Henrik de Gyor: This is Another DAM Podcast about digital asset management (DAM). I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with Lisa Grimm. Lisa, how are you?
Lisa Grimm: I’m very well thank you, how are you?
Henrik de Gyor: Good. Lisa, how are you involved with digital asset management?
Lisa Grimm: It’s a great question. I’ve been in the field with a few exceptions here on and off about twelve years. Before that I started off as a web developer back before we had any kind of real either web content management or digital asset management and as my career sort of grew and evolved it got more and more towards the digital asset management side of things. I started off as an end user of a lot of different sort of we’ll call them early stage digital asset management systems and then as things progressed I got more into building some home grown ones especially when working in nonprofit and academia world where you don’t necessarily have a lot of resources to go out and buy the most amazing system on the planet. That sort of came around full circle where I then worked with some very large enterprise systems a little bit later in my career.
[01:00] Not in my current role but in my previous one, I led all global digital asset management initiatives for GlaxoSmithKline, GSK, working with an interesting system. We can talk a little bit more about there and now I work for Amazon. I’m part of AWS where digital asset management is one part of what I do along with a sort of broader range of knowledge management. I think as we’ll see in my world a lot of the things tie very closely together and I’m also on the board of the DAM Foundation since I’m really interested in driving some global standards and having a lot more consistency in the world of digital asset management. That’s a reason I like to sit on the board.
Henrik de Gyor: Lisa, how does a company focused on cloud computing use digital asset management?
Lisa Grimm: [02:00] It’s an interesting question and I think people will know that Amazon is quite secretive so can’t give away the secret sauce for what we do specifically, but I will say there is a great need with any company whether you’re a company at a large scale or a small scale. Once you start creating those assets whether those are images, whether those are audio, video and I think especially when you’re working with we’ll say more technical people they realize very quickly you need to manage those just because they quickly scale down what you can do on someone’s desktop.
The other exciting thing we do I think is that kind of that’s what we do and more with a lot of our customers do is there are a lot of cloud-based DAM vendors now as I’m sure everyone’s well aware, that are doing some really interesting things sitting on the platform and sort of enabling what they’re doing. It has been really interesting to watch and I think that’s been one of the most interesting evolutions in the field. I think for a while it was a little bit slow to embrace the cloud and I don’t think that was because of lack of innovation in the DAM field itself but more some of those really large enterprises that have invested a lot in their DAM solutions had really kind of invested in that on premise kind of solution or maybe had some security sort of fears around that.
[03:00] I think we’ve evolved beyond that a little bit now. We’re seeing more happen in the cloud especially you think about some of the major media organizations or things like sports broadcasting where they have to scale so quickly and they have so many hours of video that they get added every day, every week that there’s not really a good way to do that unless you’re in the cloud. Again it doesn’t have to be us specifically I think that other cloud vendors are the same and other cloud DAM solutions can sort of latch onto that.
I think as we’ve seen just the scale of what’s out there and what people are consuming and what the people who are creators and managers of those are helping them to consume as those things get bigger and bigger and kind of more and more difficult to describe, I think we’re going to see a further evolution into the cloud and hopefully some more innovation in that space too.
Henrik de Gyor: What are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with digital asset management?
Lisa Grimm: [04:00] I think one of the biggest challenges you come across in a lot of organizations is just it’s actually sort of two-fold. There’s choosing the right system and the adoption of that system. Sometimes even if it’s the right one it can be difficult to get people to start using it because it can be a big shift in terms of the sort of change management within that ecosystem especially the larger company. That’s certainly something I encountered a lot of working at GSK was that it was such a shift to go from having all of your assets either again managed on people’s desktops or managed by an agency to having those in one place even though that sounds to us in the DAM world like an obvious win, it can be a big shift to people who have not been working that way especially when you’ve been working in a system where there hasn’t been a lot of change.
That can really be difficult to one, not only pick the right system but then too, make sure that people are really happy with that system, really feel comfortable with that system and that you can actually go out and be an advocate for the system.
Of course when you’re an advocate for the system you’re also advocating for your users. You want to make sure that they feel comfortable, they feel like they’re able to speak up like their feedback is being taken on board. If there’s something they don’t like, you want to make it better. I think it’s interesting that when you have those sort of challenges you have to really walk this fine line of being essentially a product manager for your DAM as well as making sure you’re the gatekeeper for what’s coming in and out and that you’ve got all your ducks in a row just from sort of technical and metadata perspective.
[05:00] You really have to make sure that your users are right there at the forefront of it too. On the flip side of that then you can see a lot of success when you’re really working closely with your users, when you have some really good standards about what’s coming in, how you’re describing it, that people are actually able to find what they want. I think you see especially a lot of success now with some of the industries that embraced DAM early on certainly a lot of the creative agencies. I would point to a lot of the innovation we’ve seen in coming out of academia with museums, digital humanities where they’ve been really embracing what DAM can do and starting off thinking about things like digital collections that used to be online. I’ve had some really good experiences working with those in the past but I think we’ve seen a lot of innovation there where they really said, “Hey this could really be a great outreach mechanism for us not only with organizing our things but making sure that people can find them outside of our system.”
[06:00] It’s really been a good way for organizations like that to open the door to a wider audience and let people in. A good example of that is I worked at the Drexel University College of Medicine in their Legacy Center their archives and they have an amazing digital collection that’s in what’s essentially a home grown DAM but because it’s in there now they’ve been able to use that to really … They have really great control over their things now. They can get them out in the wider world and I’ve seen individual pictures now that had previously just been sitting in a box say ten years ago. They’re digitized, they’re well described and they’re being picked up really by things that you wouldn’t even expect.
There’s things like a Mighty Girl on Facebook or a lot of these other organizations that have kind of reached out and say, “Oh wow there’s this amazing corpus of historical material we can get in there and get to,” and I think a lot of the innovation we have seen in the DAM field is coming from those museums, those archives who realize it’s a way to not only get good control over their collections but to get them out there.
[07:00] I think it’s interesting to tie back to that when a lot of the focus you see in where is DAM going in the next five to ten years is very much focused on how can it support my marketing work or how can it really help drive my sales organization forward. While those are important, certainly working in the e-commerce or if you’re in advertising it certainly makes sense, but there are all these other use cases that I think have really driven things forward. I think certainly some of those marketing and e-commerce sites have been a beneficiary of some of the work done before by folks using DAM in academia and in museums.
Henrik de Gyor: What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to be DAM professionals?
Lisa Grimm: I think for people who are already in the field, I’d say buckle up. I think it’s going to get even more exciting. I think we’re at sort of a tipping point where in the past few years we’ve gone from people saying, “Oh how can I get buy-in to get a DAM? How can I make the business case to sort of having one being that it’s working,” and then now thinking about, “Okay now we can actually go beyond what we have. We can get a little more exciting here. We can really start.”
[08:00] Again I think innovation is going to be one of the key things we’re going to be seeing. I think we were slightly stagnant for a little while where it was more just about having something that worked but now I think people are starting to push the boundaries a little bit more both on the vendor side and on the user side to say, “Hey wouldn’t it be great if …,” then we can see if that’s going to go together. I think especially as we think about not just video but I think we’re also going to reach a point where the DAM is going to be your single source of truth for almost any kind of digital object where at the moment we still think of it quite often not exclusively but quite often in terms of the DAM is where we’re storing our images, our audio/video, having one place to go to get to really define anything we need not just those things that we think of in the traditional DAM.
[09:00] As far as people who want to become DAM professionals, this is an area I’m really passionate about. It’s reaching out to people who have the skills but may not know that those are the skills they have especially librarians, archivists and certainly I have a bias towards that. I come from that world even though I started off as a developer. I then went back to librarian school mid-career and came back out again the other side doing more DAM specific things. Even here at Amazon I found some other people who have followed a similar path. I think just reaching back out to people who are either in school now or who are early career in those fields who often are not being paid very well to reach out and say, “Hey there are other alternatives. There’s this great career you probably don’t even know exists. You’ve got the skills for it whether it’s in having a great understanding of taxonomy and metadata or having a lot of really kind of scrappy technical skills where you just kind of go in and get things done.
I think that’s something that really only helps DAM drive forward as a field where you’ve got these people who really want to make a difference and who have these really key skill sets when it comes to describing things, finding things. That’s kind of what we do but I think that’s a really important thing is making sure that those people know that this field exists and that we’re doing a good job of promoting the field to whether that’s … I think we certainly like to all talk at conferences and I don’t think it’s insular. I think we do a good job of outreach but I always think we can do more and just publicize it a little bit more.
[10:00] One thing I’m actually trying to do in the next year or so is to work with some folks here to try to get a panel at Society for American Archivists next year and saying, “Hey this is an alternative career for people who have the skills you have but we’d love to get you in here and love to teach you a little bit more about the field.” I do think it’s incumbent upon those of us already in the field to make sure we’re making sure that the ladder doesn’t end with us. We can reach back down and reach back out and say to people, “Hey, come on in, water’s fine and there’s a lot of work to do yet, come join us.”
Henrik de Gyor: Well thanks, Lisa.
Lisa Grimm: Thank you very much.
Henrik de Gyor: For more on this, visit anotherdamblog.com. If you’d like to listen to another 185 other episodes of Another DAM Podcast, go to anotherdampodcast.com. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks again.