Another DAM Podcast

Audio about Digital Asset Management


1 Comment

Another DAM Podcast interview with Jonathan Phillips about 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 Jonathan Phillips. Jonathan, how are you?

Jonathan Phillips:   Pretty good.

Henrik de Gyor:   Jonathan, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?

Jonathan Phillips:  Well, I currently run two separate Digital Asset Management systems. My former company, that I worked for fifteen years at, we merged with a larger corporation and so currently I’m running the old Digital Asset Management system as well as taking on the newer Digital Asset Management system and I’m running part of the integration of the two systems, which is quite an undertaking I must say. It’s been a year so far and we’re about a third of the way through.

I came into Digital Asset Management probably about sixteen years ago. I actually came to it through graphic design and actually more precisely Photoshop. I was hired as a production and graphic artist and when I was there I quickly moved over to retouching the portfolio of hotel images that we had. And as you can imagine that’s probably one of our key marketing assets of the actual different properties and it was being underutilized greatly at that time in 2002.

So through the photography work, I then actually took on the role of art directing different shoots at different properties and that became a photography program for the properties. This led, actually at the same exact time, into an existing DAM system that they had, which was very rudimentary. It had some photos, a couple of logos in it and that was really where I first got my toes wet. And within three years we kept on growing, doing photo shoots and in about three years it took us to really develop into an actual Digital Asset Management system with metadata tagging, data trees, light boxes, you know, all the things that we know about Digital Asset Management at this time.

Within five years of me coming on, we really bulked out and made the photography program into a completely international project that we managed the photo shoots across the globe. In my career, I actually see the creation of digital assets and the management and distribution as part of a single workflow. So in my mind, it’s actually all one and the same. We kept on building on the system and resolving problems as they came up, creating more tools, we built a big web-to-print system, which we would actually change four times since then. And that’s where we’re really going on twelve years now and we’re still going strong.

So I’d have to say Digital Asset Management comes to people in very strange ways, and it can offer so many opportunities and it really has over the last sixteen years.

Henrik de Gyor:   Jonathan, how does a leading global hospitality company use Digital Asset Management?

Jonathan Phillips:   That’s a really good question. I’m not going to talk about the current strategy that we’re still developing. It’s still in the very beginning phases but I can talk about the last sixteen years of my life and building on that. I’d have to say, like I just said, we had a very holistic approach to the creation of assets, the managing of assets and then the distribution. We saw it as really, all in one, the same thing. Digital Asset Management that, as a single, unified creative and production department, where I was.

So as an example, I ran the photography photo shoots and then my team ran the submission process of getting them retouched and into the system. And then the same team managed all of the assets that the tagging, the usage rights, the user groups and accessibility. And then we also ran the distribution out into all of the GDS and OTAs as well as all of our partners. So, and that’s the entire travel agency industry, actually.

So it’s really been a massive undertaking. We also are in the same group creating logos, floor plans, meetings and guestroom floor plans, templates to be used, so all of those assets were really created in the same exact team that was managing the Digital Asset Management system and distributing them.

The creative teams, the Digital Asset Management, the distribution to websites, travel sites, marketing teams, they all worked as one large team with a single overall strategy. And I think this really helped us over the years identifying problems and coming up with the best possible solution that we could come up with in a very fluid way.

We saw Digital Asset Management and the marketing materials that we house as kind of an ongoing part of the creative process itself. So the managing tools that facilitated that creation was also the same as housing and the overall use of the asset itself. It’s quality, consistency, and distribution. It’s all one and the same. So for a company that’s selling any types of goods or services and the hotel business is actually doing both at the same time, it’s the market assets are the lifeblood of the company.

There’s nothing more precious than how the world will perceive us and the brand so I’ve spent a lot of time balancing the smallest, little tiny technical details and balancing that with the larger strategy of the hotel business as a whole. So we are always working across the international enterprise to streamline, to make changes, to meet the needs in a rapidly changing marketing world. And I just wake up at night and I just hope that the tools that we’re putting into place are going to hold up in the long run or as long as it possibly can. So it does keep me up at night.

Managing the Digital Asset Management system itself; there’s a lot of time that I spend talking to the customers, helping the customers, resolving problems with the customers and constantly making notes to make sure that the tools are working optimally and meeting the needs of the customers, which is the marketing and the different properties, the ownerships and our partners.

We use a range of really tech savvy managers out in a field, as well as people at the properties that rarely even get on a computer. So we’re always kind of bouncing ideas and the tools themselves off of that very diverse audience and the tool has to work for everybody. So that’s really, kind of the cornerstone of what we do here. I mean, there’s a lot of tools out there, and wow, it’s amazing that the technology that’s out these days. It’s matured in the last few years even, in incredible ways.

I mean, there’s just unbelievable things that are just really science fiction out there, from a few years ago. And finding the solutions that actually meet the goals of our company is really where this skill set comes in. I mean, we could look at out of the box solutions. We have constant debates over configuration versus customization. That’s, oh my god, I could go on for hours just about that.

And I found that the overall systems that we’re using, they really do need a lot more customization. I find that a really strong marketing team has really strong and clear needs and they have a great idea in their minds of what they’re looking for and a good system is going to match those needs and really customize and configure to be exactly what they need.

So I’m actually a big proponent here of boutique solutions. Because our routines have such high standards that that’s all they’re going to accept so I put a lot of thought into this as you can tell. There’s a lot of balancing of the client’s needs and getting those needs meet with the technology that’s available and then customizing it in a very specific way. And then of course, there’s always costs that comes down to just about every single project.

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

Jonathan Phillips:   Over a large and very diverse enterprise, we’re in 83 countries, we’ve got thousands of hotels and a lot of those are franchise models with properties and ownerships. I see in my world, it’s the creating of consistent quality assets that go into the system that’s always one of the great challenges that we constantly have. I know that’s not a straightforward Digital Asset Management problem but I think that’s a huge issue with any system that comes online. It’s really what goes in, comes out.

There’s the old saying that, garbage in, garbage out. The Digital Asset Management industry, it’s really, that’s the core, is if you get good assets, a semi-good system could survive it. If you got bad assets, nothing’s going to survive. It’s really not going to be useful to the users. So there’s a huge aspect of quality control in everything that we do here and that goes into the system itself making sure that we build a great system and then all the assets that go in are just as good.

More from a Digital Asset Management technology standpoint, I’d say the ongoing battle with that is that things get complicated and they get too complicated too quickly. So constantly keeping it simple. And that’s kind of a mantra we’re always thinking about is keeping it simple. Complexity is going to creep into any system with a large number of assets in it. Once you start tagging you got translations, you have all the categories, you’ve got APIs and distribution. So we try to keep the base data and file structure as simple as we possibly can.

Every time we want to add something simple like, just another asset type, we know the ramifications of that can be massive. So we have a lot of arguments about those sorts of base structure changes and they’re really crucial decisions to us and we do agonize over them. Maybe a little bit too much, but we do. We see that as kind of the philosophical statement of Digital Asset Management is keep it simple because complexity is going to come in by the very nature of managing assets and the number of assets you have to manage.

But you know, another big challenge that I see, that I’m pretty passionate about now that you mention it, is UX: user experience. Any DAM system is just a tool. It’s got users, and the success and failure of the system is the success or failure of the users themselves. The best-programed system, it can be completely a huge failure if the user experience is not taken into account. The UX is a big thing in apps and web design these days. But I think it applies to Digital Asset Management. Personally, I think it applies everywhere. It’s just, it comes down to good design and I think good design can make or break just about anything.

We do a lot of user testing, as much as anybody can. I’ve had some great inspirations working in a department where I’m right next to the creatives. So I’m within earshot of the web designers and the app designers so I do get a lot of influence from them and I steal a lot from them as well honestly, and they know it and they’re proud of it. So really taking an interface and really agonizing over the details of the interface, of where every little detail, every little button, the user experience of what happens when they hit a button, we put as much thought of that into that as we do just about any structural change we do on the back end in the programming.

Programmers don’t always see eye to eye but I’ve always believed that the system really has to act in the way it’s supposed to act and behave in a way that is intuitive.

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

Jonathan Phillips:   That’s a tough question. Actually, I love mentoring and I think mentoring comes naturally in a situation to situation basis for me. But overall, thinking about it, let’s see. First I’d say always balance a very clear vision of what you want to accomplish and adaptability. You can have great ideas and you can be great at what you do but you have to adapt. You’ve got clients, you’ve got a lot of people who have a lot of opinions and you have to go with the flow. Specifically Digital Asset Management, I try to advise people on my team that you have to know the business that you’re in, that you can know the technology, you can know Digital Asset Management, you can know content management, you can know library science and that’s all great. But if you don’t understand your clients and their needs, you’re really in a hole and you got to dig out of that.

So listen to your clients’ needs. Always coming back to the plan that best meets the needs of your clients and coming up with really creative, streamlined solutions to their needs is where really great Digital Asset Management system and manager come in. So I guess it comes down to being a creative problem solver. That’s probably the second piece of good advice.

You know, I didn’t come into Digital Asset Management in a straight way, and I don’t think most people do. I think most people come to Digital Asset Management from someplace else, be it IT, marketing, or like maybe from a creative background. Yeah, I think everybody who’s in the business feels like they came into it the hardest way possible.

When I got into it in 2002, there really weren’t any resources like there are now. I mean, it’s amazing how much stuff you can just look up and read and keep up on it. But I think I was successful because I listened to my clients and I came up with creative solutions. I really looked at every detail and I made sure that it really worked well. In that way, I think my Bachelor of Science in the Fine Arts with an emphasis on technical illustration by the way, it really came in handy in Digital Asset Management. Coming up with really interesting solutions and I thought that way. And it never hurts that I always tried to go above and beyond. I always tried to meet the expectations and then how do I go beyond that and delight my client. And that’s always been a kind of, internal mantra of mine.

Advice, yeah. It always comes down to creative solutions. I think that’s a good one as well. There’s so much great technology out there and I think it can be really seductive seeing bells and whistles and artificial intelligence and predictive modeling and all this whiz-bang. And you just got to remember that it comes down to users and how do users see the system and how to best meet those goals, before any of the great, amazing technology that’s out there.

And actually speaking about technology, I think the best technology for coming up with ideas is a pencil and paper. I still use a mechanical pencil and a piece of paper whenever I have to think through a problem. I love paper prototyping. I think it’s the fastest way; it’s the best way to come up with really great ideas, is just doodle and scribble down all of your ideas. I doodle up entire pages and then I take post-it notes and I rip them up and I cover different pieces and I put different buttons and I can do it so fast and it’s so intuitive doing it with a pencil. I recommend everybody try to problem solve with just doodling it out on a napkin or a piece of paper. It really is, it might sound old school but I just don’t think there’s a better solution out there for just thinking things through.

And again last thing, going back to the last thing I said in the last question was user experience. It basically trumps everything else, being submitting images or managing or searching a system. It’s how it works and how people react to it. There’s so many resources out there to learn how to really make an interface that is really human and is just intuitive. And that’s another thing, is Digital Asset Management, read up on user experience. It will really, really help you out in the long run. I guess that’s kind of me going back to my artistic roots though and that never goes away. So, there you go.

Henrik de Gyor:   Well, thanks Jonathan.

Jonathan Phillips:   No problem.

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


Check out IEN’s Digital Assets and Content Leadership Exchange on January 22-24, 2018 in New York City.

Hear from leaders like Jonathan Phillips, Carol Thomas-Knipes, Tracy Wolfe and more.

Download the event brochure here.

You can use this discount code ANOTHERDAM200 for $200 off event registration

 

 

 


1 Comment

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.


1 Comment

NYC DAM Meetup on Digital Asset Management, Artificial Intelligence and Automation

On August 24, NYC DAM Meetup organized a panel discussion on Digital Asset Management, AI and Automation with the following panelists:

Kristin Shevis – Chief Customer Officer, Clarifai

Brea Tremblay – Content Strategy, Viacom

Mark Milstein – Managing Director, Microstock Solutions

Moderated by Henrik de Gyor

Below is a link to the unedited audio recording (Duration: 1 hour 5 minutes):

Download MP3 audio recording