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Another DAM Podcast interview with Lisa Grimm on Digital Asset Management


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 If you’d like to listen to another 185 other episodes of Another DAM Podcast, 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 Bryan Cohen 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 Bryan Cohen. Bryan, how are you?

Bryan Cohen:  [0:10] I’m great, thanks. Thanks for having me on the podcast today. I appreciate the invite.

Henrik:  [0:14] Bryan, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?

Bryan:  [0:17] I’m the Digital Platform Lead for Pfizer. My main role is overseeing the digital platform that we use for review and approval of all of our pharmaceutical promotional materials. That’s a global system that has about 5,000 users.

Henrik:  [0:33] How does a leading research based biopharmaceutical company use Digital Asset Management?

Bryan:  [0:39] We use it in a couple of different ways. Our key is because we are so highly regulated with what we can actually show to consumers and what we can actually show to our healthcare providers. Our main focus with Digital Asset Management is to review and approval process for all the materials that we create.

[0:57] A lot of people don’t realize…much like a magazine, or a newspaper, even an online website…the amount of review that goes into every little PC you see, whether it’s in a doctor’s office, or commercial TV, or even a radio ad. It goes through a very intense review and approval process.

[1:16] Not just from an editorial standpoint, but also from a medical, legal, and regulatory standpoint, before even gets submitted to the FDA. That is our main focus. There are tons of different rules and regulations. United States is the most highly regulated. There are certain rules in Canada, Latin America, Africa, Middle East and even in the European Union there are about 15 or 20 different regulatory bodies that all have different rules and tweaks, and things that they require.

[1:46] Our review and approval system is almost like one global system that manages a hundred different newspapers with different languages. We have that complexity as well. On top of that, what we are trying to really get our hands around with the rapid pace that we have with acquisitions with companies that we’re either merging with, or smaller pharmaceutical companies that we recently purchased.

[2:10] We’re trying to get our hands around, not only their review and approval system but also their asset management. The pure thing when you think of DAM, normally images, videos, sound files, all of that stuff of course it’s different everywhere.

[2:24] It’s something that we’re even internally at Pfizer trying to get our hands around. With all of this electronic content that we’ve created, with these huge transitions you’re going all digital from a cost perspective and efficiency, and even in efficacy perspective with our advertising.

[2:40] We’re trying to really get our hands around and control all of that intellectual property. We use it at its core for review and approval. The larger picture is figuring out how to get our hands around these assets so we can drive more towards a custom, maybe not necessarily custom, but omni channel marketing and more targeted marketing flexibility with our assets.

Henrik:  [3:05] Bryan, what are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with Digital Asset Management?

Bryan:  [3:10] The biggest challenge for us is trying to convince folks at Pfizer, and even within all our pharmaceutical, the key to really have their hands on an intellectual property. A lot of pharma companies have outsourced the creation of that content. We have all kinds of things that we’ve purchased at agencies, and buried in their storage.

[3:32] The only thing we might see are the two or three photos that we might have used in a particular piece. The challenge is really a perception challenge. We don’t make money out of this digital content that we create.

[3:44] It helps to drive sales, but we’re not Huffington Post. We’re not AOL. A lot of these companies that make content and then make money directly from that content, either through subscription or advertising on their website.

[3:58] Convincing internal executives, and convincing just people in general at Pfizer of the need to focus on access. I don’t necessarily want to say control, but access of understanding of those digital assets is a huge challenge.

[4:16] As you would imagine, they’re focused on producing medicine. They’re focused on producing pharmaceuticals or consumer medicines, and getting those things to market. They’re focused on marketing as a whole and as a platform. Not necessarily worried about the nitty-gritty of how we manage metadata within the Digital Asset Management system.

[4:35] It’s not as sexy to them, and it’s not a focus because they don’t make money directly out of it. However they’re also starting to struggle with understanding what everything is. In order to create all these apps, and websites, and advertisements. The increasingly frustrated, the marketing teams are, with understanding what they already have out there so they can get market quicker.

[4:57] That is our biggest challenge. Our biggest success, I would have to say, over the last few years, at least for us, is going to more of a global mindset with what we create and being able to share this content from region to region or country to country and then fine‑tuning it.

[5:12] That obviously saves cost, but more than anything it gives teams the ability to leverage the things have been created in other places and are effective in other places, and customize that for a local market.

[5:23] We can get to the market quicker if, say, a drug is approved in another country, which happens all the time. It might be approved in the United Sates. A month or two later, it’s approved in Brazil. We need to be able to deploy materials quickly. We can’t recreate all these materials, all the time.

[5:40] Our global platform is a huge success and a big step forward in being able to accomplish that.

Henrik:  [5:46] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?

Bryan:  [5:51] That’s a really good question. I have to say from a personal experience I never aspired to become a [laughs] Digital Asset Management professional. Really these two questions here are…one leads into another.

[6:05] In a sense that I got into this industry, maybe 20 years ago, totally by accident I started as a graphic designer, and then realized that I really didn’t have the talent [laughs] to be a very good graphic designer.

[6:20] I also realized it’s difficult to make a very good living as a graphic designer. More than anything I noticed that I was way more into the background, the functioning of the applications. I was in desktop publishing and I used to use PageMaker, Quark, and then InDesign.

[6:37] I found that I really like the technical aspect of it more than artistic side of it. Even if I was an art director for a little while at The Wall Street Journal, and even though I did that, I designed pages and special sections, I found that I was much better using an artistic eye than I was creating the art myself.

[6:58] That really transferred into Digital Asset Management working on these large workflow systems and giving a little bit more into how these systems actually connect and make things happen.

[7:11] Becoming at Digital Asset Management professional, I would say that my biggest advice would be to get some experience in how these systems are used. It’s difficult to step right into a Digital Asset Management project and have expertise, because the large ones may only happen a few times right in your professional career.

[7:30] Rather may be better to gain some experience as a user. What we say is on the business side and not focus as much on the technical side. If you do that, then you get a much better understanding of your users and you’re able to transition that into the setup, the configuration, and get an understanding of really what the workflow needs.

[7:50] If you do that, it comes across in your language as you’re addressing your user community and addressing their concerns when you’re trying to roll out these big systems. You tend to give an increased buy‑in when that happens.

[8:03] The final thing that I would really say was first people aspiring to become a Digital Asset Management professional is that as I look back, I see that everything drove to really me being in this profession, but when I was making those decisions to go from role to role, it was never with a…I want to be a Digital Asset Management person and professional as the end game.

[8:29] Rather it was, accepting challenges along the career path that brought into my experience. That’s probably the best advice that I can give. It’s to not turn down opportunities on projects or even new jobs just because they don’t fit tightly within a little box.

[8:47] Use your experience, and then grow.

Henrik:  [8:48] Great advice. Thanks, Bryan.

Bryan:  [8:50] Anytime. I love talking about Digital Asset Management. I’d say this is really a piece of technology that people don’t realize how much it has to do with what they see on their phones, or televisions, or anything, and as we become so digital in our daily lives, be able to manage digital assets and manage that data, and really respond to marketing needs and trends.

[9:15] It’s more critical now than it was 20 years ago when we were pre‑TV, radio, and that was about it. The flexibility that the web has given us…has made our profession just as important as a software engineer or anyone of those program creators, because we have the ability to really the entire horizon when it comes to these things that we’re driving out to our customers.

Henrik:  [9:39] For more on this and other Digital Asset Management topics, go to For this and 170 other podcast episodes, go to If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email

[9:56] Thanks again.

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Another DAM Podcast interview with Rob Schuman 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 Rob Schuman.
Rob, how are you?

Rob Schuman: [0:10] Great.

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

Rob: [0:14] Well, I got involved about 12 years ago, which was early for Digital Asset Management. Right now, I’m a general consultant. I help people organize, choose vendors, and help them implement the big change management that comes along with any DAM system. Also, advise people on technical issues of how to set up a DAM system that works well for everyone.

[0:39] Back when I was at Sesame Workshop, which was then called Children’s Television Workshop, the Sesame Street producers asked me if there was any way they could view their library without having to go up to the library and pull cassettes and cue up cassettes and all of that. The executive producers had a problem that they were reusing the same clips over and over and over again because those were the ones that people knew in their heads, while clips that were just as good were sitting in the library idle because no one wanted to take the time to go and find them.

[1:13] We said we’d do what we could, and about a year later, we developed one of the first DAM systems for video and television. It was very early in the DAM marketplace, and we believed it was the first or one of the first video Digital Asset Management systems. It was completely homegrown. We had any number of metadata fields and attached them to both proxy video and broadcast-quality video.

[1:41] We also were one of the first to include DAM as part of their workflow. It made producing the show so much easier, got them to do segments, have the segments approved by the producer, then get them right down into the edit room to complete them. I worked for Merck, the drug manufacturing company, and right now, I’m at the New York City Ballet. I call myself “content agnostic” because ultimately every company has their content professionals.

[2:11] They don’t need me to produce content for them. They need me to organize that content and make sure everybody has access to it and make sure that their workflows are automated. They don’t really need another person on content. Really, assets are assets, whether they’re talking about drugs, dance, or Sesame Street. I laugh that I worked for Sesame Street and Dow Jones, and the work is basically the same.

Henrik: [2:45] Organizing information?

Rob: [2:46] Yup, and making sure they can find it.

Henrik: [2:49] Yeah, very key. How does an organization focused on ballet use Digital Asset Management?

Rob: [2:56] Unlike music where there’s a score, dance is really a visual medium. Back in the mid 1980s, somebody had the idea of taking a VHS camcorder and sticking it up on the front of the balcony and taping the ballets. That stayed on VHS for a very long time, updated a little bit when camcorders became digital. They have a library of about 2, 500 or more performances.

[3:26] They have some rehearsals. It’s all on VHS tape. They got a grant from a government group called “Saving America’s Treasures” to try to rescue these. The New York City Ballet has this school so that the students could study choreographers like Balanchine or Jerome Robbins. What they’ve done is built their own Digital Asset Management in just stations.

[3:53] Right now, the theater has been redone with high-definition control room and high-definition cameras. All of the ballets or most of them are recorded as files, which we then add a whole lot of metadata to and put into their asset management system for anyone to find. You can look by choreographer by, of course, the date, and the musical piece.

[4:20] You can look at, “Let’s see all the variations of ‘The Nutcracker'” or “Let’s compare this choreographer’s version to that choreographer’s version.” They’re just starting to get to the launch of this. They want to put a computer and monitor in every dance studio that they’ve got. They have, I think, nine of them, including the ones from the school, so that they can work with the students and show them exactly how it’s done. Video is the only way to capture a live performance, and that’s what they do.

Henrik: [4:50] That’s great. Rob, what are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with Digital Asset Management?

Rob: [4:57] The biggest challenge is the one that almost everybody faces. People think it’s choosing a DAM system or the technology you use or the metadata schema that you use, but really, it’s making sure that your customers are happy that there’s an acceptance of workflow changes. I’ve worked at places with both.

[5:18] At Sesame Street, we never really launched the DAM system, because by the time it came for the date to launch it, everybody had it. People saw it in beta and said, “I need this. I don’t care that it’s not ready. I don’t care, I’ll report bugs, but I want to use this.” That was a big success.

[5:37] At a big company like Merck, management came down and said, “We’re going to use this Digital Asset Management system,” and there was so much resistance. People were just tossing assets in there. There was a lot of metadata management that had to go followed up and a lot of wasted time, effort and energy that if you start with getting the folks enthusiastic, and if you get as close to their current workflows as possible and come in with the attitude that this is not something that management is demanding.

[6:12] This is something that will make your work easier and make you more productive. One example of that, again going back to Sesame Street, one day a woman came into my office in tears because she realized that the DAM system would be down over the weekend for some maintenance. She needed to get something done by Monday or her boss was going to be very angry with her, and she was just so afraid of that.

[6:39] I told her I would talk to her boss and smooth things out, but we still needed to maintain the system. But later, it occurred to me that that’s exactly how a successful DAM should be working. You should be upset if you can’t use it or if the system goes down, because it’s so critical to your work.

[6:58] Some more successfully than others tried to get across that being enthusiastic about the DAM and getting people on your side early in the game is the most important thing. The usual challenge, which is getting people on board and making sure that everything works, technology is changing so rapidly. One of the biggest challenges in DAM right now is the user interfaces.

[7:28] A lot of the systems that I’ve seen are really great on the back end, but forget that there are people on the front end who really need to be coaxed along, just throwing up a series of fields for them to fill in this form. It doesn’t help unless there’s a counteraction of, well, instead of having to write this on paper, or I can find stuff later if I put metadata on it now. Of course, there’s always the ‘metadata policeman’ who has to go in and look at everything going into the system.

Henrik: [8:01] We’re all familiar with those [laughs] , since we do those tasks regularly or we have in the past.

Rob: [8:08] One thing I did at Merck was I put a sign on my cubicle there that said, I thought “DAM” was too violent a word, even though we all like using it. I said this was “Marketing Operations Management,” and I thought “MOM”. Let’s call it the “MOM” system.

Henrik: [8:28] Rob, what advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?

Rob: [8:33] Basically, the only real advice I can give is to go for it. It’s a young and growing area of computer and personal information and marketing information. I’d say study what you can. Ask questions. Learn about metadata. Learn from others. Go to the DAM meet-up to meet people and find out what they’re doing. Then, if you can, get the exposure to a DAM system.

[9:04] You don’t really need to go back to school for a full library degree to understand basic metadata. There’s a need for entry-level people to actually be the ‘metadata policemen’ and enter things into the DAM system. Generally, the person who is in charge of it doesn’t really have the time, particularly for the large systems, to go over what’s going in, to be the ‘metadata police’, so to speak, and make sure that the DAM system is loaded with all of the proper information.

[9:35] I used to advise television people, “Just go and get the exposure to it and show that you’re interested. Volunteer to do some stuff. Sure enough, when they need somebody, they’re going to turn to you, or somebody else is going to need somebody, they’re going to turn to you and get you started at a career.”

Henrik: [9:54] Well, thanks Rob.

Rob: [9:55] Rob: You’re welcome.

Henrik: [9:56] For more on this and other Digital Asset Management topics, go to Another DAM is available on AudioBoom and iTunes.

If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email me at Thanks again.