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Another DAM Podcast interview with Erin McElrath on Digital Asset Management

Listen to Erin McEIrath discuss Digital Asset Management

Transcript:

Henrik de Gyor:  This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with Erin McEIrath. Erin, how are you?

Erin McElrath:  I’m just fine. How are you?

Henrik de Gyor:  Great. Erin, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?

Erin McElrath:  I am the Creative Tools Manager at an e-commerce company called Brandless and I manage all of the digital asset management and content that comes in and out of the company, whether it be on the site or on our printed collateral or on our social media.

Henrik de Gyor:  How does an e-commerce company that puts people first use Digital Asset Management?

Erin McElrath:  We use it just like any other company would. We do a lot of creative assets internally for marketing purposes. We also use it to store all of our product information, all of our packaging. Anything. Any image that has shown up on our site, we like to house on our DAM, but most recently, we’re starting to use a lot of user-generated content (UGC) from social media. So we’re scraping all social media sites and the images that we like and we would like to use further, ideally, we would like to put that in the DAM, in the, in the next coming months. In addition to the digital asset management, I also do all the post-production workflow. So I’m working with all of our outside agencies as the content is funneled in through the company and then approved and funneled back out.

Henrik de Gyor:  What are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with Digital Asset Management?

Erin McElrath:  Well, I think the biggest challenge, and I think anybody has been in the industry for awhile can agree that the biggest challenges assessing the need of the company for our positions. We do a job that we’re basically when we’re doing our job, no news is good news and everything is sailing right along and very efficient, but to bring other people on as help and as teammates because this is a very hard job to do by yourself. To show the need and the value of the position can be challenging. When the company would rather spend their money on new creatives or engineering team on new platforms to show that the DAM is actually the brain and the hub of the organization.  When that is running smoothly, everybody can do their jobs. It takes a lot to show that value for successes. I guess on that same note when everything is running smoothly, that is my biggest success. Right now at Brandless, I have implemented three workflows using our current DAM where content has flowed in and out through a system with permissions and approvals. Everybody seems to be really happy with it and everything is working. So I think that to me is the pillar of my big success in any job that I have is making sure that the DAM that the company purchases is used to its full capabilities.

Henrik de Gyor:  Would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?

Erin McElrath:  I think the biggest one is don’t be afraid to assert yourself. We’re often seen as the people in the corner doing manual data entry work. That’s how we’re viewed by certain members of a team or a company, but we’re really not. We do so many things and most of the time nobody knows what we do. Digital Asset Manager is such a broad term that it could mean anything, so define the role that you want within your organization and what will be most appropriate and try to align yourselves with them, with the people in your company that you know you can help them most. Oftentimes, they don’t know what you do. Go up to them and asked them their pain points and see how you can help.

Another big one, most recently I kind of spoke about it earlier… Learn all you can about user-generated content, which is often called in the industry UGC. This is really big now. A lot of Digital Asset Managers don’t like to put that in the DAM because there’s so much. The liability is very unclear. It changes all the time and oftentimes when we have assets, we have contracts and releases for those assets, but for UGC we do not. Oftentimes, we just have a screenshot that our producers said, “can we use this photo?” And the person said “yes,” and that’s it. I think in my opinion, times are changing and we’re starting to formalize that relationship. Now Brandless, for example, is using a lot of UGC content and our marketing and our social media. We like to have and I like to have those in the DAM so I can track where they’ve been used and who is responsible for that connection. If something goes wrong with that initial user that uploaded that content, we can take it down immediately. I know where it lives on everything, so yeah, just familiarize yourself like technology is changing and we’re right at the forefront of that, so just be on the ball.

Henrik de Gyor:  Well thanks, Erin.

Erin McElrath:  Thank you very much.

Henrik de Gyor:  For more on this, visit anotherdampodcast.com. You have any comments or questions, please feel free to email me at anotherdamblog@gmail.com. Thanks again.

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Another DAM Podcast interview with Mark Leslie on Digital Asset Management

Transcript:

Henrik de Gyor: This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor.

Today, I’m speaking with Mark Leslie.

Mark, how are you?

Mark Leslie: I’m wonderful. How about yourself, how are you doing today?

Henrik de Gyor: Great. Mark, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?

Mark Leslie: I’ve been in the graphic design space for just a little bit over 20 years now. And I go all the way back to when working even in a small design shop or an ad agency, how you would complete a project and things would get archived of onto a floppy or a zip disk, and you wanted to be able to locate those things after the fact. So building some kind of an index or having some kind of a cataloging program where at least you could find things that were offline was very important. Just as things have progressed in my career, and I’ve worked in larger volume environments, that DAM has become more and more important. That’s what DAM is all about right?

Find what you’re looking for, find the exact file at the right time, and the longer we go and the more digital anything that we have, the more important it is to be able to put your finger directly on something. Another thing that I’ve done in the last couple of years with DAM is being more involved in the community itself where I’ve been a speaker, a presenter a couple of times for Henry Stewart. DAM is an excellent opportunity, especially for companies that are looking at a challenge that they are not sure how to solve, it’s a great place to start. And I’ve also spoken and done a case study presentation at Adobe Summit this past spring. Just writing articles, and blog posts and spending a lot of time thinking about what this space can do, where we are right now, and what’s coming next.

Henrik de Gyor: Mark, how does one of the largest sportswear manufacturers use Digital Asset Management?

Mark Leslie: Well basically our company was responsible for apparel and headwear. A lot of it was for what we call licensed properties or a professional sport. So it’s things worn by the fans to celebrate their teams. And even at times, authentic apparel worn on the field. The way our DAM was used is basically as a collaboration platform throughout our product creation process, end to end. It basically sorts out into two large buckets. On one side you have the kind of technical specification documents that drive our manufacturing processes, and on the other side you have product photography. So all these things that get provided to retail partners and business to business that allow demand creation, and we literally would see it on a retailer’s website or in a print ad.

So we’re basically looking at that in a way, kind of almost like a closed circuit TV. It’s not necessarily driving any kind of public visibility, it does downstream of us, but we’re providing all that content and generating all that content so that it can be used to drive a couple of processes. I’ll tell you one of the things about DAM that we picked up early on in my time with the company that was actually a great side effect of DAM. For one professional sports league, we were putting together presentation boards that would serve a couple of purposes. One would be to take any given style and show for that product season what it would look like in all teams, and then we would have another type of presentation that would say, “For this team,” these are all the styles that are offered in the season and how they would all look together as a collection.

And we were new to our DAM implementation at that time, this was many years ago. There was something about that process, which by the way was entirely manual. So we were taking images from DAM and placing them into a document, and doing this by hand, things would be stable, and it would be great, and you’d come back maybe a week or two later and something about the way those images were being placed that it just wasn’t being honored. So we ended up having to recreate those documents several times during that season. It didn’t affect our ability to deliver. We still hit all of our deadlines, but in the back of my mind I kept thinking, “There’s got to be a better way.” So as a result coming out of that, we did internal development for automation tools and client-side automation that was able to eventually assist creation of all of those technical documents that go out to the factories. It was able to populate pages and catalogs that we used for our sales and marketing materials, and all those things are very, very embedded in the environment.

It’s something that when you’re working at scale, you worry about how long something takes, even if it’s just a short amount of time, you’re doing it a lot of times. And when you do something a lot, is there a way to not have to do it manually? And that was a great learning coming out of having a very powerful DAM at our disposal. I’ll give you an example of some of things that we in addition to the product photography and the technical specification documents that we save in the DAM, we also, because we’re dealing with professional sports leagues and teams, we have a lot of partner identity or logo information that’s stored in there as well. That’s used by all of the design and production teams to go through, pull out what they need as a raw material or a source image to start a design or to complete work on a design.

So there’s a lot of that information stored in there as well. And to put some numbers around things, if you think just in terms of the product photography, every week there’s something between 2500 and 4500 new product photos generated that all come into the DAM, need to have the proper meta-data associated with them, they need to be reviewed and approved and be pushed off to where they can be published and available to our downstream audience, to our retail partners. So a lot of files moving through that system. And if it wasn’t for DAM I just don’t know at that volume how we would be able to accomplish what we do.

Henrik de Gyor: What are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with Digital Asset Management?

Mark Leslie: I think one of the biggest challenges is looking at DAM … let’s say that you’ve got an established platform and you know what your capabilities are, there will come the time where your challenged with … the DAM will enable us to do, say fill in the blank, this example. And what that may require is some kind of sweeping change in the way that the business process is conducted or at least just the way that steps the order that work is done. Sometimes it can eliminate steps, it can eliminate several steps in a process. You might actually even be able to automate a large chunk of the work. But it’s being able to raise that awareness and to get the business to commit to the significant change that might have to happen in order to get that payback on the other side.

And just that human element of being able to walk everybody through that landscape and help them to understand. Another thing that’s a challenge is being able to look at the type of assets that are generated throughout a full life cycle of something. Let me step back and talk about full lifecycle. There is an originally an idea for something that’s going to be eventually created as an asset. Someone somewhere says, “You know what I need? I need a visual that is,” again fill in the blank. Somebody writes a creative brief, there is a marketing plan, whatever it is, something creates the need for an asset. Assets just don’t show up on their own. Somebody asked for it, there was a need, there was an ask.

So from the moment that that work begins on that asset, it’s life cycle has started. And all the way out the point where it gets used for the last time, those are the two goal posts. And in between that is the full life cycle of the asset. The temptation can be a lot of times for a business process to combine several things together into a document and you end up with maybe the need later to try to extract things back out of that document because you need just this piece or just this element. And you can actually stop that from being a problem if you go back and say, “What are the kind of things that typically we might extract now, and is there a way to save that as a component or an element so that I could just pull that up on-demand?” And even better, it’s not me pulling it up on-demand, it’s an automated process pulling that up on demand and providing it for whatever the appropriate situation is. As far as a success with DAM.

There was a period here a couple years back where we had been in a previous DAM platform for many years. The need had come to modernize. So we went through the process of evaluating what was available in the market, vendor selection and all of that stuff. But knowing that we were such a high volume art operation, we basically had to … it’s kind of like doing engine work on a helicopter while it’s flying. We had to continue being able to fly, we had to continue to deliver product. We could not stop, land and wait. And we went through that process even though we had a very tight timeline, we were able to extract an export what we needed from the old system to configure the new system, bring the assets in and get up and running with very little disruption in the business. And I would consider that to be a very large success.

Henrik de Gyor: And what advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?

Mark Leslie: I think the biggest thing about wanting to get into this space, and it may not just apply to DAM but it certainly applies directly to DAM, is that you want to be curious. Your curiosity and wanting to know how things work, and wanting to know why things are a certain way, and then asking more questions after that will take you a long way. Because, one of the temptations especially when you’re dealing with technology or a software platform, is to look at features, or to say, “Oh that, shiny.” And you want to be able to take advantage of what you see, “Oh, imagine what we could do with that tool” That’s actually the 180 degrees from where you need to be. First of all, you really need to understand your business. You need to understand where those assets come from, how they get brought into being, what’s being done to them throughout their life cycle, and who the audience is downstream, who needs access, who shouldn’t have access? And if you understand the business, the next step is to say, “Now what’s the problem that we’re trying to solve?”

And if you really understand the business, you ask a lot of questions because you’re curious, and you’ve looked at the key problems that you want to be able to solve, and what it’s going to look like when they are solved, then kind of figure out what technology solutions fit into that to make that happen is easy. If you go about it the other way it’s going to be very hard and it’s probably not going to work very well. So if you’re a curious person, and you ask a lot of questions and you use the discoveries from those questions to drive you to new discoveries, you’re already set up.

Henrik de Gyor: Well thanks, Mark.

Mark Leslie: Thank you.

Henrik de Gyor: For more on this, visit anotherdampodcast.com. If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at anotherdamblog@gmail.com. Thanks again.


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NYC DAM Meetup on Digital Asset Management and Collaboration with IT

On September 27, NYC DAM Meetup organized a panel discussion on Digital Asset Management and Collaboration with IT with the following panelists:

  • Terrance Knight – Technician III at CDS
  • Rob Tarleton – Chief Technology Officer at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
  • Roy Walter – Consultant, Digital Media Solutions
  • Jen McGrath – Senior Director Creative Operations
  • Raj Kumar – Enterprise Architect

In case you missed this NYC DAM Meetup or want to review this discussion again, below is the unedited audio recording of this panel discussion (Duration: 92 minutes)