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Another DAM Podcast interview with Michael Hollitscher on Digital Asset Management

Michael Hollitscher discusses Digital Asset Management



Here are the questions asked:

  • How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
  • Do you find yourself often closely linked with both the creative and technical side of your business?
  • You recently started a meetup group called NYC Digital Asset Managers. This has been quite successful in its first year. When did you first start this group?
  • What advice would you like to share with DAM Professionals and even people aspiring to become DAM Professionals?


Henrik de Gyor: [0:01] This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset
Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today, I’m talking with Mike Hollitscher. Mike,
how are you?
Michael Hollitscher: [0:08] Good. How’s it going?
Henrik: [0:11] Good. How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
Michael: [0:16] I am the manager of Digital Asset Management for a digital marketing
agency called Digitas. When I first started here, we were an independent
company, national in scope. In the past two or three years, we were purchased
by Publicis Groupe. We’ve become part of the global digital arm of, I think, the
third largest media and advertising company in the world now. [0:58] My job basically
revolves around trying to ingest and organize all of the digital assets that
we are creating and receiving from our clients.
[1:09] In addition to that, I’m also involved in a bunch of other technology issues,
just trying to see where we’re going for the future.
Henrik: [1:20] Do you find yourself often closely linked with both the creative
and the technical side of your business?
Michael: [1:25] Oh, absolutely. In the end, I end up being the liaison between
those two. Not only just creative, also our marketing people, our delivery
people, our creative…Really, when you get right down to it, DAM is much more
of a marketing tool than, I think, a creative tool. [1:48] I end up having to speak
both languages, the core group’s language and also, to a certain degree, IT. I’m
not an IT person. I’m still confused as an IT person all the time, but, basically, I
interface between those two groups quite a bit.
[2:08] That’s kind of where it comes in that I’m trying more to see where we’re
going and where the pain points are in our Digital Asset Management strategy
and just our content strategies at this point.
Henrik: [2:26] You recently started a meetup group called NYC Digital Asset
Managers. This has been quite successful in its first year. When did you first start
this group?
Michael: [2:35] I can’t really claim ownership of, say, starting the group. That
was really on Chad. Chad and I actually met at a Henry Stewart conference at
Davis. I believe it was two years ago now, and it’s interesting how it springs out
of, I think, a lot of people’s experiences going to Henry Stewart and various
DAM conferences over the last six or seven years. [3:03] I was actually presenting
on some of the strategies we’ve used to tag photo libraries, or other sort of
assets, with XMP metadata, and how we were looking to…Basically, our nuts and
bolts process, and then pushing it out, and where we’re going for the future.
Afterwards, Chad came up to me, and he was really excited because he was
basically doing the exact same stuff that I was.
[3:32] It just so turned out that we share a Digital Asset Management platform.
We use the same vendor. We also share an integrator. We had a great conversation,
and one of the things that’s always been interesting about going to DAM
conferences since…The first one I went to was probably in 2003 or 2004.
[3:54] It was just that back then, you were always working in this sort of vacuum,
and you’re flying blind a lot of times. Maybe you had an integrator, maybe you
didn’t. You talked to your vendor, but there wasn’t a good amount of standards,
and there weren’t really a lot of people to talk to. At that point, Henry Stewart
was the one time a year you could actually go somewhere and talk to people,
and not feel like you were absolutely, totally alone.
[4:31] We had shot emails back and forth, and Chad was interested in setting up
a meetup group, he mentioned. He said he started one, and he asked if I would
help out, and I was able to provide a few different ideas, and a few different
resources to really start it to get it going. After a while, I was basically billed as a
[4:49] We’ve basically just been bouncing ideas back and forth to each other,
and coming up with good people to bring in, to present.
[4:59] I think it goes back to what I was saying about how it was six or seven
years ago, that it’s like…I think what we’re really providing is an opportunity for
people to come in and just actually have a chance to talk to other people in
their realm, in their field, because, in general, when you’re doing Digital Asset
Management, you’re the only guy there.
[5:24] Maybe you have some contacts with other people in your office, but there
really aren’t any other people who are sharing your experience.
[5:34] There’s just so much to pull in and there are so many different directions
you can go with it. It’s a very holistic career where you are looking at the entire
process of how your company is doing their work. Most people don’t. Your average
worker at a job is just like…They’re focused on their small part of the puzzle.
[6:02] I would say, without sounding maudlin, it can get a little lonely at certain
points where it’s like, “Who can I call upon? Where can I learn how to deal with
video assets better? How to set up a taxonomy? Who’s doing stuff that’s really
exciting and cool?”
[6:22] That’s really what we’re trying to provide, sort of a knowledge base. But
also because I’m finishing up a master’s at Pratt in library and information sciences,
one of the things I’ve been trying to do is a lot of outreach to other LIS
programs in our area.
[6:45] We’ve been getting a pretty fair amount of students coming in who, in
a field that is becoming vastly more digital. They can really start getting their
feet wet and get an idea of where everything’s going, whether this is a good
career choice.
[6:53] A lot of times, those are who the best ideas come from. We’re very egalitarian.
We’re looking…If you’re a member, you can present because we have a
lot of experts but we also have a lot of people, even if they’re just starting out.
They’ve come up with fantastic ideas or they have great internships. We’re looking
for knowledge from everybody in that way.
Henrik: [7:19] What advice would you share with other DAM professionals and
even people aspiring to become a DAM professional?
Michael: [7:26] That’s a good question because…It’s interesting how the whole
field, the space has changed because, again, if you’re going back to the early
part of the last decade, you could go around and ask 15 different people who
are managing a DAM how they ended up in that job. It was really like a company
bought a system and they looked around the room and looked at one
guy or one girl and said, “That person’s running it.” [7:58] Invariably, they came
from some print field, usually production or something like that. There are a
lot of people, like myself who were just thrown into the breach and they just
had to learn all the different aspects of how to make this happen, how to do it
on the fly.
[8:23] I’m cheering for the home team here, but I think having a library science
degree is a fantastic way to do it. It’s a great way to get a grounding in it but I
think it’s kind of a specific type of person, in a lot of ways, too.
[8:38] In the end, what we’re talking about is classification. Classification is,
again, another really holistic concept and it’s a very basic concept because it’s
like when…It’s so inherent in our human experience because the one thing all
humans do when they look at something…After they look at something, they
classify it. They put it in a particular box or a particular category.
[9:05] It’s really taking an organization’s assets and trying to…Not only to classify
it but also to figure out how they move and what are the best states for them to
move from. It’s a bunch of different complimentary, somewhat what’s the term
I’m looking for sometimes competing skill sets.
[9:29] Being able to be very granular but have that holistic sort of overarching,
big picture view at the same time. Having a lot of focus but also having to be
incredibly gregarious and willing to be very social and just always trying to find
a way to develop stuff in a new, different way. You have to be very patient and
very impatient at the same time.
[9:57] I would say it’s an interesting field to get into if you want to be the hub of
everything. If you have a lot of ideas about content and where the web is going
and where digital content is going, as well.
[10:19] I was reading a really interesting “Wired” article on the train coming in
about how we’re moving into more of an application model again, in terms of
the Internet with apps, with mobile. Everything is becoming little pieces rather
than the free, wide open web anymore.
[10:45] One of the things that got me thinking…This kind of goes back to the
whole of Jonathan Zittrain throughout the…We’re really going back into a
stage in computing that’s based around appliances again. That’s where DAM
fits in beautifully as, really, the content delivery device for all these different
[11:12] At the same time, what it really comes down to…You just have to be a very
good communicator, I think. Somebody who’s really willing to just roll up their
sleeves and try and iron out a problem that you’ll probably never completely
iron out because everything moves too quickly.
[11:34] You just really have to be willing to build as many bridges as possible and
love technology, but also hate it a little bit, too, in order to find where technology
stops and where culture starts and how to fix those culture issues, as well. I
think you’re building bridges not only through technology, but also through just
getting people to talk to each other.
[12:04] In the end, you’re more a personality type than you are somebody who
has a specific set of skills at the beginning of it.
Henrik: [12:15] That’s fair. Thank you, Mike.
Michael: [12:16] No problem.
Henrik: [12:18] For more on Digital Asset Management, log on to Thanks again.


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Author: Henrik de Gyor

Consultant. Podcaster. Writer.

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