Another DAM Podcast

Audio about Digital Asset Management

The People Aspects of Digital Asset Management: Part 2

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In October 2013, I gave a presentation on ‘The People Aspects of Digital Asset Management (DAM)’ during the Createasphere DAM Conference in New York City. This presentation was audio recorded so it could be shared with you. Enjoy.



Henrik de Gyor:  [0:01] This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking about the people aspects of Digital Asset Management. Here is part two of the Createasphere DAM conference presentation I gave in New York in October 2013. Enjoy.

[0:20] You may need a gatekeeper. Most people don’t consider that when they get a DAM. They think that it’s just technology, it’s just software. No, that’s wrong. It’s not just software, and it’s not just technology. It involves people, process, technology and information. If you don’t have all four working together, you don’t have a working DAM.

[0:43] The other thing that I’m going to throw in there is, are we the new Mechanical Turks? How many of you are familiar with the Mechanical Turks? Not just the service that’s available today, but the chess playing tool from many years ago, where there was actually a skilled chess player underneath and nobody knew how the system worked.

[1:04] It just had a… “robot”. Not really, underneath there was a human, someone who did all the work underneath. No one realized what was under there. We may be the new Mechanical Turks. Are we? DAM is not a game, so not really. It involves more skills than just chess and it takes far more patience than chess.

[1:31] People don’t understand DAM, and it takes often a lot of explanations. Everyone who’s worked in DAM long enough understands that they have to educate a lot of people in and around and across their organization, and whoever is going to touch their DAM. Make them understand why this is important for the organization, what value it serves to them, not just to me because I don’t count. It’s what the organization needs, and they need to be able to find their assets, otherwise you’re wasting money.

[2:09] Your DAM is only as good as its metadata and how well it’s been curated, and how well it’s cataloged to find those assets over and over again. There may be less reasons. You may have heard of others why we are not the Mechanical Turks, we may find it insulting. There’s a lot to consider in DAM, way too many acronyms and terms to consider and things to think about.

[2:36] Back to the who, there’s plenty of different roles to play within organizations that are involved with Digital Asset Management, at least when you’re starting out. These are all different roles that play a part, whether it’s temporary or permanent within your organization.

[2:54] A DAM shouldn’t be really stagnant. It should evolve with your organization, and the people should evolve too. That may take significant change management amongst all of you, and your organization itself. There may be resistance because [sarcastically] people love change, right? No, they usually don’t.

[3:16] One of the phenomena I’ve seen is, people are volunteered for DAM, or on rare occasions, people volunteer themselves to do DAM. Typically, they are volunteered and typically it’s not their core competency…what they were hired for.

[3:32] A designer or marketer or photographer or PM, they didn’t really sign up when they were first hired to do that. What is their passion and why would they stay through all this pain? Anyone who’s worked through DAM knows how much pain you have to go through to make people understand and show them the value, and explain it over and over and over again, and illustrate why this is important.

[4:02] You can show them the numbers, you can illustrate why it’s important to them, how it’s important to them, how they could use it themselves and how it could make their lives easier. They have to understand it themselves, otherwise you’re not going to win and you’ll keep on explaining it over and over and over again. Then, you’ll keep burning money until that issue is resolved.

[4:24] There’s often a lot of guidance, there’s a lot of training and it’s not just training once by a vendor and then they run away, but ongoing support has to exist for a DAM. Otherwise, you will not get the adoption, the user adoption of a system. You will stand up a system and it will be what’s called a ‘shelf baby’. How many of you are familiar with what a shelf baby means?

[4:44] Yes, it’s one of those systems that you pay lots of money, you put lots of care, lots of nurturing into it and then it just sits there and nobody uses it. That’s a big waste of money, right? It’s not a ‘check box’, you want the system to be used that’s why you invested in it. You want people to be able to find their assets. That’s an investment in time.

[5:05] If you are not tagging your assets and you are accumulating more and more every day, that means you have to tag those new assets almost every day, appropriately, so you can find that content within those assets. Not just, it’s a photo! How many photos do I have? 20,000. Well, I’ll just scroll endlessly.

[5:24] [laughter]

Henrik:  [5:25] Bad idea. That doesn’t scale, right? It’s not scalable. You’ll just continue scrolling endlessly. It doesn’t work. Some organizations think that works. No, it doesn’t. Those solutions often don’t scale either, so there’s a lot to do there.

[5:45] There’s also the question, do I need additional headcount? Well, it depends on the volume of assets that you have. If you have a set number of files and you upload them, and you never have more assets…

[5:58] [laughter]

Henrik:  [6:00] …maybe not, but if you accumulate on regular basis a small volume that it takes N number of people to tag and this is something that you have to measure. How long does it take someone to add the appropriate metadata so you can find it again?

[6:13] Your user groups, meaning the people who are actually going to use the system. Not the business people who are just going to pay for it and say, “OK, what business value is this bringing me? Why keep paying these $100,000 bills every year”? Or the IT people say, “It’s still up, go ahead and use it. It’s still working. No one’s touching it but it’s still working.” It’s often the creatives, right?

[6:37] It’s often the creatives that are creating more and more files, but they don’t like metadata. How many creatives are in the room? OK, a few. How many of you who are creatives love spreadsheets? OK.

[6:50] [laughter] Survival.

Henrik:  [6:53] Fair, fair, yes, so aside from the one…

[6:57] [laughter]

Henrik:  [7:02] …yes, sometimes you have to do what’s needed, right? A lot of creatives prefer to create files for some reason, because that’s what they were hired for and that’s their passion, right? Getting creatives to actually do that tagging work is next to very rare, to put it nicely, because they don’t want to.

[7:23] They don’t want to…they’ll pretend they can’t spell, they…

[7:28] [laughter]

Henrik:  [7:29] …won’t spell, they won’t use any instructions, they won’t read, they’ll pretend they can’t. I’ve seen it all, so DAM hiring is quite often the need. Your options are, learn what’s out there, there’s more and more resources now. One of the reasons I created my blog is because there wasn’t enough information in the user and administrator perspective of DAM. That’s why I started blogging, because there wasn’t enough information.

[8:00] There is more now, not enough, but there is more now. I blog on a very regular basis about what is needed by the DAM community, not just us, the users, but the vendors, and the readers are users and vendors and everyone else who kind of cares. There’s plenty out there to talk about and I’m not the only blogger, I recently did a talk with some other bloggers and there’ll be more.

[8:29] Bloggers are just one part of it. There are also websites like CMSWire, like the DAM Foundation, the DAM Coalition, a bunch of others that have information about DAM that is very useful, so read about it. Watch webinars from all the different vendors, not just your preferred one. Some of them are more useful than others, especially the ones that are less salesy.

[8:52] Network with others. In New York, we have the luxury of having the world’s largest [DAM] meetup group, which you’ll meet tonight, from 5:00 to 6:30. We have 570 members, 106 of them are coming tonight. I’m one of the co‑organizers, Michael in the back is another one. Chad, if he’s in the room is, is the founder.

[9:13] We doubled the size of our membership this year, so there’s plenty of networking available and we video record every session whenever we have a panel. So worldwide, even if you are not in New York or your schedule is busy, you have the availability to watch our videos and they’re on YouTube for free.

[9:33] Use consultants as necessary. I’m a DAM consultant, full disclosure.

[9:39] [laughter]

Henrik:  [9:40] …and there is DAM hiring. There are more and more DAM jobs, there’s about a hundred almost every day available. You go on, on,, you can find DAM jobs and you can also post DAM jobs just make sure you know what you’re looking for. When I talk to recruiters, most of the time they don’t know anything beyond a req. Fix that.

[10:03] [laughter]

Henrik:  [10:04] Know what you’re looking for yourself. It takes people obviously. To do the research, to prioritize, to make the decisions, to analyze the information because the analysis isn’t done by a machine, to create processes and actually follow them, to hold those accountable, usually everybody, and to select the right system for your organization, and not to over‑complicate, but to simplify, and to do the DAM work…

[10:38] [laughter]

Henrik:  [10:39] …or to fail or to succeed. It’s up to you.

[10:44] Thank you for listening. For more on this and other Digital Asset Management topics log on to Another DAM podcast is available on AudioBoom and iTunes. If you have any comments or questions please feel free to email me at Thanks again.

Click here to revisit Part 1 of this presentation


Author: Henrik de Gyor

Consultant. Mentor. Podcaster. Writer.

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