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Another DAM Podcast interview with Mikako Ito on Digital Asset Management

Listen to Another DAM Podcast interview with Mikako Ito on Digital Asset Management


Henrik de Gyor:  [0:00] This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with Mikako Ito.

Mikako, how are you?

Mikako Ito:  [0:09] Good, how are you?

Henrik:  [0:10] Great. Mikako, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?

Mikako:  [0:14] I think I’m a little bit unique in this profession. A lot of people who manage the digital assets, may be dedicated their time 100 percent to managing their assets or creating the assets. I’m a Art Director at simplehuman.

[0:32] Then when I was appointed by CEO to investigate the DAM system, I actually didn’t know anything about the DAM system. As a designer, I wasn’t sure how this system is going to be helpful to our company.

[0:50] But now that we implemented the system, I can see that the DAM system is really useful to, not only the company like us, but design and then produce the product by design agency, or any other design related company. Actually, our company is pretty small, so the graphic design department is small.

[1:15] Then what we were doing was, we are putting everything into our company server. But as company starts to grow, we realize that, if we don’t organize these digital assets eventually it’s going to get really messy.

[1:31] One day, our CEO was the one who recognized the company was growing and so was our assets. He put me in charge of finding the solution. I did research, and then I found is there asset management system out there. Then, eventually I pick one of them, and then I implemented it.

Henrik:  [1:55] How does a designer and manufacture of kitchen, bath and beauty tools use Digital Asset Management?

Mikako:  [2:02] All the designers use the asset management system to work on their projects. Once we have the asset which is whether it’s photography that we shot, or rendering that we created, it goes to the retouchers.

[2:20] Then clean up the images and stuff, and then eventually goes up to the asset management system. Once it get in there, designer can pull any of the assets whenever we need it for whatever we need it. Marketing and the sales team also use the assets, the ones which are available to them.

[2:42] Before [DAM System], the graphic team would get constant requests from the sales and the marketing, and we were the department within the organization to send them a file. Since all the assets was in the server, and then only designer, and if you worked on that project, knows where images were, and then what the final assets are.

[3:08] Then every time sales or marketing team needed those assets, we get requests. We have to spend the time to search the image, reformat the image and then send it back to them. We are actually spending a lot of time on organizing the assets, and distributing assets.

[3:29] But once we implemented the DAM system, marketing and then sales can find the image, and then download it in any of the format that they want for themselves. Then the designer doesn’t have to spend the time to do that job for them. That was really helpful.

[3:51] The designers and then other departments of our company, use the system to find assets or archive the assets. When we are thinking of implementing the DAM system, we were wondering if we can use the system to organize, and then archive, and then transferring the files to the factory for the design files. The actual product design files.

[4:21] But design file consists of different parts, so that we found that organizing all the different parts become the one product. It’s not just a file that it creates so that they way that the DAM system organize the files, it was challenging to organize the files that make sense to using for the…to keeping, and then archiving the CAD file.

[4:52] We don’t use the DAM system for the product design file, the CAD file, but we use it for everything else.

Henrik:  [5:00] What are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with Digital Asset Management?

Mikako:  [5:04] The biggest challenge was how to structure the system, so how many catalogs we should have, and then who should have the access to which catalogs. Because of the amount of the assets we have, and then some of them are not really meant to use outside of the company usage, so that we have to create a structure that really works to the different departments.

[5:37] Then certain departments need certain assets only. So that way, accidentally the important assets [don’t] go outside of the company. By the time we implemented the system, we had already a lot of these digital assets without knowing it. To organize those, and then putting into the system the first time, was really challenging.

[6:06] The success part of it overlaps with the answer that I gave to the second question. It helped the whole company to flow, and the design department the time that we used to spend to prepare, and then create all those assets to the different departments that got really reduced.

[6:30] For example, the sales person also creates the file… it’s called planogram. It’s basically what the product will look like on the shelf. Before we were getting similar request so that every time we get these requests we have to resize all the products into the correct scale and then put next to each other on a four foot shelf.

[6:59] Then all our products how that look like on this four foot shelf, so that kind of thing was taking a lot of time for the design department. But now we created this catalog that has every SKU that are available to the sales in the correct scale.

[7:18] All they have to do is to pull all those images, and then just put it into the shelf. That thing really helped the time part of it. Another success is that we always have the most updated assets available to everybody.

[7:39] Before, different designers working in their projects, for example, one designer created this icon, and then during the process of finish that project, the designer Mike, fixed the icon. But the icon didn’t go up to the DAM system and then just lived in this person’s hard drive.

[8:04] Then other designers trying to use the icon, they might not have the most updated icon and..they might use it in a wrong way, or but now that we have system, so one designer fix something and then updated assets go uploaded to DAM system, so that always the most updated assets available to the other designers to use it.

[8:28] That really helped designers to actually could have used the wrong asset or wrong icons and stuff for the project. The number one benefit that we did get from this system was that we were be able to spend the more time to actually designing it than try to organize the assets for other people or other departments.

[8:55] Asset is always available to us, and then I was saying all the available asset is always updated the most current one. That reduced the mistake part of it too.

Henrik:  [9:10] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to DAM professionals?

Mikako:  [9:14] The organization is really powerful. If your digital files aren’t organized, you’re wasting so much time looking for that right file, or your team through all the assets are wasting time searching, and sending the files out, like our graphic department was used to doing.

[9:37] With DAM it helps you save the time and your company is saving money, because you’re able to be more productive. For us, it was really good time saving, and then…time is money so the more the time is saved and then everybody works efficient.

[10:03] I think that was really helpful. If someone who’s thinking about implementing DAM system or not, I think in the long run if everything is organized, and I think eventually that will make much more efficient the whole system.

[10:22] Also ,I do use the system everyday, but at the same time, I’m a designer as well. Then I feel like I’m still not…I don’t consider myself DAM professional. I feel like if you 100 percent, you do is to organize, and then manage the system, then I feel like that person might have better advice but…

Henrik:  [10:48] Thank you, Mikako.

Mikako:  [10:51] Thank you, and I’m sorry. I don’t know if I helped a lot but I just wanted to say that having the DAM system really helped our company. Hopefully, this would help someone who listens I guess.

Henrik:  [11:08] For more and this and other Digital Asset Management topics, go to For this and 160 other podcasts episodes, 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 Julia Thompson on Digital Asset Management

Hear Another DAM Podcast interview with Julia Thompson on Digital Asset Management


Henrik de Gyor:  [0:01] This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset Management. I am Henrik de Gyor. Today, I’m speaking with Julia Thompson.

[0:07] Julia, how are you?

Julia Thompson:  [0:09] Great, thank you. How are you?

Henrik:  [0:10] Great. Julia, how were you involved with Digital Asset Management?

Julia:  [0:14] I’m the Digital Asset Manager at UNICEF, New York headquarters. Part of that role, I’m the administrator of our Global Digital Asset Management System. This includes things like configuring the ACLs, developing and maintaining metadata, working with the DAM vendor on issues, any changes we’d like to make, and features that would be useful to us.

[0:34] My role also includes the development of DAM workflows and advising on best practices, and user support and training.

Henrik:  [0:42] How does an organization focused on long‑term humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries use Digital Asset Management?

Julia:  [0:52] The DAM system that I manage contains just finished materials at this stage, rather than works‑in‑progress, although I see that being something that we may be using the DAM system for in the future. At the moment, it includes photos, videos, branding materials, publications and social media assets and things such as infographics.

[1:12] And also other related peripheral materials, mostly communication materials that are ultimately destined for an external audience. So we work in more than 190 countries and territories and we have content creators and offices all over the world. For us having a global DAM system helps us to break down content silos across the organization.

[1:33] It provides us a way to make rich media created all around the organization, available to UNICEF staff everywhere. The staff use the DAM system to locate materials for repurposing and reuse when they are creating new communication assets. So we offer B‑Rolls for creating new videos, photos that they use in new publications.

[1:52] We also use the DAM system to distribute editable versions of assets for localization. So that means that an office can create versions of assets in their local languages. We use the DAM system as a tool for sharing downloadable assets with news media and with our many partners and stakeholders.

[2:09] It also provides a source for high quality assets for publication on websites and social media, and other internal platforms and it’s integrated with, for the publication of photos by the DAM system API. I’d say that one of the most important roles of Digital Asset Management for us is in helping to protect the rights of the children in our photos and videos, helping us to ensure that assets are used appropriately.

[2:32] So we have some assets, images of children at risk, such as children associated with armed groups, which requires special approval and particular care in their use. The DAM system helps us to handle usage approvals.

[2:45] We are able to use the system to embed the usage terms and conditions and some asset types like images, to make users aware of the usage terms and conditions upon accessing assets in the DAM system.

[2:56] We use the DAM system to pull together packages of assets that relate to a particular focus area or a campaign, which makes it quicker and easier for staff to find the communication materials that they need and the DAM system also provides a definitive source for our branding materials, so that we can keep the UNICEF brands clear.

Henrik:  [3:13] What are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with Digital Asset Management?

Julia:  [3:17] So in some ways our successes and challenges are fairly closely linked. Because the DAM system has become quite central in supporting our communication goals, our users are starting to see the benefits of the DAM system in their work, which is a good thing. It’s exactly what we are aiming for.

[3:34] One of the consequences that we found of having a system that people like and see the value in, is that we’re finding ourself needing to assess and culminate new needs that are arising, we’ve seen the emergence of new use cases, new demands on the system, which have created new challenges to address, new workflows to develop, additional metadata to add, changes in the way that we handle permissions.

[3:57] So these new needs have been a challenge to address. Some taking extra resourcing, requiring changes in the way that we are working with the system. But it’s also nice to see the value of Digital Asset Management in such a large organization. Another challenge that we’ve faced is balancing our shorter and longer term needs.

[4:15] We need our Digital Asset Management to support an often high paced flow of assets within the organization and to outside partners and news media. But we also need to ensure that we have full and accurate metadata needed for the long‑term accessibility of those assets.

[4:30] In an emergency situation such as after the recent Nepal earthquake, the DAM system was used to make photos and videos available to the organization and to the news media, which needed to happen quickly. So in a situation like that there’s not always time to spend fully cataloging an asset before publication and distribution.

[4:50] However, we do need full metadata to ensure that someone can find those assets in a few years and that they have enough contextual information to know what their looking at. So I definitely wouldn’t claim to have all the answers to that dilemma yet. That’s really something we are still working through. But I think in the future, it’s going to have to involve a staged approach to Asset Management.

[5:09] We have a workflow and a system that’s live and user‑friendly enough to meet their short‑term needs, combined with oversight by information professionals, maybe filling in the metadata and making sure that everything looks right at a slightly later stage.

[5:24] And also, I think accepting that good‑enough is sometimes the best you can do. There is really no question that Digital Asset Management in a large organization like that, operating in different time zones is a challenge.

Henrik:  [5:36] I bet. What advise would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?

Julia:  [5:42] One of the things I would recommend is the future proofing as much as possible, being aware of the importance of flexibility and scalability when procuring and configuring a DAM system because you will inevitably be making changes, particularly when working in a large organization.

[6:00] We found it really important to have a system that allows us to be really flexible, making changes to metadata, accommodating new asset types, new asset genres and supporting new asset cases.

[6:12] Related to that, I’d say that it’s important to keep talking to your users well beyond the initial planning and implementation stage, so that your system and workflows can evolve along with the new user needs that will emerge. We’ve definitely had a lot of changes with the way that we are using Digital Asset Management within the new organization, even over a fairly short period of time.

[6:33] For people aspiring to become DAM professionals, I would say that it’s getting hands‑on experience and so getting some exposure to Digital Asset Management in a real organization is super important.

[6:44] I would think that although getting a good handle on Digital Asset Management theory and best practices is key, it’s also really important to be able to navigate the unique culture of an organization to be able to successfully identify business requirements and end‑user needs.

[7:00] At least from my point of view that seems to be where the biggest challenges lie, but also the biggest opportunities for success in Digital Asset Management.

Henrik:  [7:08] Great. Well, thanks Julia.

Julia:  [7:10] Thank you.

Henrik:  [7:11] For more on this and other Digital Asset Management topics, go to For this podcast and 160 other podcast episodes, 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 Kenneth Wilson on Digital Asset Management

Listen to Another DAM Podcast interview with Kenneth Wilson on Digital Asset Management


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

Kenneth Wilson:  [0:10] I’m good today. How are you?

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

Kenneth:  [0:15] I orchestrate the operation of Kohler companies’ digital supply chain, the center of which is the company’s DAM system, and I’ve also recently taken ownership of the communications resource library. That’s how I’m involved in Digital Asset Management.

Henrik:  [0:33] How does an American manufacturing company use Digital Asset Management?

Kenneth:  [0:36] Kohler is a multinational manufacturing company. We have a very diversified group of businesses that are part of the Kohler company, that make up the company. Most people know very well in the plumbing, kitchen, and bath businesses.

[0:52] We also have a hospitality group that has The American Club, which is a five‑diamond hotel, that is in Kohler Wisconsin, along with many golf courses that make up Destination Kohler, along with golf courses in Kohler… Whistling Straits, Blackwolf Run… along with a golf course in Scotland, the Old Course hotel. That makes up the hospitality group.

[1:17] We also have an interior section headquartered out of Chicago, where we have furniture businesses… Baker, McGuire. A custom tile manufacturing company called Ann Sacks in Portland, along with… can’t forget our global power group, who has a number of companies they operate throughout the world.

[1:38] All those companies make up the Kohler businesses and we handle a lot of the communications for all of those different businesses. Right now, we use our DAM system to store a lot of the final marketing images, and the graphic layouts for most of our North American businesses.

[1:56] The global businesses also use the system to some extent. A lot of the products are US SKUs that are also sold in other places but some of our global businesses have SKUs that are specific to them. We’re actually trying to work to encourage them to supply our system with those unique‑to‑their‑location assets.

[2:21] The DAM system that I manage will house the packaging images, the web images that are used for the catalog, as well as the layouts for printed literature, catalogs, the sell sheets that go to our showrooms and also archives digital imagery that serves to document the history and happenings of the company. This documentary and archived footage is mainly captured digitally now.

[2:51] We’ve begun efforts to digitize years’ worth of the history that was not digital, both still and video, and that will all make its way into the system as well. At the digital supply chain, if we look at it as a whole, the front end of it we’ve got a lot of different content creators. We have our own photo studio.

[3:14] We’ve got photographers, who create content, and at the front end of that supply chain, you’re not trying to shape the standards for file formats and making sure things are consistent there. While we have our own staff photographers for the different businesses, globally, we’ll use a variety of photographers, so trying to make sure everything comes in in a consistent form.

[3:37] On the back end, assets from our DAM system are syndicated to a content delivery network (CDN), so that they can be published to our websites and to the web catalogs, and also manage that practice.

Henrik:  [3:52] Kenneth, what are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with DAM?

Kenneth:  [3:58] Personally, one of the biggest current pain points that I have comes around tracking renditions of assets that are headed for both digital and print destinations. It’s tricky to figure out what should be a version when changes are made, or what should really turn into a derivative asset. That’s probably one of the biggest pain points that I currently have.

[4:24] It’s really about educating the art directors on what it means when they version something versus what it means when they create a brand new asset. With all those businesses, we’ve got a lot of printed stuff that we still do, but there’s also a really big focus on digital, of course, using the web. A lot of our businesses are starting to do website redesigns, so that’ll continue to frustrate me this next year.

[4:53] That’s one of our biggest challenges right now. It’s trying to make sure that we don’t have a lot of duplicate content that varies so slightly that people couldn’t really do a search and be confident in the results they find within the DAM, and not really have to sort through, oh, this one’s slightly brighter, this one’s slightly darker.

[5:18] One of the biggest successes that I’ve seen in DAM lately is starting to overcome the notion of simply being a storage repository for the organizations that adopt it, more than a search tool to find things that already exist.

[5:34] One way we’re trying to get over that is the reuse of things we’ve already shot. An image that was shot for our hospitality businesses could be reused in marketing materials for the power businesses.

[5:50] So, that return on investment there. One of the bigger successes is DAM’s ability to shape workflows. One of my major initiatives this year is to implement a review on an approval workflow that we call creative review. In a digital form, it’s something that our creative groups already do, and it’s largely on paper. Trying to move that into a digital space is the big win.

[6:22] One of the major benefits we can get out of it is being able to inform content creators, our photographers, how successful they are shooting to a shot list, by having those discussions by art directors around the images and content they’re creating.

[6:41] Having some sort of record and being able to say, “It’s done, this set of images, you can do this slightly differently and these images will be able to serve a wider range of uses.”

[6:55] That’s one benefit of that workflow type of creative review and approvals implementations.

Henrik:  [7:02] These are very common issues that many organizations have. Getting collaborative tools to your point, and also getting the tools to not only deduplicate, and control renderings, and version control, but also to know what the single source of truth is for brand consistency.

Kenneth:  [7:18] Absolutely. That single source of truth is another pain point. I attend conferences, and a lot of the organizations that are attending may be in search of just starting the DAM process, as far as finding which software to use and how to set it up, how to govern it, and that’s always a battle with whoever holds the purse strings.

[7:41] I think one of the things I may have to be an advocate for within Kohler may be a greater emphasis on a PIM system, product information management tool, and how it integrates with a DAM system, because we use our DAM to drive that syndication of assets out to our web catalog. All those images have to marry to information about whatever’s pictured.

[8:05] Those catalog images, the data from that should come from a PIM. Right now we’re taking that information and inserting it into our system, manually, per asset. We have an opportunity there to automate that more by establishing a single source of truth for that product information.

[8:32] When product information changes, if something gets discontinued, all that information will flow automatically into the DAM system, and so that metadata is more dynamic, living, breathing kind of metadata.

Henrik:  [8:47] That’s a very popular and hot topic in DAM, is to get to product information management to your point, tying with DAM so you don’t have to reproduce the data from one system to another, and have the master record of your information, your catalog items, and all the SKUs, product codes, et cetera, in your PIM, and sync up with the DAM.

[9:06] Your master record is your PIM and the repository of all the imagery that may or may not be active, to your point, is in your DAM.

[9:14] There are several vendors who are very interested in making that easier for companies. You’re not the only organization out there that has this issue, which is great to hear.

[9:24] Kenneth, what advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?

Kenneth:  [9:29] That’s a good question. I can share a little bit of how I got there. Maybe that helps those aspiring to becoming DAM professionals and even inspires those who are. There’s a lot of talk about convergence. One of the topics at a recent DAM conference was, “Are we all becoming each other?” In a way, the convergence helps us push past some of the boundaries we run into.

[10:00] The breadth of knowledge has definitely been a factor in the success that I’ve had with DAM here at Kohler. Before being in this role, I was pursuing a career doing photography professionally.

[10:13] I’ve got an understanding of what the photographers, who are delivering creative content to be stored in this repository, a frame of reference to what they’re thinking or doing. In addition before that, I studied at the University of Michigan.

[10:29] I studied industrial product design, and I was in a school of art and design, and was able to take all the photography requirements as well in my time there.

[10:41] The industrial design thinking, the problem solving, the creative problem solving, those have really been helpful in coming into Kohler, a place that already had an established DAM system, and being able to see what was already happening, and trying to come up with new, more efficient ways to do some of the things they were doing.

[11:06] Our studio’s been digital for probably the last 10 to 12, maybe 15 years. There was a lot of existent content when I got here, but we’re creating more and more images each year than before.

[11:20] The design thinking has really helped to push the boundaries and to come up with creative, new ways of looking at solving the workflow problems, or how content comes into the supply chain, how it moves around and really completes a circle for the asset life cycle, I like to call it, where it may go out to a vendor, but it’s got to come back and it lives in the system. How does that asset end up becoming an archive that we reference back, historically.

[11:49] This year, I’ll be collaborating a lot more with our corporate archivist, as she digitizes a lot of the historical content that she has in her archives. Our history is increasingly becoming captured digitally. We’ll still have physical artifacts in archives in the future.

[12:09] A lot of the speeches that may have been written 60 years ago, that we have a paper‑printed copy, they won’t have a digital equivalent. Trying to preserve some of these things so that they are useful, working assets now, but turn into archives later, that design background has really helped me there. Even before that, I started off pursuing an engineering degree.

[12:37] Coding, computer science, writing code, is also a really good set of skills to have when implementing a system, working with IT to resolve and troubleshoot issues. I think that convergence is something that will really help shape and push the boundaries of the industry. That’s what I would share.

Henrik:  [13:01] Great. Thanks, Kenneth.

Kenneth:  [13:03] Thank you.

Henrik:  [13:04] For more on this and other Digital Asset Management topics, go to Another DAM Podcast has over 150 podcast episodes for you to listen to, including this one. Visit If you have any comments or questions, feel free to email me at Thanks again.


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