive in terms of what DAM meant so it was kind of happily naive [laughs],
because we didn’t really understand what it would take from the business.
Everything from business to IT to infrastructure, and so on. We started off with
this great idea of having [laughs] the possibility to manage all the assets in a
nice way and being able to store and distribute that. [3:23] Then of course we
started a bit small having images, now 3D and product information. During this
roadmap basically getting to learn more about what is DAM all about, what are
the opportunities? A big help there has also been getting good support from
Stylelabs in terms of advising how can we use this technology in a way that fits
us. I would say that having good advisers, that has really helped us in that work.
Henrik: [3:51] Excellent.
Tom: [3:52] Generally speaking for Stylelabs, we’ve done other implementations
also. I can say that next to the technical challenges, the biggest challenge is
user adoption but it’s also the biggest reward. So if your community likes it then
the solution grows and you get back response which is great. So that’s the best
reward and the biggest challenge at the same time.
Lovisa: [4:14] For us for instance, we come from a quite scattered landscape,
having assets available at a dozen number of suppliers. So instead of people
having to find the right person at the right agency or production company, now
we actually know that we have at least one copy in our DAM, and we have a
good support organization for that. [4:38] It’s also a security from a corporate
point of view that all the assets are safeguarded, and it’s not so dependent on
only one person knowing who to call and so on. So that has been quite a reward
I would say because it’s actually working. People are more happy with getting
access to the assets and now it’s getting more popular also to talk about DAM
and intellectual property.
[5:04] Everyone is quite happy that the basics are in place because that’s the
biggest hurdle I would say, getting commitment, getting buy in, getting investments
and so on.
Henrik: [5:12] Of course.
Tom: [5:13] Doing it one step at a time is actually the way to overcome this. Take
it easy, the maturity of the client or the customer plays a big role in how much
we, as an integrator, allow in a first phase. We always try to say, take it easy because
big bang solutions are ready to fail. You shouldn’t try too much at once.
Henrik: [5:34] Makes sense. Baby steps.
Karl: [5:36] Yes.
Lovisa: [5:37] It is a lot to cope with in Germany, within IT, within business. So
many things that are popping up. So basically when you’re doing those kind
of questions, you have to drive additional question marks within the company
that no one has addressed so far. So you’re getting into taxonomy, archiving,
lifecycle management, you name it, search tags. [6:01] All the kind of things that
make sense to put together in a nice harmonized way but no one has really had
the chance to do that in the past. So I would say stepping into DAM that’s also
stepping into all those open, let’s say small silos. [laughs] Getting that into one
big you know [laughs] .
Henrik: [6:20] And what advice would you like to share with DAM professionals
and people aspiring to become DAM professionals.
Lovisa: [6:24] I would say, I went to one of the global DAM events four years
ago as a kind of “DAM for dummies” for me. It was totally new to me. That I
found really good because I got quite a broad input because you had the business
track, you had the technology track, and so on. Also being able to speak to
the people behind the project. Both the successful ones and also the failures.
Henrik: [6:49] Exactly.
Lovisa: [laughs] [6:50] Which was even more interesting. Basically getting to
know people, also being able to listen to, what were the pitfalls. Can we avoid
doing the same mistakes? Are there people there that can help us with certain,
let’s say parts that we cannot manage within our organization? So I think a kind
of mixture of trying to understand what you want to do. [7:13] Having good advisers
on board and having a good network of people that you can call and say,
“How do we manage this? How do you do that?”
Henrik: [7:21] Excellent.
Karl: [7:22] Yes, having that advisory board and being able to get that feedback
about the good and the bad. What’s good about being here now this time
around is that we’re now able to present our success and our discoveries back
and contribute now to the other people working with DAM. Having had the
access to the information now being able to contribute information back is a
good thing.
Henrik: [7:44] Excellent.
Tom: [7:45] I think what’s interesting also in this DAM space is that it’s almost in
between marketing and IT. An impossible bridge to make most of the time but
that’s the beauty of it that you open up your eyes and you hear the stories from
both sides which I think is a rich experience for anybody to have.
Henrik: [8:08] Excellent.
Karl: [8:09] If you’re going into practical requirements, for example, I would say
preparation, preparation, and preparation to go into a project. Really know exactly
what exactly it is that you want to accomplish, and what the requirements
from the users are. Don’t just build a DAM because it’s cool to have DAM. If
there’s a need, use case, take that, establish and use that as your grounds for
going forward.
Henrik: [8:30] Great points.
Lovisa: [8:31] I think also, in terms of a rise or looking into what we can gain
from it. I think not only calculating what does it cost or what do we gain, but
also say that it’s not really a choice, it’s really necessary. There isn’t really a, “No
we can’t do this.” So it’s more about saying, “What can we gain over time?”
[8:53] So there’s a basic implementation first, and then you can do anything to
gain leverage based upon that so the more you add, of course, the more return
on your investment you will get. It’s really nice to have the foundation in place
and now everything we add to that will just be beneficial to the business.
Henrik: [9:11] Excellent.
Tom: [9:12] I could add something about technology if you want. So technology-wise
I would advise to be open for anything and pick the best in breed of specific
use cases. Don’t try to go just with one silo big thing. Just open your eyes,
talk to a mixologist, and he or she will help you get your solution together.
Henrik: [9:37] Thank you.
Lovisa: [9:38] Thanks.
Karl: [9:38] Thank you.
Henrik: [9:39] For more on this and other Digital Asset Management topics, log
on to AnotherDAMblog.com. Another DAM Podcast is available on Audioboo
and iTunes. If you have any comments or questions please feel free to email me
at AnotherDAMblog@gmail.com. Thanks again.

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