Listen to Another DAM Podcast interview with Ralph Windsor on Digital Asset Management
(Duration – 13:17)
Here are the questions asked:
How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
What are Digital Asset Management Open Specifications?
What are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with Digital Asset Management?
What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Henrik de Gyor: 00:00 This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with Ralph Windsor. Ralph, how are you?
Ralph Windsor: 00:08 Hi Henrik. How are you?
Henrik de Gyor: 00:11 Good. Ralph, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
Ralph Windsor: 00:15 Yeah, that’s a good question. I’ve been doing DAM for about 25 years now. if you can believe, originally when I first started in this, I was a freelance multimedia software developer. This is sort of back in the days of multimedia CD-ROMs in the mid-nineties. I had a client around that time there was a photo library and they wanted a searchable catalog of all their images with a lightbox where you can select favorites and so on. And I built that for them. And then I had a few other similar sort of clients, so smaller, medium-size stock media libraries. They wanted the same kind of thing. That progressed later. We had design agencies and some enterprise clients. We wanted what used to be called corporate style guidelines, which is where basically that like a logo, print artwork, a key photos, people put all that onto a CD-ROM and instead it’s sort of like early forerunners of the kind of enterprise DAMs that you get these days.
Ralph Windsor: 01:22 And then around 2000, we were mainly doing web-based catalogs. Most of the clients were corporate and we were essentially looking to build in house media libraries rather than kind of yeah, going to stock video libraries and are there around that time we’re still doing offering all the sorts of services. So developing the software, doing scanning, because a lot of the images were still non-digital at that time. Sometimes managing digital asset libraries and also consulting, which is a big part of the service that needed to be provided then. And now I would argue also around 2012, we sold off the software side of the business to another vendor. We’re interested in taking that on for their own platform. And we focus now entirely on consulting since things like managing DAM implementations, vendor selection, metadata analysis, troubleshooting. We usually get asked to participate across the whole sort of range of, yeah, the DAM delivery life cycle you might say. And the thing I’ve probably worked on, I work this out, about 120 unique projects and each one of them has, yeah, I’ve learned something new from each one of them. So yeah, there’s a fair bit, yeah. In terms of my involvement with DAM, it’s pretty much defined my professional life you might say.
Henrik de Gyor: 02:52 Ralph, What are Digital Asset Management Open Specifications?
Ralph Windsor: 02:56 Yeah. No, that’s not a good question. there’s been a lot talk about standards in the DAM over the years. Various initiatives kind of come and gone tend to go anywhere because there isn’t really the kind of commercial motivation for the vendors to make the products work together. And the other sort of participants don’t really have the time or necessarily the inclination to make things happen. I know that the DAM Foundation, when that was still going, they set up this thing that the 10 core characteristics, I believe that was around 2014 and that’s not actually a bad first attempt at some sort of standard to work to. And it does cover the basics. But one thing I notice as you go through this towards the latter half of it, some of the areas of it get quite vague. So you’ve got sections like administrative capabilities, which are sort of quite broad and open to interpretation.
Ralph Windsor: 03:59 And there’s other things about being able to handle many types of files, which isn’t particularly a unique feature. I just kind of got the feeling there as they were coming up with this they maybe had the realization that this is quite a deep and complex sort of subject and just the fact that, you know, there are 10 characteristics rather than five or four or something. It gives you a clue that this is sort of an in-depth subject that doesn’t lend itself very well to a kind of static list so to speak. And just following on from that. Yeah, there’s things like APIs, reporting, audit trials…they’re not actually addressed by the 10 core, which I think they were aware of DAM Foundation and there was maybe an expectation that they might add those in later on.
Ralph Windsor: 04:56 But obviously the DAM Foundation’s not around anymore. So that doesn’t happen. The way I looked at it was this is less like a kind of fixed list or list of sort of characteristics. And it was more like something like an open specification, a functional specification of what a DAM system might be would be something that would be more appropriate just because of the fact that if it’s open, anybody who’s involved in the DAM community can in theory, contribute and comment on it and participate. And also cause it’s open-ended if there is new functionality becomes important in DAM systems, like some of the areas that I’ve mentioned or even if it’s simply just a missed off, it’s quite easy to develop those and it’s far more organic and dynamic as well. So, yeah, that that’s one of the things we’ve been looking at is I can open specification for DAM systems that you can benchmark when is against that can kind of grow and evolve as the industry does.
Ralph Windsor: 06:02 Obviously there are going to be caveats with it just like there are anything else. Just cause the system maybe ticks all the functional boxes doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to be superior to another one because things like usability and so on. And there’s the whole question of how to interpret whether or not a system has the functionality where it doesn’t. But yeah, open specification seem to be more suitable as a framework for evaluating and assessing DAMs. going forward then was we’ve got with the, the current initiatives, which were, were good at the time, but I think they’re becoming less fit for purpose than they were when they were originally envisaged.
Henrik de Gyor: 06:48 Ralph, what are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with Digital Asset Management?
Ralph Windsor: 06:53 I think on the challenges side, there are two of them. The first would be user adoption and the second one would be interoperability. Just taking the user adoption first. I’m persuading as you know and we both participated in the webinar at the end of last year on user adoption with Lisa Grim, Ian Matzen and Frank De Carlo. What we talked a lot about a lot of these issues, but yeah, getting people to actually use a DAM once it’s been implemented and set up and so on remains one of the biggest challenges. I think that that affects everybody across, across the industry. it’s almost, it’s kind of chicken and egg conundrum. If you’ve got an organization where the DAM gets widely adopted, then it kind of almost, it generates a spark which maintains interest in it and a lot of buzz and activity and it becomes kind of self-sustaining.
Ralph Windsor: 07:57 but if you don’t get that right, then it never actually touches people’s imagination and it almost seems like it doesn’t matter what you do, it doesn’t actually get taken up. I think I’ve, I’ve mentioned this, made this comparison a number of times before. It really is DAM user adoption is a lot like a kind of sales and marketing activity and there’s definitely a lot of similarities between those sorts of activities with adoption and getting people to take up the DAM. So that’s, that’s one of the main challenges and I think that that’s always going to remain the case as well. yeah, so certainly on that side, the other big challenge has been interoperability. I was talking about standards earlier and basically, there aren’t our interoperability standards in DAM and on top of that there are hundreds, literally hundreds of systems.
Ralph Windsor: 08:54 Where this really becomes a challenge is it’s less about two DAM systems talking to each other. Although that does come in, it’s more where you’ve got third-party component that has to integrate a DAM with something else like a web content management system or you just want to build some plugin. Some functionality is going to extend upon a DAM to develop it in a way that the vendor didn’t envisage. If you one of these sort of tool vendors or you want to integrate with something, you’ve got a hundred products which you potentially got to develop a component for. Then what happens then is that the developers of those tools kind of have to make a choice about which ones they’re going to support, which ones are not. And profile, you know, using numbers and all kinds of things like that.
Ralph Windsor: 09:43 And, and I think yeah, interoperability, yeah. Is a big challenge for this asset management right now. And in terms of the successes, it’s almost like the flip side of, of the interoperability point. I think a lot of people now have, I’ve realized I’m certainly in the last six or seven years. I’m the integration and this whole digital asset supply chain piece which is coming in now is really important. And the, the advantages of being able to integrate and connect DAM’s, we’ve lost different systems and put your DAM’s system kind of like at the heart of the enterprise in terms of its, its role as a kind of media construct content hub. That’s been a massive success. That’s really what’s kind of keeping them in the game as an enterprise technology at the moment. So yeah, those would be my three or my two top 10 challenges and and top success.
Henrik de Gyor: 10:46 And Ralph, what advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Ralph Windsor: 10:52 Yeah. This is quite a broad-based one. I think to be a successful professional digital asset manager, you’ve really got to be self-reliant perhaps more so than the many other roles. You’ve got to take on a lot of different activities. They’re all quite different from Italia, quite unique terms of the skills that chances are you’re probably not going to have a team. And even if you have, it’s going to be a very small one. So, yeah, you’ve definitely got to be a self-starter or one of these people who’s prepared to learn a lot of different stuff and kind of get on with it without other people kind of yes, sort of coming along and spoon-feeding you or helping you. So the work kind of covers all sorts of different subjects. You’ve got to be a bit of a technical expert, you’re going to have very strong metadata skills.
Ralph Windsor: 11:44 I [have] at least an understanding of library science and some of the best digital managers I’ve come across all got MLIS library science qualifications. I talked earlier about sales and marketing knowledge for you getting people to adopt DAM systems. And there’s, there’s an element of that as well. You’ve got to be a bit of a kind of marketer and you’ve got to be constantly demonstrating to your senior management though that DAM and what you do does generate huge amounts of value for the organization. So there’s all those sorts of skills that have to get thrown into the mix. And I think if you really need to be as a professional, digital asset manager you’ve got to be honest with yourself and look at where you’re strong, where you’re weak, and if there are areas that you’re weak at, then you have to work on those. Yeah, keep your skills and the knowledge up to date. And if I make a plug here, I would obviously recommend you look at publications like DAM News and also, yeah, the DAM section on CMSwire and stay up to date with what’s going on in the industry so you can learn a lot more and, and develop your expertise as your career progresses.
Henrik de Gyor: 13:02 Great. Well, thanks Ralph.
Ralph Windsor: 13:04 Thank you Henrik. Thanks for the opportunity.
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