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Another DAM Podcast interview with Douglas Hegley 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 Douglas Hegley. Douglas, how are you?

Douglas Hegley:  [0:10] I’m good, thank you.

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

Douglas:  [0:14] Currently, I sit at the executive leadership level in a major fine art museum in the Twin Cities. I would be the ultimate decision maker. The Digital Asset Management systems would be operated underneath my responsibility.

Henrik:  [0:27] Douglas, how does a fine art museum use Digital Asset Management?

Douglas:  [0:31] What’s interesting, I think, what might be a misnomer for some people, the Digital Asset Management in an art museum is actually a business driver like it is in any business. Art museums have art objects. Those objects themselves have data records for them, and those are kept in a different system.

[0:47] But we do need a Digital Asset Management system for keeping photographs of those objects, and often there will be many of those. Various angles, raking lights. Sometimes x‑ray, other spectrometer those kinds of things, as well as images of people and parties and the history of the institution. It goes on and on and on.

[1:06] I would say at this point that museums are still sticking mostly with still images in terms of Digital Asset Management. We haven’t fully embraced media asset management. We’re producing videos and that production is accelerating. I don’t think we’ve really faced some of the struggles we’re going to have, similar to the ones we had with digital photography 5 or 10 years ago.

Henrik:  [1:27] What are the biggest challenges and successes with Digital Asset Management?

Douglas:  [1:31] There are many. One of the biggest challenges for us as an industry is that our metadata models are not mature. There are many different standards for the way that you would record what is in that picture. The built‑in metadata is easy enough ‑‑ date and file sizes and everything else.

[1:53] For us, since it’s often object centered photography so we’ve taken that three‑dimensional sculpture, we’ve taken it to the photo studio, lighting it, shooting it.

[2:02] How do you attach that asset to the record that’s in a different system that describes that object? We struggle with moving data back and forth, mirroring data, coming up with better methods of attaching the digital assets themselves to all of the other kinds of content that we have about an art object.

[2:22] Then, I think for us, being non‑profits, being small, being very tight funding models, affording a fancy Digital Asset Management system is a bit of a struggle. Then the first foray into digital photography that museums took beginning about 10 years ago, we had a tendency to over buy. We would be sold very fancy Digital Asset Management systems that could do lots and lots of wonderful things.

[2:48] None of which we ever took advantage of.

[2:49] We kept paying the fee every year, and throwing the assets in, and struggling with metadata models. Not really making much progress. The success is that when I worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art the photo studio went digital. Within about a year, they had amassed an enormous closetful of CDs.

[3:09] How do we go back and find those images that we shot a year ago? If there’s a success that’s clear it’s in the capacity to locate, download, relocate, reshoot when necessary the assets that are actually needed. It’s not a manual process anymore. We can have multiple users log into a system, find the image you’re looking for.

Henrik:  [3:25] You can more rapidly search, find, use, reuse, repurpose.

Douglas:  [3:30] I think that was a clear business win. I also think it’s aged a little bit. That win really took place…at the Met it probably took place about 2003, 2004. I’m currently at the MIA. They had a system that’s about the same age. The systems are, in essence, aging because they’re becoming full of assets, and because the metadata model, as I mentioned before, is really not mature or specific enough.

[3:54] Really not mature or specific enough. We have issues with overflow of result set. People go in and they search on something like “Rembrandt.” They’ll get thousands of returns. Many of which are place‑holder records. They are old black and white study photographs. It’s not clear which one I’m supposed to use for my marketing campaign.

[4:15] I go and start asking my friends. Now we’ve blown it out of the water. The reason they have an asset management system is so that anybody, even with a cursory knowledge of what they’re looking for, should be able to come in and get what they need.

Henrik:  [4:28] True. Let’s use that example of searching for Rembrandt and you get documents and records, and then maybe some photos of the Rembrandts that you may have. Can’t you filter down to, say, “paintings of” from the thousand records for the sake of argument?

Douglas:  [4:41] Again, when you over buy a system of course that functionality is there. Users need a lot of training to understand how to use it.

Henrik:  [4:49] Add that information in all fairness.

Douglas:  [4:50] Right, exactly. The only keyword on the photograph is Rembrandt. I should say the photograph on maybe 700 photographs. There isn’t a really good mature metadata model. Now, maybe the photographers remember because they know that only Charles would be shooting the master image. He shot those paintings about in 2007.

Henrik:  [5:12] At high resolution blah, blah, blah with the proper lighting.

Douglas:  [5:14] They can go in the system and they can say, “I only need things shot by Charles. I want them 2007. I want them only the TIFFs.” They can get that for you.

Henrik:  [5:22] To your point, you can search for the TIFF, or you can search for the file type, meaning, “I don’t want a .doc of Rembrandt’s about the insurance record, or the transfer record, or the purchase record or whatever. I want the TIFF or the raw file or the JPEG or whatever.”

Douglas:  [5:39] Although, to be clear, we’re not currently in the DAMs that we have storing any .docs. They could, I suppose. We’re not doing that.

Henrik:  [5:45] Or PDF, for that matter?

Douglas:  [5:46] There may be a few PDFs. That’s not really the core business case right now. The core use is still images, high res, primarily objects. Secondarily, events, people, activities of a museum being recorded.

[6:02] We also have an archive dating back 130 years, but it’s a physical archive. A few of those things get digitized now and then because there’s some need for them in a publication or something, so some of those things in there. Right now, it’s mostly just still image.

Henrik:  [6:19] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals, and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?

Douglas:  [6:23] It’s a really good question. First of all, I don’t consider myself the world’s expert on answering this question. I would say that in the museum arena, which is the arena I know best, museums are in need of people to come into our world and help us adapt best practices, help understand how businesses are running in this way.

[6:48] One of the core differences, in a way, is that we’re all looking at Digital Asset Management systems as if they are at their core set up to be persistent electronic archives. We’re not a for‑profit vendor who is creating products for which there are seasons and catalogues and websites to be made, and campaigns to be run, advertising, marketing, press, everything else, and then a year later it’s all new products. It doesn’t matter what happens to the photos of the shoes from last year.

[7:18] For us, every time we take a photo, there are a number of things. First of all, I’d say it’s a fine work of art. You’ve moved it from its safe storage space into a photo studio. Any time you move something that old and that fragile, you’re damaging it. Maybe it’s not obvious, but you have micro‑fractures, or you’re exposing it to different atmospheric conditions, or different lighting conditions, whatever it may be. You’re actually not doing good by the artwork.

[7:46] I don’t mean to belabor that point, because people are very professional and very careful. Accidents almost never happen, but it’s still a fact that it’s a risk. If we’re going to do this, we’re going to move this work of art into a studio, light it, shoot it, let’s do it at the absolute most professional, highest resolution that we can.

[8:07] Let’s get as many angles. Let’s get as many types of spectral photographs that we can manage right now so that we put that wonderful and rare and unique object back into its secure storage space and don’t touch it again for years.

[8:20] What we’re doing is we’re capturing these incredible photographs, but we’re amateur in then what we do next. We have a very professional production process, followed by a very amateur archival metadata process.

Henrik:  [8:36] Does the workflow fall off? Is that your point?

Douglas:  [8:39] Workflow falls off a little bit. The folks who are doing it are probably the photographers themselves, and/or relatively junior people, probably not a strong metadata library background. I don’t mean to single anyone out. There are certainly people there who are skilled. If any of them were to leave their positions, it’d be hard to replace them.

[8:58] It’s specialist knowledge. Even with that specialist knowledge, what’s missing then is some real world experience of having run this kind of system, where it’s a really rapid fire production environment.

Henrik:  [9:10] You’re embedding the information, to your point. That may be missing because most photographers don’t like adding metadata to their files. There’s a lot of value to finding it again if they add a lot more than just the word Rembrandt, to your point earlier.

Douglas:  [9:24] You’re right. There’s been talk here at the Henry Stewart DAM New York about having workflows that would capture data that would then automatically become metadata. That’s terrific. There you get subject and photographer assigned, and all these other kinds of things that can happen automatically.

[9:41] In the use cases that we’re seeing, though, whether it’s internal. In the internal, you would have content creators, writers, editors, people working with the press, marketing, whatever it may be. They don’t think in those more academic, scholarly ways. They want the hero image of “Lucretia” by Rembrandt, and they want to be able to get it right now because they’re on the phone with someone who wants to do a story.

[10:03] We need keywording in a very…

Henrik:  [10:07] Consistent way?

Douglas:  [10:08] It’s consistent, but it’s also natural language. We have keywording that says things like in the acrylic on canvas.

Henrik:  [10:18] Which you probably have a few.

Douglas:  [10:19] Yeah. Oil on canvas, oil on copper, terracotta, these kinds of things, which are very important and they are the fact.

Henrik:  [10:26] Yes, the medium.

Douglas:  [10:27] When your press agent is on the phone with a reporter from the New York Times, they don’t go to the system and type in terracotta.

[10:34] They are on the phone, they’re talking, they’re trying to type to try to type things like clay, pot, Africa, bead work and you do desperately trying to find the image, like, “I am trying to find it for you right now, Mr. such and such.”

[10:47] Because we don’t have that piece in there, it makes the system of much less use to them. So instead what they’re doing is emailing somebody, like a photographer, their friend, saying, “What do you have that pot for Africa with the beads?” They’re like, “Oh yeah, sure” and so two people get involved in the work when it really should just be one.

Henrik:  [11:03] It is really tied to, in part, institutional knowledge.

Douglas:  [11:06] Here is what I want, because I am not a Digital Asset Management worker, expert, it is not my training, but if you had an organization that was constantly feeding stories to the press. So whatever that may be, there must be folks out there who do sports photography, something like that.

[11:28] They got to be uploading those things quickly, they got to be tagging them with the kinds of words that sportswriters are going to use, like “World Series Game 3” and you better have it or no one is going to use your images.

[11:36] We don’t have that discipline, is a weird word for it because it is kind of lightweight, but it’s so absolutely necessary to make the asset findable across a much broader swath of people.

[11:49] If I were to tie it back to some of the strategies that we’ve been talking about in the art museum world anyways that we have been in an industry that for 150 years has been in the kind of, if you build it, they will come mode.

[12:04] We’re great, we’re fancy, everyone should come. If you’re not coming, there’s something wrong with you.

[12:10] This was the old model, the old elite model in having an art museum. What you’re seeing art museums do in the last, I don’t know, 10 years, maybe a little bit more and say, “No, no, no, no. Look, this is important. Art education being gutted in this country, creative thinking gutted, innovation gutted.”

[12:27] You can’t get this kind of stuff in school anymore. You should come to a museum. That makes museums need to be more engaging, more embracing of different points of view.

[12:38] Instead of saying to someone, “Welcome to the museum, you must be very proud to be here,” we have to say, “Welcome to the museum, we are really glad you are here. How can we help you have an experience that you will never forget?”

Henrik:  [12:49] To your point, even with DAM, it needs to be more accessible. Once they are more accessible, then people can obain it. Hypothetically in the virtual museum sense, I’ve worked with some that are doing that piecemeal. That’s the future challenge, I assume, with some.

Douglas:  [13:07] That’s the tactical implementation of a philosophical point. Let’s say our PR marketing hire a couple of young social media folks. They want to throw together a Tumblr site or a Pinterest or Instagram. They want to grab some photos from the collection.

[13:23] They go into the system and start saying like, “Give me an exciting photo that shows women having fun.” The system doesn’t have anything like that in there. It has like Matisse “Bathers,” but that is not what a 28‑year‑old social media manager is looking for.

[13:38] I know we’re a little bit, I’m beating the horse to death here, a little bit, but it is a metadata model is less about this sort of deep scholarly academic information and more about, “Hey, guys, what exactly do we have here?”

Henrik:  [13:49] That could be controlled but that could be a taxonomy, because of those events, to your point earlier, happened regularly in the kinds of activities that happen in the museum, because there’s only so many things that will happen in a museum.

Douglas:  [laughs] [14:00] There is a lot of things that will happen in the museum.

Henrik:  [14:01] That are permissible in a museum.

[14:02] [laughter]

Henrik:  [14:05] If it’s a fundraiser, or…

Douglas:  [14:08] It is funny, we’re beholden to our own approach when I worked at the Metropolitan. There were years when there were almost 20,000 events on the event calendar in 365 days.

[14:18] Now I am at a smaller regional museum, but the number of events still is in the thousands for year. Now that’s counting things like tours and school groups coming in, but each of these things happen and we are slaves to our own success in this way. We do not want to stop doing all of that.

[14:36] It is a little overwhelming, there’s photography of all a lot of it that nobody can find and that is the whole point of having a DAM in the first place.

Henrik:  [14:44] Thank you, Douglas.

Douglas:  [14:45] Thank you.

Henrik:  [14:46] For more on Digital Asset Management, log on 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 NYC DAM Meetup Organizers 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 Chad Beer and Michael Hollitscher about NYC DAM, the New York Digital Asset Managers Meetup group. The world’s largest Meetup group about Digital Asset Management.

[0:18] Chad, you’re the founder of this Meetup. Tell us how it all started.

Chad Beer:  [0:23] I was working as a DAM manager in 2009. I was looking to move onto the next challenge, the next job. I needed to deepen my education about DAM. I needed to network and to get to know more people in DAM. I had gone to conferences and wasn’t finding the connections I wanted to find.

[0:47] I wasn’t connecting with people who were talking real nuts and bolts about their jobs and how they do it. I got connected to Meetup through a friend in an unrelated industry. I had gone to some other types of software Meetups and was amazed that there were no DAM Meetups.

[1:04] Out of frustration and out of wanting to get people to tell me about DAM, I thought, “I’m going to start a Meetup.” I saw Mike speak at a Henry Stewart conference. I liked his presentation. I liked how his thinking worked.

[1:18] I approached him after his talk and asked if I set up a Meetup about DAM, would he think that it’d be something that he would want to be involved in. He was very positive about the idea.

[1:27] That was the first piece of encouragement that I received that was outside of my own head. I just went online and started up the group.

[1:34] The first meeting we had was me, Mike, one other member, my boss and my boss’ boss. It was a tiny group. Mainly my bosses came because they wanted to see what the hell I was doing, using up a conference room in the evening, and also to wish me well.

[1:50] We started with a first meeting of five members. We talked about what the Meetup should be about. It was a very broad, kickoff Meetup.

[2:01] I love that Mike was there from the start, from before day one, really. Then, we just started winging it and setting up topics that we would find interesting. We were doing the presentations ourselves at first. It didn’t take long.

[2:15] As soon as we found somebody with some expertise and who was willing to talk, we started getting people who had shown up at the group to talk at the next one, and the next one, and the next one.

[2:23] It grew from there.

Henrik: Mike?

Michael Hollitscher:  [2:26] It’s funny because thinking about it, there was space for us to fit into in the beginning. We joked that going to Digital Asset Management conferences were the one or two times a year that you didn’t feel totally alone.

[2:43] You could actually network with people, really interface and compare notes with the people who are doing this job, which five years ago was something more of an obscure trade to be involved in.

[2:59] Now I think it’s become something that’s becoming more and more ubiquitous every day in terms of how to manage digital content. We were able to fill a niche that a lot of people didn’t even know was needed.

[3:14] What Chad was talking about, in terms of how we just winged it, it was a Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland “Let’s put on a show” thing. We did it a little guerilla style, hosting it at places of work that we worked at.

[3:29] The people we were involved with, seemed like it was a perfectly fine thing to do. We slowly built up our membership, trying to think of interesting topics.

[3:39] In the end, the thing that’s driven us forward and gotten us to the point of our relative popularity now is that we really wanted to talk about the things that are necessary, that were really critical to us in our daily work days.

[3:58] We wanted to make sure that people who were showing up were fully engaged and really understood the key issues that we were dealing with at the time. It’s pretty amazing to think that it’s gone on for five years at this point, that so much has changed in the landscape from a point where DAM was, like I said, at that point, emerging from a backwater to a critical part of doing business every day.

Chad:  [4:23] I had no global perspective when I started it, at all. I agree with Mike that we totally filled a niche that was not only ready to be filled, but there was an audience for it. We didn’t know this.

[4:35] I knew I was interested. I knew Mike was interested. I knew we had a common sensibility about metadata management. [laughs] So I knew we were aligned on a strategic level. That was it.

[4:46] We were very lucky, in a way. It was our timing and also our location. It’s possible for us to do this Meetup and have it as robust and ongoing as it is, because we’re in New York [City]. There’s a critical mass of not only people but professions that need DAM, so there’s a critical mass of DAM people in a small geographical area.

[5:09] We opened it up at what happened to be the right time in the practice’s maturity. If we had done it five years earlier, there wouldn’t have been enough people to talk about it or the issues wouldn’t have been codified enough to bring in an audience.

[5:25] I don’t think we would have known what the universal questions and problems were. There was a lot of luck and happenstance, timing and logistics, location.

Michael:  [5:33] Yeah and really sticking with it. It came from the fact that Chad and I both wanted some answers, or at least to have a discussion amongst our peers to figure out “How are you doing it? How are you actually getting this work done?” or “What are the hacks you have to do, not only from a technological standpoint but from a human standpoint of getting this kind of work done?”

[6:01] I think that’s the big thing. The emergent thought that has come out of the Meetups ‑‑ and Henrik, I know you’re a big proponent of this, too ‑‑ we always focus on the technology, but the longer you do this, the technology is the least interesting part of it after a while.

[6:18] It’s really, “How do you engage the human beings who have to use this technology?”

[6:24] One of the real things that we’ve brought to the table in general DAM discussion in the world is that you really have to talk about the people. You have to talk about how you enable people. The uniqueness of your organization has to really work with your end‑users and your stakeholders.

Chad:  [6:48] We did want to engage on those levels. In my mind at the time, the conferences weren’t very strong on those fronts.

[6:55] They’ve gotten a lot better. They’ve come down from preaching lofty best practices that aren’t really applicable to the day‑to‑day, and come down from vendor demos and things like that to more emphasis on use cases and more nitty‑gritty news you can use.

[7:10] That was not available much when we started this out, so we needed to talk to Mike’s point, not just about the human level of the work that we do and the hacks people do, but also nuts and bolts about how you get from point A to point B, how other professionals have done that.

[7:28] Also, not only did we want to facilitate presentations, we wanted to facilitate community and some interactions, some easy networking. The word “community” is really overused, but that’s what we were going for.

[7:43] Conferences only go so far with that, because they come at a pretty hefty cost. It costs a lot to go to a conference. We knew there were a bunch of people from small companies or independent contractors and certainly students or recent grads who were never going to go to conferences, that we’d never meet and interact with.

[8:03] The Meetup was a way to bring all those people together to missed people who also go to conferences. We felt that we were able to open doors up to a whole area of the DAM industry that couldn’t really get into the conferences, because they didn’t have the funding.

[8:18] That’s been a really valuable piece of it. Also, Mike brings up a really good point. This sticking with it was really critical. We’ve been doing it for five years.

[8:29] Mike and I have both been through job changes, and at some point or multiple points, we both hit a wall, where the demands of job or home life have been a lot to take on, and didn’t have the bandwidth to keep coming up with Meetup ideas.

[8:44] We were really glad that we had each other to bounce ideas off of and hand the baton back and forth to.

[8:49] This is where you come in, Henrik. When you joined us two years ago now, you added not only more bandwidth, but a new perspective, new contacts, a new perspective on the industry that not only helped us to keep going but helped enrich the content that we bring to the presentations every month.

[9:12] Can I ask you a question? Could you tell us about what it was like for you when you joined the Meetup, or how you decided you wanted to join the Meetup?

Henrik:  [9:19] I also had a job transition. I had a lot of time to spend in New York, thankfully. I’m a Virginia resident, so I commute to New York [City]…

[9:30] [laughter]

Henrik:  [9:32] …on a regular basis. I was thrilled to be engaged with a very thriving, literally, a community of Digital Asset Management professionals like yourselves and all the members. I only wanted to see that grow.

[9:45] As a content producer for my blog and podcasts, I know that content is king and if you produce good content, especially in person, people will come, especially if there’s networking involved before and after. We do that with the Meetups too.

[9:59] I wanted to hone that, focus on things that we hadn’t focused on and look at all the different topics that are out there. There’s plenty and there’s only more to come.

[10:09] You started this on July 20th, 2009, and we’re coming up to a milestone. We’ll be announcing our fifth anniversary at a very special place.

[10:19] I was really excited to come up with topics as often as I could, and the speakers whenever I could with your help, to get the community engaged and different parts of the community as far as who’s using it and how they’re using it, not just the technology.

[10:35] Obviously, the people, that comes first, then also the processes and information that are involved to one degree or another.

Chad:  [10:45] Probably the best thing I ever did after starting the Meetup was not trying to do it alone. I was never under the illusion that I could do it alone, or that that would be a good idea. This whole thing has been a real lesson to me in the value of collaboration. The more heads at the helm, the better.

[11:04] It helps, of course, that we are all like‑minded to a great degree. We all knew that about each other before we got involved. The Meetup is as strong as it is and still going because of everybody being involved ‑‑ not just us, all the members, too ‑‑ who also feed us some great ideas.

[11:21] Looking ahead, I would love it if there was more community involvement in at least getting ideas flowing and identifying people who could speak. I would love it to be a real soapbox for a lot of people in the DAM community.

Henrik:  [11:34] Getting more people engaged, whether it’s the organizers of the events, such as us, or the people who are hosting these events, because we’re always looking for great locations that can host 50 plus people. That’s typically how many we have on a regular basis.

[11:49] At the time of this recording, we have 680 members plus. We’ve doubled it from over a year ago, which is pretty amazing.

Chad:  [11:57] Speaking of locations, that brings up another economic issue. It’s the cost of locations. We’ve been challenged to find good locations because we have managed to keep our Meetup group vendor‑neutral.

[12:12] When we’ve been fortunate enough to get some sponsorship, mainly to fund video and the post video recording of some of the Meetups, the sponsors have been very hands‑off, just asking that we promote them with logos and credit, etc.

[12:27] Keeping some financial independence from any outside influence has been a limiting factor in that we have no budget for a lot of places that we could otherwise afford, but it’s also maintained a degree of integrity for our Meetup, and allowed us to steer our own ship.

[12:43] We can have whatever speakers we want, and we don’t have to worry about any conflict‑of‑interest from an economic perspective. I think that’s been huge.

Henrik:  [12:52] I agree.

Chad:  [12:53] I can’t believe it’s already five years.

Michael:  [12:55] We were so young once.

Henrik:  [12:58] I agree. [laughs]

Chad:  [13:01] We’ve all gone through job changes since getting involved in the Meetup. It’s funny. The Meetup evolves. We’re evolving as DAM professionals, and the industry’s evolving out from under and all around us at the same time.

Michael:  [13:12] It seemed like it was easier to do the first two years. I was in grad school. I was working a full time job, and also we were doing generally a Meetup a month at that point. I look back now, and I don’t know how I managed that.

[13:27] [laughter]

Chad:  [13:30] Same here.

Michael:  [13:31] It’s a greater challenge now. I’m challenged more in my work now. There’s more topics that we could cover. There’s probably more things to think about, but it’s not just about DAM anymore. It is about the whole content lifecycle. That’s maybe the more exciting stuff.

[13:54] Maybe where topics will evolve is more towards where DAM is an aspect of what we’re talking about. It’s really about the creative process. It’s about the process on the Web, about content determination, content access and analytics, all these sort of things where it’s like DAM is sitting at the bottom and feeding out.

[14:15] It’s really a question of how it ties into a lot of much larger issues. That’s what I’m interested in talking about. It’s just a question of how we put it all together.

Henrik:  [14:26] There’s going to be tons of that, as far as conversations and Meetups in the near future about that.

Michael:  [14:31] That’s what we have to figure out. [laughs] For those of you listening in, that’s something that us three have to sit down and figure out. What are we going to talk about?

[14:42] As Chad mentioned, that also comes from our user group too and some of the great people that we have who are de facto advisors at this point, or thought leaders who help influence our thinking, as well.

Chad:  [14:58] Not only has our work‑life situations become more complex, but the industry has gotten more complex. Our questions are more complex. When we started out, our questions about DAM were very simple.

[15:10] Now we’re thinking on a more complex level, fed by the work challenges that we’ve seen, but also the Meetups that we’ve seen other people present.

[15:23] I feel like the game’s gotten more complex. Reiterating Mike’s point, it’s no longer enough to just have one simple talk about metadata schemes, as one person did. That will be valuable, but man, there are so many more pressing issues now about file acceleration and system integrations. It’s a much more complicated world now. That makes the Meetups a little harder to plan, because you want to meet that raised bar.

Henrik:  [15:51] We raise the bar ourselves within the group by being one of the groups that video record all our panel discussions. We got sponsorship for that as we mentioned earlier, and they’re available on YouTube for free. Just search on YouTube for NYC DAM, and you’ll find them.

[16:07] NYC DAM is based in Manhattan. We meet in Manhattan, specifically. You can find the Meetup on We invite you to join if you have interest in Digital Asset Management.

Chad:  [16:22] Come and give us ideas. Share ideas, and share questions with us, because that’s where the next presentations come from.

Michael:  [16:28] Also, thanks for all your support. Because if nobody shows up, we can’t do it.

Henrik:  [16:33] It’s all about the numbers.

Chad:  [16:34] Exactly. That’s the community. It’s not us. We just provide a soapbox, but if nobody’s there to listen to whoever’s on it, then there’s no point.

Henrik:  [16:42] Thanks, guys.

Michael:  [16:43] Thank you.

Chad:  [16:44] Thank you.

Henrik:  [16:44] For more on Digital Asset Management, log on to If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email me at Thanks again.


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The People Aspects of Digital Asset Management: Part 1

In October 2013, I gave a presentation on The People Aspects of Digital Asset Management (DAM) during the Createasphere DAM Conference in New York City. This was audio recorded so the presentation could be shared with you. Enjoy.


Henrik de Gyor:  [0:01] This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset Management. I am Henrik de Gyor, today I’m speaking about the people aspects of digital asset management. Here is a recording of the Createasphere DAM conference presentation that I gave in New York in 2013. Enjoy.

[0:19] I’m Henrik de Gyor. Some of you may know me. I recognize some of the faces.

[0:22] For those of you who don’t know me,  I am the Director of Digital Asset Management services. That means I am a consultant in the DAM space. I have been there for a few years.

[0:33] You may also know me as blogger at and I did a few of those podcasts and blogs. Also authored a couple books and still working on others as well. I’m a regular speaker at Universities and lectures and conferences like this.

[0:51] Nominated DAMMY of the Year few times. Quick shot to the company I work for. We do a lot of all things aside from DAM. We are vendor neutral. We have offices all over the world.

This is the question that we ask everybody [What do you want to do with DAM?] because that is what you should be able to answer if you are going to get a DAM.

[1:11] It’s not just one of those check boxes where I need is a CRM, I need a DAM, I need a CMS. I don’t know what I am going to do with them, but I have to check that box. Couple of things that you want to remember is most organization want to be able to search, find, use and then the thing most organizations forget about is you want to able to re‑use and repurpose those assets.

[1:33] In order to get other ROI, return on investments as much as possible on all of your assets. Or as many as you can, not just use it once, or archive at once. The other thing to keep in mind is that there is the asset and there is metadata. A lot of people forget about the information part. The metadata makes your asset searchable, otherwise they’re not.

[1:58] As you accumulate more and all of us are, you want be able you find them. Then you want to have accountability, meaning the people who are going to be doing all that information, adding the information, finding the information, delivering that information, and those assets together need to be accountable through use through groups and roles.

[2:17] Then the access, people who should be accessing those files and have the permission to do so. Those who can’t or shouldn’t, don’t, that’s the security part. Then the distribution download or delivery of those assets, because if you can’t deliver it to whatever platform you need it on.

[2:36] Why do you have a DAM? Is it manual? How much time do you want to spend? How many people do you want to do it with? The other things to keep in mind is you find a lot today and you will have a lot more tomorrow, about the four parts of DAM.

[2:51] There is four parts. You heard a lot about the technology. Every conference talks about the technology. Views vendors X or vendor Y, solutions X or solution Y. Some people will be talking about the information, the metadata, or the taxonomy.

[3:07] Some people will be talking about the process. Today I am going to talk about that part right here. The people which everyone forgets about. That’s why I’m here to talk to you today. I propose this talk to several conferences. This is the only one who was willing to talk about the people part. Interestingly enough.

[3:31] I am being a proponent for those of you know for the users. Specifically for the people who use DAM, not the vendors because there are not there for you, they’re there to make money, for the most part. There is a lot to talk about in as far as people are concerned.

[3:49] Most people, before they get the DAM, waste a lot of time searching. Remember, there is searching, finding and using. They search for stuff, but they don’t necessarily find anything. They have lots of silos, folder structures which magically will help them find something.

[4:08] Or at least the person who created the folder structure. Or the file naming convention that means something to the person who originally created it, but nobody else or is not shared by everyone else or used by anyone else. Then, there is reuse or reacquiring of these assets, because you can’t find it. You reacquire, relicense, you repurchase, or you recreate new ways for more money.

[4:26] The whole process of DAM search, find, use, reuse, repurpose it, otherwise you are wasting your time and you are wasting your people’s time. It goes back to the people. What you are trying to do for your people? You are trying to save them time, you are trying to save you company money.

[4:41] Typically, there’s access free-for-alls, because you have silos everywhere or you have everything of all then you misuse it. That increases your liability because oops we weren’t suppose to use that talent for the last five years. We only had a license to use it for one year.

[4:58] Oops, well I guess we had to pay one lawyer time and law suits, and settle that out of court. Some companies actually have a budget for that, literally. Their account, hundreds of thousands, millions of dollars to settle things at court, because they don’t fix their liability problems.

[5:13] DAM can and should fix your liability problems with the right management for your licensed assets. Things that you acquire from Getty, from Corbis, from wherever you are getting it. Or the talent that is creating your assets externally. Or the talent that is in your images or videos.

[5:30] Then, they built silos. Each fiefdom has its own silos because it’s “their assets”. No its not. It’s the company’s assets. You get a paycheck from the same company, right? So start sharing.

[5:46] [background conversation]

[5:48] [laughter]

[5:49] Fiefdoms? Oh yes, that is a politics thing. We can get into that. Then you have Communication with the right assets. That breaks down and is limited to file names and folder structures. Your storage increases, while your management decreases.

[6:09] After DAM hypothetically if you do it right, you can save money and time. More time than money necessary sometimes. You can reuse and repurpose your assets if you can find them and know that you can use them legally. Right?

[6:24] You can access your assets and the people who should have access, can access those files, if you use permissions properly. Role based permissions meaning the functional role of this group can use those assets. The other groups that shouldn’t be using, because they don’t know what to use it for or how it should be used, don’t.

[6:44] They can see it and go “yes I prove that. It looks great”, and that’s it. Then you get the people like the right managers and things like that to clear those things for them.

[6:54] That can minimize your liability.

[6:55] You visit your legal department slightly less often. Your legal department shouldn’t fear when you come to them. And they should call on regular basis. They don’t like to see you when you have problems. They have enough problems already.

[7:11] Consolidating silos. Now ,this is back to politics part, right? You get minimized fiefdoms, if you actually communicate and share your assets. Some people don’t like that. They like empire building, so that there is another breakdown of things that you have to do.

[7:28] You can communicate and even collaborate. This is a new thing for some. Most organization are drowning in assets, because they are only accumulating more. How many people are in this room are decreasing the number of assets they accumulate every year? None, because we all hope that we have a job tomorrow.

[7:49] The only companies that are decreasing the number of assets they have, won’t be employed or exist very long. One question that we ask, that most people can’t answer, unless they do their homework is how long does it take you to find an asset for a new campaign or project?

[8:06] That number should decrease as you get a DAM and as you increase the efficiency of your DAM. One organization which will remain nameless. A Fortune 500 took ten people 30 hours to find one file. Who thinks that is acceptable in this room? Right, I didn’t think so.

[8:28] The other part that DAM should be able to do is manage your IP, just because you can find it, can you legally use it. Most organization can’t do that because they don’t look at their rights and is not clearly defined in a templated fashion. That’s part of their metadata it’s like this is who you need to contact for that, in order to reuse that asset.

[8:51] This is how much we paid last time for it. This is what rights we have to use it. This is where we can use it or should use it, because we have all rights reserved. This is royalty free or whatever is public domain or whatever it happens to be.

[9:10] The other thing is metadata is not automagically created. There is no metadata fairy. Still to this day. We’re still looking. Still haven’t found one. It still takes people to catalog and apply metadata to assets.

[9:29] An example is, when we license music when we go to iTunes, when we go to get a movie or an eBook from your favorite e‑retailer, we don’t look or assume there is so much metadata in order to find that file.

[9:48] We just think it looks so done, it’s already there. Someone actually applied that, well before you saw it. That’s why you can buy it. The most successful companies out there have metadata applied to all their assets. No matter how much you search for that file, you will find it. That leads to more sales.

[10:09] Shocking, isn’t it? If you can find it, you can use it. If you can’t find it, you can’t use it and they won’t buy it. They won’t be able to use it again. The other thing you have to keep in mind is there are three perspectives in every organization. At least three.

[10:26] There is the business side which cares about how much money is going in, how much money is going out. What value they are serving their customers and clients for their services or products. Are they delivering on time?

[10:39] Then, there’s the creators who want to do anything and everything with as much time and resources as possible until deadline comes.Then, there is the technical perspective that don’t get any feedback, don’t get the requirements they need to deliver the product that they need to deliver to the end users within the organization or externally.

[10:57] Neither of them, all three, don’t talk to each other unless they are talking amongst other organizations. The idea is these three circles do intersect, because they work usually within the same organization. They collect a paycheck from the same organization.

[11:10] They deliver probably the same products and services that people will use or do use, hopefully, but they don’t communicate enough. Often the DAM professionals sit in the middle or should sit in the middle of all three.

[11:28] They need to be able to communicate in their perspective, of all three, why DAM is important. Why they should see value in it, in their perspective. Including creative, including technical, including business, not just “it’s going to save you money” the creators and technical, they want to save money, but that’s not why they are there…

Click here to continue to Part 2 of this presentation

If you have any questions or would like to hear more about this topic, please feel free to contact me directly.

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Another DAM Podcast: Three years later


This is Another DAM Podcast

And I am Henrik de Gyor.

This is the third anniversary podcast of Another DAM Podcast.

Thanks to you, I have been able to record:

And even create a book titled Another DAM Podcast Transcribed. Thanks to the DAM community who crowdfunded this through Kickstarter.

To everyone who made this possible… Thank You.

More to come…

Stay tuned.