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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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What does a Digital Asset Manager need to know?

Based on the blog post from Another DAM blog,


Written and read by Henrik de Gyor

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What are the levels of DAM experience?

Based on the blog post from Another DAM blog:

Written and read by Henrik de Gyor

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Another DAM Podcast interview with Ulla de Stricker on Digital Asset Management


Here are the questions asked:

  • How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
  • You recently co-authored a book titled “The Information and Knowledge Professional’s Career Handbook” along with co-author Jill Hurst-Wahl. I believe Digital Asset Management could be categorized under the umbrella of Information Management. What inspired you to write this book?
  • What is so different about careers in the field of Information and Knowledge Professionals than any other?
  • Is this book just for beginners entering this career path?
  • 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 (DAM). I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with Ulla de
Stricker. Ulla, how are you?
Ulla de Stricker: [0:11] Fine. Thank you very much.
Henrik: [0:13] Ulla, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
Ulla: [0:16] As a consultant I’m involved in everything my clients care about
when it comes to information and knowledge management broadly defined.
Information objects of all kinds, including DAMs of course, are an element in any
organization strategy for support to knowledge workers, and I strive to point my
clients to the options available and to advise them about the ramifications of
those options.
Henrik: [0:40] You recently coauthored a book titled “The Information and
Knowledge Professional’s Career Handbook” along with coauthor Jill Hurst-
Wahl, which I interviewed in the past. I believe Digital Asset Management could
be categorized under the umbrella of information management. What inspired
you to write this book?
Ulla: [0:58] Jill and I are what you might call “natural mentors.” We’ve always
ended up in situations where we discuss career matters with our colleagues and
our students in particular. So without being able to pinpoint the exact moment,
we did get to a point where we arrived at this collective insight, “Why don’t we
just write it all down?” So we set about distilling our answers to the many questions
we’ve heard over the years. [1:26] Our intention was to capture general
advice in one place so that potentially our individual conversations with readers
could be more personal and focused. But primarily, however, we wanted to give
our colleagues and particularly new entrants to the profession a heads up about
all the things you need to think about in your career but never had a chance to
focus on in graduate school.
[1:53] Speaking for myself, I certainly discovered that technical skills are only one
part of the tool kit we need. I learned the hard way about organizational politics,
about being the boss, about interpersonal dynamics, and so on and so on. So
you might say the book actually addresses practitioners in a lot of professions.
We felt comfortable though speaking to colleagues in those fields where we
have personally built our reputations.
[2:21] We’d love to see the book become a graduation gift and a bible for
younger colleagues. That way our suggestions can travel a lot further afield than
through personal interactions in meetings and workshops.
Henrik: [2:35] Excellent. So what is so different about careers in the field of
information management professionals than any other?
Ulla: [2:45] I’m so glad you asked it. First, I want to stress how exciting it is to
see all the many new opportunities out there for graduates of iSchools. I think
we’re still only scratching the surface, and there’s a lot of outreach still to do to
orient managers about how the skills of iSchool graduates apply across a vast
spectrum of organizational functions. [3:08] But I always encourage those looking
for a career to check out the information profession. You and I, Henrik, know
it isn’t true, contrary to widespread opinion, that the Internet has reduced the
need for professionals who know their way around information management.
That said, I need to be honest about what I call the opacity of our profession.
[3:31] You can’t imagine the number of times I’ve heard my colleagues comment
on the surprising amount of explaining they found themselves having to do.
Sometimes we commiserate among ourselves that perhaps we ought to have
considered pharmacy or some other field where clients understand immediately
what we do without any further explanation.
[3:51] As an illustration, nobody with a sick pet is in any doubt about the need
for or value of a veterinarian, and no one with a leaky roof questions the need
for and value of a roofer. Yes, police officers, transport truck drivers, the road
repair crews, etc, etc, do not have to explain why they should exist. But we information
professionals do.
[4:19] A major factor is the conundrum I’ll never solve that we deal largely in
intangibles. We can’t prove that we are adding dollars to the bottom line or that
we’re saving lives. So our costs could look like reasonable candidates for cuts
when managers are under pressure to slash their budgets. We can convince
those managers it’s prudent to equip knowledge workers with authoritative information,
and it’s prudent to safeguard corporate memory and so on.
[4:50] But we cannot get away from the fact that information services are, by
their nature, labor intensive and expensive. Before the first customer can find an
answer to a question or find an information object, there’s content to pay for,
staff to pay for, IT infrastructure to put in place, and so on. It’s understandable
to me when a senior executive asks bluntly, “What am I getting for that six or
seven-figure line item called the Corporate Information Center?”
[5:21] I’m sure your DAM colleagues recognize the challenge. The bottom line for
this nurse is that in our professions practitioners must always be ready to justify
their worth. It’s for that reason that one of the chapters in the book deals with
crafting business cases.
Henrik: [5:39] So, is this book just for beginners entering this career path?
Ulla: [5:43] Certainly, Jill and I did intend the book for graduate students and
recent graduates, but we speak equally to mid-career professionals who may be
asking themselves, “What’s next?” We advocate an attitude of personal control.
Oh, yes. It’s true. A new graduate may take that first job because the bills have
to be paid. But throughout our working lives every one of us are making choices
and plans for the future. [6:10] So that’s why we emphasize in one chapter the
need for every single professional to ascertain what’s a group cultural fit and
then to orchestrate choices and activities toward that fit. By “fit,” I mean that,
as one example, some of us are naturally happy in environments where others
might not be so happy. Just consider the difference between hospitals, law
firms, schools, nonprofits, and private sector companies in terms of how it feels
to work there.
[6:40] As another example. We’re all unique in terms of the degree of structure
and control we like to have at work, the pace we’re comfortable with, whether
we like to deal with people, or whether we prefer to work independently, and
so on. So, other chapters deal with universal topics, such as developing a
professional brand, getting paid what we’re worth, coping with stress, mentoring
others. So indeed the book is meant for our colleagues at any stage of
their careers.
Henrik: [7:12] What advice would you like to share with DAM professional and
people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Ulla: [7:17] Let me stress again the positive news that in the future, information
professionals including the DAMs will be evermore necessary to managing the
explosions of digital content. The opportunities keep growing, and I’ll just throw
in here, that in the last couple of weeks alone a major consulting firm in Toronto
announced several new knowledge management decisions. [7:43] One little
challenge does exist. It’s that in the past, we may not have focused sufficiently
on marketing our skills, so we do have some competition from IT professionals
as an example. So my advice focuses on marketing. My advice is that a successful
career depends on developing a solid conviction about our own value and
on perfecting the delivery of the explanation of it.
[8:09] I say become a walking business case. Get good at linking your activity
to corporate outcomes. Estimate, for example, how much time you save other
employees through your work, and then calculate the value to the organization
from freeing up that time. Never mind about risk reduction and other intangible
benefits. Speak about how you contribute to the overall performance of the
organization you work for and use the language stakeholders understand.
[8:39] In other words become a career long advocate for good information practices.
Does that make sense, Henrik?
Henrik: [8:46] Definitely. Well, thanks Ulla. Thanks to also your publisher,
Chandos, who is giving us a complimentary copy. For the first time on this
podcast series we’re able to give away a copy of the book. The book is again
The Information and Knowledge Professionals Career Handbook” by Jill Hurst-
Wahl and Ulla de Stricker. [9:08] The contest between the date of the release of
this podcast through the month of August 2011, if you subscribed to Another
DAM Blog, that’s and, you
will be entered in the contest immediately. If you are drawn at the end of the
month, the winner from that will get a free copy of the new book. Thank you so
much, Ulla.
Ulla: [9:36] Well, thank you. It is indeed generous of the publisher to work with
us in this way, and I can’t wait to virtually shake the hand of the winner.
Henrik: [9:45] If you would like more information about Digital Asset
Management, log onto Another DAM Podcast is
available on Audioboom, Blubrry, iTunes, and the Tech Podcast Network.
Thanks again.

Announcing the first book drawing for this podcast series…

The one winner of this drawing will receive one free copy of “The Information and Knowledge Professional’s Career Handbook” co-authored by Jill Hurst-Wahl and Ulla de Stricker. To enter the book drawing, simply subscribe to both Another DAM podcast and Another DAM blog by email on each of these websites between August 4, 2011 and August 31, 2011. The winner will be picked from the pool of email subscribers of both Another DAM podcast and Another DAM blog together. The drawing will occur on the first week of September 2011 with a third party drawing the name of the winner. The winner will be announced on Another DAM podcast and Another DAM blog. If you are already an email subscribers to both Another DAM podcast and Another DAM blog, you are automatically entered in this book drawing. The winner will be contacted directly by email for their contact details to ship the book. The book will be shipped directly from the publisher. Good luck to all.

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Where can I find some DAM jobs?

Based on the blog post from Another DAM Blog:

Written and read by Henrik de Gyor