Henrik de Gyor: This is Another DAM Podcast about digital asset management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with David Iscove. David, how are you?
David Iscove: I’m good, thanks, Henrik. How are you?
Henrik: Great. David, how are you involved with digital asset management?
David: I started in the video game industry, organizing undervalued audio assets of original master recordings for the Guitar Hero franchise. From there, I moved over to direct and reorganized the physical archives of a major music label. Then started focusing my efforts on optimizing digitally born content through production process for that same label, with the ultimate goal being discoverability and accessibility of all assets through the archives phase.
Henrik: How does a global music leader use digital asset management?
David: [01:00] The financial backbone of any creative organization is the exploitation of its intellectual property. Similar to a manufacturing facility in the most respectful way possible, the organization needs to produce content at a rapid rate in order to compete and keep up with market demand. In the case of the global enterprise with multiple subsidiaries, visibility of the products output by various groups is essential for the overall efficiency and cost savings of the parent. You can’t work in a siloed environment without incurring some form of redundancy or unnecessary expense.
[02:00] With an enterprise level DAM, we can partition the workflow of each subsidiary to satisfy the privacy that each demands while also assuring accountability for all assets as a whole and serving up select assets to other groups as required. Also, by incorporating a DAM with production capabilities, the goal is to utilize it as the repository as early on in the production process. Not only after the active market life cycle of an asset. If this is embraced, there’s an ease of flow between the front line creative production teams and the long term archiving of that asset, which is usually managed by a separate group.
Henrik: David, what are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with digital asset management?
David: [03:00] Challenges: getting people to dedicate the time to shift their focus over to a new platform. Unfortunately a lot of production is handled via offline or disconnected communication tools, either via email or file transfer applications or even personal storage accounts. There’s so much risk associated with working this way but the processes have been established over time and so people are comfortable operating within that chaos. Adoption requires fully embracing the use of new systems. There’s definitely a period of transition in where people feel uncomfortable and confused by the new workflow, but I can’t stress enough, it’s temporary. The deeper you dive, the easier it becomes. This is true for any system or new workflow. It’s just about convincing creatives to find the time to shift their thinking. Once you get through that growth period, you never look back. You can clearly see the holes in the old way of working, and you find efficiencies come quickly.
Henrik: David, what advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
David: Try to stay system agnostic as much as possible. If you can, technology will be adopted more readily. There’s something really interesting about the DAM space. Maybe this applies to software and hardware in general. People are so passionate about one platform over the other. They get emotionally tied to a particular brand or company. The client needs to make a selection. So much in fighting and pride can delay the eventual roll out. Most modern DAM systems offer very similar features. Instead of pushing one particular platform because it has certain bells and whistles, really listen to the needs of the organization and cater your recommendations to satisfy those needs. Don’t try to sell something outside of a client’s workflow.
[04:00] In general, do try to make recommendations of tools that consolidate assets over their entire life cycle in order to avoid migration or transfers to additional platforms. Any movement of an asset introduces risks, whether that be compatibility of fidelity or meta data. Obviously some risk can’t be avoided. Assets are meant to be experienced and consumed, so they need to move and be shared, even if it’s only with the eventual Martian overlords that intercolonize Earth in 200 years.
Henrik de Gyor: [0:01] This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today, I’m speaking with Bryan Cohen. Bryan, how are you?
Bryan Cohen: [0:10] I’m great, thanks. Thanks for having me on the podcast today. I appreciate the invite.
Henrik: [0:14] Bryan, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
Bryan: [0:17] I’m the Digital Platform Lead for Pfizer. My main role is overseeing the digital platform that we use for review and approval of all of our pharmaceutical promotional materials. That’s a global system that has about 5,000 users.
Henrik: [0:33] How does a leading research based biopharmaceutical company use Digital Asset Management?
Bryan: [0:39] We use it in a couple of different ways. Our key is because we are so highly regulated with what we can actually show to consumers and what we can actually show to our healthcare providers. Our main focus with Digital Asset Management is to review and approval process for all the materials that we create.
[0:57] A lot of people don’t realize…much like a magazine, or a newspaper, even an online website…the amount of review that goes into every little PC you see, whether it’s in a doctor’s office, or commercial TV, or even a radio ad. It goes through a very intense review and approval process.
[1:16] Not just from an editorial standpoint, but also from a medical, legal, and regulatory standpoint, before even gets submitted to the FDA. That is our main focus. There are tons of different rules and regulations. United States is the most highly regulated. There are certain rules in Canada, Latin America, Africa, Middle East and even in the European Union there are about 15 or 20 different regulatory bodies that all have different rules and tweaks, and things that they require.
[1:46] Our review and approval system is almost like one global system that manages a hundred different newspapers with different languages. We have that complexity as well. On top of that, what we are trying to really get our hands around with the rapid pace that we have with acquisitions with companies that we’re either merging with, or smaller pharmaceutical companies that we recently purchased.
[2:10] We’re trying to get our hands around, not only their review and approval system but also their asset management. The pure thing when you think of DAM, normally images, videos, sound files, all of that stuff of course it’s different everywhere.
[2:24] It’s something that we’re even internally at Pfizer trying to get our hands around. With all of this electronic content that we’ve created, with these huge transitions you’re going all digital from a cost perspective and efficiency, and even in efficacy perspective with our advertising.
[2:40] We’re trying to really get our hands around and control all of that intellectual property. We use it at its core for review and approval. The larger picture is figuring out how to get our hands around these assets so we can drive more towards a custom, maybe not necessarily custom, but omni channel marketing and more targeted marketing flexibility with our assets.
Henrik: [3:05] Bryan, what are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with Digital Asset Management?
Bryan: [3:10] The biggest challenge for us is trying to convince folks at Pfizer, and even within all our pharmaceutical, the key to really have their hands on an intellectual property. A lot of pharma companies have outsourced the creation of that content. We have all kinds of things that we’ve purchased at agencies, and buried in their storage.
[3:32] The only thing we might see are the two or three photos that we might have used in a particular piece. The challenge is really a perception challenge. We don’t make money out of this digital content that we create.
[3:44] It helps to drive sales, but we’re not Huffington Post. We’re not AOL. A lot of these companies that make content and then make money directly from that content, either through subscription or advertising on their website.
[3:58] Convincing internal executives, and convincing just people in general at Pfizer of the need to focus on access. I don’t necessarily want to say control, but access of understanding of those digital assets is a huge challenge.
[4:16] As you would imagine, they’re focused on producing medicine. They’re focused on producing pharmaceuticals or consumer medicines, and getting those things to market. They’re focused on marketing as a whole and as a platform. Not necessarily worried about the nitty-gritty of how we manage metadata within the Digital Asset Management system.
[4:35] It’s not as sexy to them, and it’s not a focus because they don’t make money directly out of it. However they’re also starting to struggle with understanding what everything is. In order to create all these apps, and websites, and advertisements. The increasingly frustrated, the marketing teams are, with understanding what they already have out there so they can get market quicker.
[4:57] That is our biggest challenge. Our biggest success, I would have to say, over the last few years, at least for us, is going to more of a global mindset with what we create and being able to share this content from region to region or country to country and then fine‑tuning it.
[5:12] That obviously saves cost, but more than anything it gives teams the ability to leverage the things have been created in other places and are effective in other places, and customize that for a local market.
[5:23] We can get to the market quicker if, say, a drug is approved in another country, which happens all the time. It might be approved in the United Sates. A month or two later, it’s approved in Brazil. We need to be able to deploy materials quickly. We can’t recreate all these materials, all the time.
[5:40] Our global platform is a huge success and a big step forward in being able to accomplish that.
Henrik: [5:46] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Bryan: [5:51] That’s a really good question. I have to say from a personal experience I never aspired to become a [laughs] Digital Asset Management professional. Really these two questions here are…one leads into another.
[6:05] In a sense that I got into this industry, maybe 20 years ago, totally by accident I started as a graphic designer, and then realized that I really didn’t have the talent [laughs] to be a very good graphic designer.
[6:20] I also realized it’s difficult to make a very good living as a graphic designer. More than anything I noticed that I was way more into the background, the functioning of the applications. I was in desktop publishing and I used to use PageMaker, Quark, and then InDesign.
[6:37] I found that I really like the technical aspect of it more than artistic side of it. Even if I was an art director for a little while at The Wall Street Journal, and even though I did that, I designed pages and special sections, I found that I was much better using an artistic eye than I was creating the art myself.
[6:58] That really transferred into Digital Asset Management working on these large workflow systems and giving a little bit more into how these systems actually connect and make things happen.
[7:11] Becoming at Digital Asset Management professional, I would say that my biggest advice would be to get some experience in how these systems are used. It’s difficult to step right into a Digital Asset Management project and have expertise, because the large ones may only happen a few times right in your professional career.
[7:30] Rather may be better to gain some experience as a user. What we say is on the business side and not focus as much on the technical side. If you do that, then you get a much better understanding of your users and you’re able to transition that into the setup, the configuration, and get an understanding of really what the workflow needs.
[7:50] If you do that, it comes across in your language as you’re addressing your user community and addressing their concerns when you’re trying to roll out these big systems. You tend to give an increased buy‑in when that happens.
[8:03] The final thing that I would really say was first people aspiring to become a Digital Asset Management professional is that as I look back, I see that everything drove to really me being in this profession, but when I was making those decisions to go from role to role, it was never with a…I want to be a Digital Asset Management person and professional as the end game.
[8:29] Rather it was, accepting challenges along the career path that brought into my experience. That’s probably the best advice that I can give. It’s to not turn down opportunities on projects or even new jobs just because they don’t fit tightly within a little box.
[8:47] Use your experience, and then grow.
Henrik: [8:48] Great advice. Thanks, Bryan.
Bryan: [8:50] Anytime. I love talking about Digital Asset Management. I’d say this is really a piece of technology that people don’t realize how much it has to do with what they see on their phones, or televisions, or anything, and as we become so digital in our daily lives, be able to manage digital assets and manage that data, and really respond to marketing needs and trends.
[9:15] It’s more critical now than it was 20 years ago when we were pre‑TV, radio, and that was about it. The flexibility that the web has given us…has made our profession just as important as a software engineer or anyone of those program creators, because we have the ability to really the entire horizon when it comes to these things that we’re driving out to our customers.