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Another DAM Podcast interview with Keith Bloomfield-DeWeese on Digital Asset Management and Ontology


Henrik de Gyor: [00:00] This is Another DAM Podcast of Digital Asset Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with Keith Bloomfield-DeWeese. Keith, how are you?
Keith Bloomfield-DeWeese: Very well Henrik, how are you?
Henrik: Keith, how are you involved with digital asset management?

Keith: I’m involved with digital asset management a couple of different ways. I don’t think quite like a traditional DAM person. I don’t work in a DAM system, let’s put it that way. I do work with digital assets, of course, photos, content of all sorts, but I am not managing licenses or anything like that. I actually am more at the end of, or along the processing line of digital assets or an asset, where trying to describe what the asset is about, how it should be used, what systems it should be used in and things that are, again, a little more outside of the, I think, the traditional DAM environment or DAM world.

[01:00] I work with content management systems very much. It’s interesting, because I’ve been thinking this through in so many different ways and from so many different angles, because I work in maintaining, developing, maintaining controlled vocabularies, relationships that link terminology between classes and so on and at a certain point, I think, whenever you do this for any number of organizations, you look at it and you say, “Okay, we’ve done all this work, what do we do with it now? How do we monetize it in a certain way and how do we start, perhaps, thinking of it more as a digital asset, with a right-to-use component?” For the most part, the work I do kind of skirts around that, but at the same time, there is this, beyond the right-to-use, there is this management aspect where we’re trying to join different types of assets together.

[02:00] We’re trying to make connections between a photo and text, a sound recording and text, and the management is there, it’s just in a different way, and again, not quite so traditional. I think, going back now for, I was thinking recently, it’s been almost 20 years, that I’ve been working for media companies of various kinds. You increasingly see the lines blurring between certain, the idea of content management and digital asset management and it seems like the more there’s a blurring or there’s just a lot of overlaps. I’m kind of, I guess I’m apologizing a little bit for not being more of a DAM person, or talking about DAM. I hope that’s all right.
Henrik: No apologies necessary.
Keith:  I think a lot of this, I think that’s common these days and many people are in that kind of space, work in that kind of space and of course I have to be aware of the different restrictions that might be placed on an asset.

[03:00]  One thing that I know I have run afoul of at times is okaying, and this is not anything recently, I’m thinking quite while ago, maybe when I was a novice more in the space, of using an asset, integrating it, associating it with another type of asset, a content item, primarily, when I shouldn’t have. When I didn’t, you know, heed what the attributes and the attribute values were telling me about how something could be used. I’ve become much more savvy in that respect and much more knowledgeable in basically how you have to be aware as you work with a variety of assets and especially in media things change so much that you sometimes just have to allow yourself to fall and that’s kind of my take on working with digital assets.
Henrik: [04:00] How do you maintain the ontology for a national media company?
Keith: Well, I think it’s a daunting task in some ways and sometimes I think I’m one of those fools who stumbled in where the angels fear to tread, so to speak, because it’s certainly no a one person task, of course. There’s so many people involved. There are so many systems involved. Maintaining so much depends on data formats being correct. I think this is where we start getting into more of the kind of semantic side of this or the linked data side of this because when you’re dealing with, say, well I’ve worked for an encyclopedia, I’ve worked for newspapers, you’re really just dealing with such a vast, so many domains of knowledge, that you’re both trying to development vocabularies to describe domains plus the relationships between them in such a way that they make sense to both the machine and increasingly the machine and human beings.

[05:00] Of course, those are a great deal of reliance on various tools. I’ve worked with, I think, everything from Protégé to there are different tools. I don’t want to sound like I’m endorsing anything but, you know SAS Teragrams tool, things like Synaptic and Expert System. You know of course you have to have that kind of support that these sophisticated tools provide and I think maintaining and actually developing them further is the real trick. It’s how do you keep incorporating other vocabularies? How do you harmonize vocabularies and not the unexpected results, because of course we’re trying to do so much of this to have a positive impact on everything from search to putting out new products, driving products, and again, I think it’s just a very, it’s daunting.

[06:00] I would also say too, that one thing has easier over time is the tools have become more sophisticated in the last ten years. I think it’s incredible what we can do know as opposed to when we used to have to maintain values in spreadsheets. That was just, you can only go so far with that. Today though it does, it takes a village to raise an ontology, let’s put it that way. I tend to think too that, where I sit, I do a lot of work developing, and again, the relationships that make terms, link terms, and those relationships, of course, now we can get them from different standards. We’re very fortunate on that respect. We’re very fortunate.
[07:00] When I say standards I mean that we have OWL or just and so on to work with, where as, ten years ago, these things, were around of course, but they weren’t, I think, as approachable in some respects, or I certainly found them a little more difficult to wrap my mind around at that time and I think now we have it, so many of these standards built right into these systems that we license and so on, that it makes it easier. But, to maintain an ontology for a national media company, it’s always trying to find, I think, that right balance between what machines can do and then where the human beings have to step in and clarify and disambiguate and so on. Again for news organizations, for an encyclopedia, for, well just any of these larger media companies, you’re dealing with, not just financial data or data about medicine.

[08:00] It’s not farm. Dealing with all the means of knowledge from health to sports to politics to entertainment and actually, I was thinking, I’ve worked on vocabularies that have a number of, you know like very simple ones, 20,000 terms, up to 160,000 terms and when you start thinking of all the relationships that link those terms together you suddenly feel like a very small person and you have to, I always say I always have to keep in mind that I can only do so much and we can only take things so far with this technology and we’re still trying to improve the technology too.

[09:00] One of the questions, later, that you asked was about what advice do you give to people and I’ll go back to that later some more, but one thing I’m thinking of here is that when you do maintain an ontology for a large media company you really need to be prepared to experiment and not be afraid to try different approaches and to realize that the technology, the guidelines, are there but there’s always that fine tuning that has to be done because you can also find yourself in a situation where you’re dealing with all this great technology but you’re still using legacy systems that aren’t quite up to snuff or compatible. I think trying to find that right balance is part of the maintenance of the ontology.
Henrik: Keith, what are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with digital asset management and ontology?
Keith: [10:00] Well they say the challenges can range from just trying to get the buy in to follow a different direction, to getting the adaptation of the technologies, I mean that by, or adoption, the adoption of the technologies by a variety of people that interact with them and I’m thinking very much of database developers, developers of all sort, database administrators, developers, UX people, just a whole gamut, individuals who would be involved in managing the assets, developing the ontology to help manage them and I think there you do have to work a lot of times on people skills and trying to help people see the advantage of changing, going from working in relational databases to this entirely different approach, incorporating RDF, resource description framework and into the whole management process.

[11:00] It’s not always easy to make that leap and I think probably one of the challenges, biggest challenges, is managing expectations, because you will have executives, you will have stake holders just, again, any number of people who, well they do not have the interactions with the systems, with these technologies but they have heard the great benefits that can be achieved. Sometimes you have to do a lot of worker challenges and just making sure people understand that you’re not going to come right out of the gate charging at 80 miles an hour. You’ve got to work incrementally, strategically. Now a success is, sometimes my successes can be very small. When I see an inference made, engine based off of some data, when I see an implementation.

[12:00] Some years ago I was working on a search project and the final result or search results that then could expand into graphs, visual graphs, and that was very exciting. That was one of those successes of the kind where it was not only something very helpful but it that aesthetic quality too that I think, so often much of what we do, it’s not just science, it’s a little bit of art and to me, success comes in, really realizing that I’m allowed to work on some of the world’s largest word games, in a way, and be part of that, but I would really say it’s challenging to get to those little successes or even the bigger ones.There’s so many hurdles and you can’t just expect that you’re going to be successful the first time.

[13:00] You got to have stick-to-it-iveness I’d say, really keep with it and again, keep bringing people on board and everyone’s at a a different place on the learning curve with all of this technology which has it’s own problems when you’re trying to do something different and you’re working in an experimental area. I even thinking, I haven’t quite made the transition to saying goodbye to the concept of semantic web or semantic technology and saying hello linked data. I’m more at the point of actually combining the two terms but I really would say like, just even getting to that understanding of how linked data works, how linked data can apply to, just that interoperability, those are successes and you have to be open to them and see them where they are and not expect fireworks at the end of the day.
Henrik: Keith, what advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?

Keith: [14:00] Well I think earlier I made the statement about being involved in way to just being open and being and experimenter, seeing yourself as a pioneer, but with DAM itself, like you’re really going to talk about the traditional, the digital asset management approach of course, it’s learn all you can about what’s available for managing rights issues and right-to-use issues and just anything to do with versioning and so on, that’s already available in data sets publicly. I think it takes a special kind of person. I don’t know if there’s a certain profession. A couple of years ago a friend published a book called The Accidental Taxonomist and I use that term now all the time, the accidental this, or the accidental that, but the accidental digital asset manager too because I think, especially in publishing, one way or the other you’re going to be involved in some kind of decision involving an asset and that decision can be a difficult one to make.

[15:00] It can be an easy one to make. So often I think, do you have the right set of tools, if you’re open to learning as much as you can. Just even simple things, like just get the basic syntax of RDF or some sparkle statements. You can really achieve a lot, I think. You can go into this feeling somewhat confident and you’re armed well. I would say just arm yourself, gird yourself as much as possible to always be working in an environment of change. It doesn’t mean you have to know everything. You don’t have to be expert in all these technologies. I think that’s a very special person but familiarity, many different data sets, many different technology, and by familiarity I mean just kind of a cursory familiarity.
[16:00] Then definitely find a niche, look for your niche, where you enjoy, what you enjoy doing. I’m very keen on just the linguistic aspects of what I do, then the automation that can be part of this. I really didn’t touch on that, the things like entity extraction and auto tagging, things like that, that can be applied in digital asset management, but that’s my niche and that’s where I feel comfortable. Certainly with all the assets that are being created there’s room for everyone I think, kind of wrap that up in a positive note. Just be open and positive.
Henrik: Great, well thanks Keith.
Keith: You’re welcome. Thank you Henrik.
Henrik: [17:00] For more on this visit If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email me at For this and 180 other podcast episodes, visit Thanks again.

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Another DAM Podcast interview with Kathryn Gronsbell 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 Katheryn Gronsbell. Kathryn, how are you?

Kathryn Gronsbell:  [0:10] Good, how are you?

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

Kathryn:  [0:14] I’m the Digital Asset Manager at Carnegie Hall. I’m responsible for integrating our enterprise Digital Asset Management system into activities that support Carnegie Hall’s retention and use of digital assets.

[0:26] My work ranges from overseeing quality control and managing ingest procedures to helping manage and implement and collaboratively built taxonomy, but also working with staff across all of our departments, to make sure that their needs are being met by the technology that we have, but also by the policies in place to guide that technology.

Henrik:  [0:45] How does one of the most prestigious venues in the world, for both classical music and popular music, use Digital Asset Management?

Kathryn:  [0:52] To back up a little bit, in 2015 our archives completed a multi‑year digitalization project of legacy materials; so  concert programs, flyers, choral workshop recordings, radio broadcasts. Needless to say, the materials in our archives are pretty incredible.

[1:10] Being surrounded by this kind of material has been great and with 125 years of history, there is a lot to see and to share with people. We’ve just moved out of the project phase and into the formalized DAM program, which often includes content that is being currently produced or is in the process of being produced.

[1:29] This more sustainable and integrated approach to Asset Management is taking the requirements identified by Carnegie staff and trying to make them a reality. We expect to roll out our DAM system this summer, and we’ve just wrapped up our initial user testing with select advanced users from target departments. But our continued user testing and configuration will try to make sure that staff see the DAMs as a centralized place to not only deposit and discover content but also engage with it so anything that was created by Carnegie Hall staff or for the Hall.

Henrik:  [2:04] What are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with Digital Asset Management?

Kathryn:  [2:08] The biggest challenge that I’ve seen so far is trying to have answers before you have questions. [laughs] Requirements gathering and understanding current workflows and pinpoints is really essential. It’s kind of saying, “How can I fix something, if you don’t even understand what’s broken, or not even broken, just could work better.”

[2:29] Part of the way that I tried to play down that challenge is looking at the content producers and asking, “What are they doing? What kind of questions are they asking?” That helps us to fill in the gap between providing a place to manage the version of what’s being produced, but also providing source content for those producers.

[2:47] On a positive note, the success for me has been the result of the mix of perspectives from staff members here. At Carnegie, I have a regular meeting with nearly every department, or at least every department that I can get my hands on.

[3:03] It’s a very close partnership with our IT department, who supports our DAMs initiative from a technical perspective, but also our interactive services, niche strategy, digital media, our education wing, which is called The Weill Music Institute, our PR department and our marketing creative services.

[3:22] As we get closer to staff launch I expect that list of departments to grow, maybe to the chagrin of my calendar and their calendar. Every conversation that I have with these staff members either reveals something new or reinforces a need that’s been expected from our DAM initiative. Without the input of all of these staff members, there would be no Digital Asset Management at Carnegie Hall.

Henrik:  [3:45] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people inspiring to become DAM professionals?

Kathryn:  [3:49] Definitely look to how either allied fields or established fields are handling some of the same questions that we’re facing computer science, libraries and archives, traditional and emerging practices for conservation and preservation, the museum and gallery world, of course, and also community or grass roots based practices and concepts.

[4:13] One thing which I think is less of a popular opinion, maybe among the archivists and library folks, is looking at the commercial sectors, so broadcast and media entertainment companies. Money follows money, so if we have a finger on the pulse of where a lot of investment is being made in technology or structures or infrastructure, we kind of have a good idea where things are going and I think it puts us in a better position to have those conversations.

[4:43] Again, it’s not really about having the same answers as these communities, but mining their answers for something that would work for us. The additional benefit of that is that the more questions and the more conversations that you have with these communities, the more visible that we become for them, so it opens up the door for more conversation and more communication, which also translates to more inclusion in their decision‑making process, hopefully.

[5:05] There is one last thing that I wish someone had said to me when I started out. For every person who this person is usually in a position of influence that tries to exclude you from a conversation, who tries to make you feel inferior or dumb for asking questions, there are 10 people who have your back and also want to know the answers to those questions.

[5:29] The more questions that we ask, the more voices in our community and the better of we will be. If we’re lucky enough to be a person that’s in a position of power, you have the responsibility to be as inclusive as possible and lead by example. I hope that’s helpful.

Henrik:  [5:44] It is. Thanks so much Kathryn.

Kathryn:  [5:46] Thank you.

Henrik:  [5:47] For more on this and other Digital Asset Management topics, go to For this and another 180 podcast episodes, visit 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 Kenneth Wilson 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 Kenneth Wilson. Kenneth, how are you?

Kenneth Wilson:  [0:10] I’m good today. How are you?

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

Kenneth:  [0:15] I orchestrate the operation of Kohler companies’ digital supply chain, the center of which is the company’s DAM system, and I’ve also recently taken ownership of the communications resource library. That’s how I’m involved in Digital Asset Management.

Henrik:  [0:33] How does an American manufacturing company use Digital Asset Management?

Kenneth:  [0:36] Kohler is a multinational manufacturing company. We have a very diversified group of businesses that are part of the Kohler company, that make up the company. Most people know very well in the plumbing, kitchen, and bath businesses.

[0:52] We also have a hospitality group that has The American Club, which is a five‑diamond hotel, that is in Kohler Wisconsin, along with many golf courses that make up Destination Kohler, along with golf courses in Kohler… Whistling Straits, Blackwolf Run… along with a golf course in Scotland, the Old Course hotel. That makes up the hospitality group.

[1:17] We also have an interior section headquartered out of Chicago, where we have furniture businesses… Baker, McGuire. A custom tile manufacturing company called Ann Sacks in Portland, along with… can’t forget our global power group, who has a number of companies they operate throughout the world.

[1:38] All those companies make up the Kohler businesses and we handle a lot of the communications for all of those different businesses. Right now, we use our DAM system to store a lot of the final marketing images, and the graphic layouts for most of our North American businesses.

[1:56] The global businesses also use the system to some extent. A lot of the products are US SKUs that are also sold in other places but some of our global businesses have SKUs that are specific to them. We’re actually trying to work to encourage them to supply our system with those unique‑to‑their‑location assets.

[2:21] The DAM system that I manage will house the packaging images, the web images that are used for the catalog, as well as the layouts for printed literature, catalogs, the sell sheets that go to our showrooms and also archives digital imagery that serves to document the history and happenings of the company. This documentary and archived footage is mainly captured digitally now.

[2:51] We’ve begun efforts to digitize years’ worth of the history that was not digital, both still and video, and that will all make its way into the system as well. At the digital supply chain, if we look at it as a whole, the front end of it we’ve got a lot of different content creators. We have our own photo studio.

[3:14] We’ve got photographers, who create content, and at the front end of that supply chain, you’re not trying to shape the standards for file formats and making sure things are consistent there. While we have our own staff photographers for the different businesses, globally, we’ll use a variety of photographers, so trying to make sure everything comes in in a consistent form.

[3:37] On the back end, assets from our DAM system are syndicated to a content delivery network (CDN), so that they can be published to our websites and to the web catalogs, and also manage that practice.

Henrik:  [3:52] Kenneth, what are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with DAM?

Kenneth:  [3:58] Personally, one of the biggest current pain points that I have comes around tracking renditions of assets that are headed for both digital and print destinations. It’s tricky to figure out what should be a version when changes are made, or what should really turn into a derivative asset. That’s probably one of the biggest pain points that I currently have.

[4:24] It’s really about educating the art directors on what it means when they version something versus what it means when they create a brand new asset. With all those businesses, we’ve got a lot of printed stuff that we still do, but there’s also a really big focus on digital, of course, using the web. A lot of our businesses are starting to do website redesigns, so that’ll continue to frustrate me this next year.

[4:53] That’s one of our biggest challenges right now. It’s trying to make sure that we don’t have a lot of duplicate content that varies so slightly that people couldn’t really do a search and be confident in the results they find within the DAM, and not really have to sort through, oh, this one’s slightly brighter, this one’s slightly darker.

[5:18] One of the biggest successes that I’ve seen in DAM lately is starting to overcome the notion of simply being a storage repository for the organizations that adopt it, more than a search tool to find things that already exist.

[5:34] One way we’re trying to get over that is the reuse of things we’ve already shot. An image that was shot for our hospitality businesses could be reused in marketing materials for the power businesses.

[5:50] So, that return on investment there. One of the bigger successes is DAM’s ability to shape workflows. One of my major initiatives this year is to implement a review on an approval workflow that we call creative review. In a digital form, it’s something that our creative groups already do, and it’s largely on paper. Trying to move that into a digital space is the big win.

[6:22] One of the major benefits we can get out of it is being able to inform content creators, our photographers, how successful they are shooting to a shot list, by having those discussions by art directors around the images and content they’re creating.

[6:41] Having some sort of record and being able to say, “It’s done, this set of images, you can do this slightly differently and these images will be able to serve a wider range of uses.”

[6:55] That’s one benefit of that workflow type of creative review and approvals implementations.

Henrik:  [7:02] These are very common issues that many organizations have. Getting collaborative tools to your point, and also getting the tools to not only deduplicate, and control renderings, and version control, but also to know what the single source of truth is for brand consistency.

Kenneth:  [7:18] Absolutely. That single source of truth is another pain point. I attend conferences, and a lot of the organizations that are attending may be in search of just starting the DAM process, as far as finding which software to use and how to set it up, how to govern it, and that’s always a battle with whoever holds the purse strings.

[7:41] I think one of the things I may have to be an advocate for within Kohler may be a greater emphasis on a PIM system, product information management tool, and how it integrates with a DAM system, because we use our DAM to drive that syndication of assets out to our web catalog. All those images have to marry to information about whatever’s pictured.

[8:05] Those catalog images, the data from that should come from a PIM. Right now we’re taking that information and inserting it into our system, manually, per asset. We have an opportunity there to automate that more by establishing a single source of truth for that product information.

[8:32] When product information changes, if something gets discontinued, all that information will flow automatically into the DAM system, and so that metadata is more dynamic, living, breathing kind of metadata.

Henrik:  [8:47] That’s a very popular and hot topic in DAM, is to get to product information management to your point, tying with DAM so you don’t have to reproduce the data from one system to another, and have the master record of your information, your catalog items, and all the SKUs, product codes, et cetera, in your PIM, and sync up with the DAM.

[9:06] Your master record is your PIM and the repository of all the imagery that may or may not be active, to your point, is in your DAM.

[9:14] There are several vendors who are very interested in making that easier for companies. You’re not the only organization out there that has this issue, which is great to hear.

[9:24] Kenneth, what advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?

Kenneth:  [9:29] That’s a good question. I can share a little bit of how I got there. Maybe that helps those aspiring to becoming DAM professionals and even inspires those who are. There’s a lot of talk about convergence. One of the topics at a recent DAM conference was, “Are we all becoming each other?” In a way, the convergence helps us push past some of the boundaries we run into.

[10:00] The breadth of knowledge has definitely been a factor in the success that I’ve had with DAM here at Kohler. Before being in this role, I was pursuing a career doing photography professionally.

[10:13] I’ve got an understanding of what the photographers, who are delivering creative content to be stored in this repository, a frame of reference to what they’re thinking or doing. In addition before that, I studied at the University of Michigan.

[10:29] I studied industrial product design, and I was in a school of art and design, and was able to take all the photography requirements as well in my time there.

[10:41] The industrial design thinking, the problem solving, the creative problem solving, those have really been helpful in coming into Kohler, a place that already had an established DAM system, and being able to see what was already happening, and trying to come up with new, more efficient ways to do some of the things they were doing.

[11:06] Our studio’s been digital for probably the last 10 to 12, maybe 15 years. There was a lot of existent content when I got here, but we’re creating more and more images each year than before.

[11:20] The design thinking has really helped to push the boundaries and to come up with creative, new ways of looking at solving the workflow problems, or how content comes into the supply chain, how it moves around and really completes a circle for the asset life cycle, I like to call it, where it may go out to a vendor, but it’s got to come back and it lives in the system. How does that asset end up becoming an archive that we reference back, historically.

[11:49] This year, I’ll be collaborating a lot more with our corporate archivist, as she digitizes a lot of the historical content that she has in her archives. Our history is increasingly becoming captured digitally. We’ll still have physical artifacts in archives in the future.

[12:09] A lot of the speeches that may have been written 60 years ago, that we have a paper‑printed copy, they won’t have a digital equivalent. Trying to preserve some of these things so that they are useful, working assets now, but turn into archives later, that design background has really helped me there. Even before that, I started off pursuing an engineering degree.

[12:37] Coding, computer science, writing code, is also a really good set of skills to have when implementing a system, working with IT to resolve and troubleshoot issues. I think that convergence is something that will really help shape and push the boundaries of the industry. That’s what I would share.

Henrik:  [13:01] Great. Thanks, Kenneth.

Kenneth:  [13:03] Thank you.

Henrik:  [13:04] For more on this and other Digital Asset Management topics, go to Another DAM Podcast has over 150 podcast episodes for you to listen to, including this one. Visit If you have any comments or questions, feel free to email me at Thanks again.

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Another DAM Podcast interview with Kate Jordan Gofus on Digital Asset Management



Henrik de Gyor:  [0:00] This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with Kate Jordan Gofus. Kate, how are you?

Kate Jordan Gofus:  [0:09] I’m well, how are you?

Henrik:  [0:10] Great. Kate, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management (DAM)?

Kate:  [0:14] I’m the digital librarian for a healthcare software company. My company focuses on and we primarily use videos to help educate patients and empower them in their healthcare journeys. I manage the video library for this company. We’re a pretty small shop, so I’m involved in all phases of the Digital Asset Management process. That includes rights management and vendor relations. I am a client resource. I work with implementation, our product and development teams. I work with our support teams, troubleshooting. We also use a homegrown Digital Asset Management system so I do work with our development team quite a bit.

Henrik:  [0:53] Kate, how does a company focus on interactive software to help hospitals get patients more involved in their own healthcare use Digital Asset Management?

Kate:  [1:01] Because our software solution primarily uses videos to educate and empower patients, we have a large number of videos to manage. This includes version control, distribution, everything about the Digital Asset Management. We have well over a hundred client sites, facilities, hospitals who are using our software platform, and thus, our videos. We use the Digital Asset Management system to centrally manage files, and also metadata, for thousands of videos that are going to the software platforms in these hospitals. The videos are about various topics, ranging from oncology to relaxation content, like nature videos. We use the Digital Asset Management system to manage key wording metadata so we can know what we have available, and also as a means of distributing that in a streamlined and efficient way. Healthcare changes really quickly. We need to be able to update our content in a quick and efficient way and we need to be able to update that content at the hospitals, not just in one place. We use the Digital Asset Management system to do that. The needs of our hospitals vary widely, so we needed a way to be able to distribute what a hospital wants or what a hospital needs specific to that hospital. The Digital Asset Management system allows us to maintain consistency across almost 200 hospitals and also control what is there, what isn’t there. It also has allowed us to support growth. When I started with the company a couple years ago, we had one‑third the number of client hospitals that we do now, and if we were still FTP‑ing video files to all of our hospital sites and then manually configuring the videos…

Henrik:  [2:53] That sounds more painful that way.

Kate:  [laughing] [2:55] My life would be really terrible. Right now we use the Digital Asset Management system to distribute files to all of those sites, and we also distribute the metadata, and the way in which the files and metadata are transferred, eases the configuration process at the individual hospital very much. We are constantly moving more towards automation and improving processes to make this less and less painful. That’s what we use it for, intellectual and physical control of our video files.

Henrik:  [3:26] Kate, what are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with DAM?

Kate:  [3:30] I think that one of the biggest challenges I’ve seen is finding the right tools or system to manage your assets. Every organization is different and is going to have different needs and different ideas of what DAM is and what it can do for them. I have seen purchased DAMs, I have now seen a homegrown DAM, there is always the argument between hosting your own content and having your content hosted externally. I think that it’s really difficult and important to make sure that you’re using the right solution for your needs. I think that one of the challenges is that sometimes people jump into Digital Asset Management without doing a background research first.

[4:11] Another challenge that I’ve seen is people expecting technology to fix everything and to do so immediately. A lot of Digital Asset Management is improving processes and documentation and writing and enforcing rules. That means dealing with people. Sometimes, I will be asked, “But I thought the Digital Asset Management system was supposed to fix this!” The answer is often, “Well, it did fix it. It made it possible, it didn’t make it necessarily instantaneous.” I think that, that is another challenge and that’s a perception thing. We are very lucky that we definitely have buy‑in on our Digital Asset Management system at my organization. We existed for a long time doing the same kind of work without a Digital Asset Management system, so I think there is an appreciation for ours.

[5:00] I also think that a challenge I’ve seen is that organizations are always evolving. Digital Asset Management systems, especially homegrown Digital Asset Management systems, are always evolving. You have customization, you have enhancements, improvements, things like that. It’s a delicate line to walk between improving your DAM and trying to force your DAM to do things that it wasn’t meant to do and shouldn’t do. It’s hard to draw the line sometimes and say, “Well, the DAM could maybe do that, but it’s not the best tool to use for that, and it’s not going to make our DAM better.”

[5:37] Some of the successes we’ve had, using the Digital Asset Management system and using it correctly, has increased our turnaround time on new video content by over a factor of four. It used to take significantly longer when we would get new content from either our partner vendors or from our clients. It used to take a really long time for us to get that loaded on all sites. That’s a big problem in health care because you always want the most up‑to‑date information, patients deserve the most up‑to‑date information. We’ve significantly cut down our turnaround time for loading video content. We’ve also improved consistency and control. I know for a fact that all of my sites have the most up‑to‑date videos that we have. I don’t have to go to every client site, every hospital, to figure that out. I can access all of that information through our Digital Asset Management system because our Digital Asset Management system is linked very closely with the software platforms that are installed at all of our hospitals. It has made it easier to manage the content, its also made it easier to answer questions. Internal and external stake holders have lots of questions about videos and sometimes they want to know if there’s other content available. It makes it easier when I can quickly look at what content they do have so I can tell them what they might want to add.

[7:04] We have almost 200 hospitals. They sometimes want to create their own videos or they have found some relaxation video that they think is really great and they want loaded on their software platform. They submit that to us and we will load it and configure it on their software platform for them. It has to be ingested through the Digital Asset Management system and encoded properly and we need metadata and all of that stuff, but we encourage our hospitals to add any content to their facility that they think will make their patient population happy or improve outcomes for their patient populations. Sometimes, I get questions from one of our hospitals asking if I know about any music programs that their patients may be interested in. I can look in our Digital Asset Management system and say, “Yes, actually. This other facility in a completely different part of the country has found this great vendor that they love and we already have the videos encoded and if you got the licensing rights on your own, through the Digital Asset Management system, I can transfer those to you and you don’t have to get the videos encoded on your own, you don’t have to buy DVDs from anybody, all you need is to give them a call and maybe a PO number.” That makes our clients really happy and it makes patients really happy and that makes me really happy.

Henrik:  [8:23] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?

Kate:  [8:27] I think that something really important to remember is that a Digital Asset Management system, in my experience, never operates on its own. It’s never the only system that an organization is using. It is often seen as a support system, really. I think that it’s really important to continue to focus on interoperability and making it so that your system plays nicely with others and is not cogging up the works for your organization. I think that’s something that we need to continue to focus on as a DAM community.

[9:03] I also think its really important to focus on sustainability and scalability. We have a homegrown Digital Asset Management system, so I have a lot of input into how our DAM system evolved. That’s good, and that’s also dangerous. We need to make sure that any changes that we make are in the interest of sustainability and scalability so it doesn’t bite us in the bum later. I would say to people who are looking to get into the DAM profession, that you should be tenacious. Just try to fix the problems that you face in your organization as well as you can and recognize that it’s going to take a while and you’re probably going to have to try the same thing over and over a few times. Maybe differently, maybe the same way so that it works. Don’t be discouraged by big wigs who have fancy letters after their name. There are lots of different backgrounds in this field, and you don’t have to have gone to school for Information and Library Science to be good at this job, though I did. I think that, at the end, we’re really trying to fix problems and fixing them along the way. I think that if you are flexible and creative, you’re going to have more success fixing the problems. That’s what I would say.

Henrik:  [10:14] Well, thanks Kate.

Kate:  [10:15] Oh, you’re so welcome.

Henrik:  [10:15] For more on this and other Digital Asset Management topics, go to For this podcast, and 150 other podcast episodes, including transcripts of all the interviews, go to If you have any comments or questions, feel free to email me at Thanks again.