Another DAM Podcast

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Another DAM Podcast interview with Joel Warwick on Digital Asset Management

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Here are the questions asked:

  • How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
  • How long does it take to implement Digital Asset Management within an organization?
  • Why does it take this long to get it working within the organization? What is involved?
  • What advice would you like to share with DAM Professionals and 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 speaking with Joel Warwick. Joel,
how are you?
Joel Warwick: [0:09] I’m good, and how are you?
Henrik: [0:11] I’m good. Joel, how are you involved with Digital Asset
Joel: [0:14] I’ve been consulting in this field for almost 10 years now. Primarily,
I’ve done most of my work with end-use firms, firms that are implementing DAM
in one way or another. I’ve also done some work for the technology vendors,
both in DAM and in the auxiliary space, helping them with their strategy. [0:32]
Especially as the proliferation of SAAS-based services have come out there,
DAM vendors have had a challenge figuring out how to meet the needs of hosted type
implementations while still serving firms that are looking for the on site,
enterprise implementation.
Henrik: [0:49] How long does it take to implement Digital Asset Management
within an organization?
Joel: [0:53] That’s a loaded question. It depends on how you look at what
implementation means. If we’re just talking about implementing the software,
some organizations, it can happen in a few weeks. [1:06] I would argue when I
talk about implementation, the goal that I propose with my clients is, “When are
you going to actually be able to take advantage of new and improved business
[1:20] What I mean by that is, “Why do we implement enterprise systems in the
first place?” It’s not because of some feature or function that they have. It’s because
we want to change our business processes in some way that benefits us,
whether it’s cost savings or lighting up a new revenue channel, what have you.
[1:36] In order to change those business processes, there are a lot of other
pieces, other than just implementing the software. Most of my work has been
helping clients through that. That takes a lot longer than just implementing the
software and training users on it.
[1:53] There are a lot of pieces that really have very little to do with the software.
These are issues of what I call “operational design,” which is a big catchall that
covers everything from organizational alignment, to detailed workflow planning.
[2:09] It really depends on the size and complexity of the organization. I would
argue that you’re looking at, at a minimum, a few months to be up and running,
where you say, “We used to do it this way. Now we do it this other way, with the
benefit of this new technology.”
[2:27] The technology itself doesn’t make that change happen. That’s a misconception
that a lot of people fall into. Even after doing this for a long time, I still
tend to fall into that, too. It’s so attractive to think, “We get this thing installed,
then we’ll be able to do this, this new way and it’s going to be great.”…
[2:45] Unfortunately, that change has to be programmatically implemented.
There’s a lot of upfront work that has to happen before the software actually
gets implemented. In some organizations, honestly, it takes years.
[2:59] That’s not to say that they don’t get benefit earlier on. They might get
benefit after three months or six months. But, the real change that they’re looking
for, and the ROI that they’re looking for when they decide to implement
DAM, may be a couple years out.
Henrik: [3:15] Why does it take this long to get it working within an organization?
What’s involved?
Joel: [3:23] When I talk about operational design…I’ve presented about this
quite a bit, as you know, and written articles about it as well. I’ll throw out some
components that are what people, especially an IT group, wouldn’t typically
think of as part of an enterprise system implementation. [3:41] Things like standards,
workflow design, digital rights models, organizational alignment, all the
capture and migration that have to go on, capturing assets and migrating them
from existing systems. Also, the appropriate scoping can be a real challenge in
figuring out, “What content are we going to put in this thing? What users and
what workflows are going to be included?”
[4:06] People oftentimes don’t have that much patience, especially executive
sponsors. You want to show value right up front, so you want to try to figure out,
“What content do we get in this thing now?” and, “What workflows do we light
up using this new system that are going to show some benefit, but at the same
time isn’t everything under the sun?”
[4:25] That’s how most organizations look at this. They go, “We’re going to throw
everything in here and we’re going to use it for everything.” Unfortunately,
you can’t do that all at once. Just the disruption it would cause makes business
impossible. Staging it appropriately by getting the right user and asset scope,
that’s an exercise in and of itself.
[4:44] In terms of where a lot of the time is, I would actually say that the organizational
alignment piece is the trickiest piece. That can be for a number of reasons.
It could be because you have an organization that’s very fragmented, and
you have groups that have been fairly autonomous up until this point.
[5:03] The model is, “We’re all going to start sharing stuff. We’ll be able to reuse
content.” If those groups aren’t already oriented towards that type kind of work,
there’s going to be a challenge redesigning those business processes.
[5:16] Sometimes it’s not political, at all. It’s just that the groups don’t know that
much about each other, or they’re sharing very little content and there’s an
expectation that that’s going to change overnight. We know how organizations
are. It doesn’t matter what the change is, that type of fundamental operational
change isn’t going to happen overnight.
[5:35] But the most important piece is actually having people working on that
specific problem, going in and understanding the workflows of both groups,
looking at where they interact, designing those interaction points and in particular
the standards, the policies, and the practices that have to change.
[5:51] Just to give you a very specific example, a lot of times let’s say that there’s
a print group, some kind of print publications, whether it’s marketing or publishing,
and there’s the web group. They say, “Why doesn’t the web group have
access to all the images that the print group has? They might as well. We’ll
figure out the rights issues and whatnot.”
[6:13] But the thing is, the web group has not been acquiring their content.
Suddenly, they’re being told, “You have to go look at the print group’s images
first before you go off and buy your other images.” What’s the policy going to
? This is where you could get into a political issue. Even if it’s not political, you
still could just get into an issue of, “This isn’t the right content for us.”
[6:33] Someone actually has to do an assessment of whether that policy is going
to work. Then, once you’ve established it, there’s the actual enforcement of the
policies. Is this going to be a really hard rule where they really can’t go off and
buy new images as they have been? Or is it going to be more flexible as they
figure out how to do it? It’s just one specific example, but you can imagine in a
lot of organizations that that’s not a minor issue.
[6:59] Because it can get political, it involves people in those organizations at
more senior levels than just what you would look at normally for an implementation.
The head of the business unit, the print business unit for instance, probably
has to talk to the head of the web operations or the online unit to figure out
where that balance is going to be.
[7:20] That’s one of the reasons that involving the right people upfront in getting
that organizational support is really, really important because when you’re
way down the road in a project and you’re trying to figure out the metadata
model so you can get the system turned on in two months, that’s not the time
to run into that snag and say, “Uh-oh. We have to involve all these more senior
people” because you know what happens then.
[7:42] It goes into a bucket of conflict resolution. The solution that comes out of
it may not be the best one for the system or for the operations. It may just be
that someone’s trying to put out this fire so to speak. So getting them engaged
upfront is really important.
Henrik: [7:57] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and
people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Joel: [8:00] I think the challenges right now is that the space is so fragmented
and complex, even in nature. When people say “digital media,” that’s all over
the map right now. I think that’s the real trick, is to understand the space, who
the players are both in terms of the technology but also firms that can help
organizations whether it’s consulting firms or system integration firms or a professional
services group from the vendors themselves. [8:29] Then, understanding
how to leverage those without just dumping tons and tons of money into it
because that model just doesn’t work anymore. The big consulting firms come
in and say, “We’re going to hang out with you for two years, and it’s going to
cost $2 million.” Nobody has budgets for that kind of thing anymore, which is
probably all for the better.
[8:47] There are a lot of opportunities for people that have some experience like
yourself, managing content operations if you want to call it that, or digital media
services organizations to go out again to help other firms if that’s what they’re
looking to do.
Henrik: [9:01] Thanks, Joel. For more on Digital Asset Management log onto Another DAM Podcast is available on Audioboom,
iTunes and Tech Podcast Network. Thanks again.

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Author: Henrik de Gyor

Consultant. Podcaster. Writer.

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