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Another DAM Podcast interview with Nick Felder on Digital Asset Management


Henrik de Gyor: This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today, I’m speaking with Nick Felder. Nick, how are you?

Nick Felder:  I’m good, I’m good. Great to be here.

Henrik de Gyor:  How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?

Nick Felder: I’m probably a very non-traditional, adherent proponent, advocate of digital asset management. My background is production. Here, at Coca-Cola, I’m the global head of film and music production for the entire enterprise, all territories and all brands. I really come at it from a user standpoint of the person in charge of making the stuff that’ll go into the DAM, and also the person who would use the stuff that he would take out. I’m kind of coming at it from a much more practical standpoint.

I do not have an IT background. I do not have a technical background. I’ve learned a boatload about both of those along the way. That’s how I found my way into this space in really helping the company globally, Coca-Cola globally, move forward, digitize its processes and get on capable platforms that can be deployed worldwide, right? We’re not looking at Europe has one, North America has another, South America has a third, you know, an individual company in South America has a fourth, that kind of thing. Keeping us all in the same platform.

Henrik de Gyor: Nick, how does the world’s largest beverage company use Digital Asset Management?

Nick Felder: It’s a really good question, because it has evolved over the years. Our first foray into digital asset management was mostly about distribution and getting assets from one part of the world to another. I should say probably the single word that describes the strategy, really underlines everything we do, is reuse. It’s all about reuse for us. Reuse of work is where the productivity comes from, where the efficiency comes from, where the speed to market comes from and that goes across all brands, all channels, all methodologies really. Everything needs to turn into everything. That is the mantra we use around here.

If I take a still image that was originally intended for out of home and it ends up on my phone, it may end up being a digital image or at least being distributed on a digital platform, but that doesn’t change what it is. Inherently, it is still an image with rights, if there are people in it, frames, resolution, this kind of thing. That mantra of reuse really, really is the main thing, if not the only thing, the company is really looking for in doing that. That means distribution globally, all media, movie media, still image media, audio and interactive, that means being able to do that with rights management components.

Parallel to the DAM system, we have a global rights management system where we’re able to pay, actually extend the usage rights of any work that got made anywhere in the world, so that any other market, anywhere in the world, can reuse it if it wants to. We’ve got a way of paying those rights’ holders reliably in their currency, in their market, globally. Actually unlocking that was really the key, the hidden key, to standing up a viable enterprise-wide DAM platform. It’s got to be transactional. People are going to reuse stuff around the world. Once they can reuse it, they always need to adapt it.

As they adapt it, change out their packaging, change out their logos, change out their branding, however they need to tag it before they put it on air, because that’s where the rubber hits the road, and then reloading that adapted version back into the DAM, so we have a parent-child structure set up to accommodate that. Everything gets associated with the initial core created unit that was made. Probably the last piece I’ll add to that, in the reuse thing is … The other piece of reuse is not just reusing the thing as the thing it was made for, so again if I made a piece of out at home and it gets adapted, another market to be reused as more out of home, that’s fine.

I think if we approach this stuff more … If we tag it and bag it, right, going into the DAM, we can reuse it more like a commodity. Footage, images, audio, it’s really just a commodity. We try to think of it like lumber, where you can remake anything out of it that you want. Here’s some footage of a Coke and meals, that’s interesting. You’re really just looking for some beach … A still image for a beach thing that you’re doing on a web-related platform. If you can … If that moving footage was captured and stored at a high enough resolution, and there is indeed a beach shot while you’re eating food in the Coke and meals spot on the beach, you can still it. You can grab it. You can reframe it, and then you can reuse that image however you want. You can even frame out the people, don’t get involved with rights issues.

It’s all that reuse for what I described initially, and then the last piece is really approaching it like a commodity. That commodity aspect has been mind-bending for a lot of associates around the world. Our agencies tend to understand it much better when we direct them to the DAM and say, “Go look for this. Go look for that. You can find the images you need to stand up whatever application, microsite, whatever social conversation you’re trying to put forward.” Just being able to approach it like a commodity has just provided a lot of freedom.

Henrik de Gyor: It sounds like reuse is the main way to get the maximum return on investment to your point.

Nick Felder: That’s the ROI. That’s the only ROI that I’m really judged on here and so far, so good. Fingers crossed.

Henrik de Gyor: Excellent. Nick, what are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with Digital Asset Management?

Nick Felder: Wow. You know, it’s also a really good question. To be incredibly practical and non-BS about it, I think, at the end of the day, it really all boils down to the user experience. At no point, at least in my travels and really in everybody I’ve ever spoken to, at no point will you ever be in a position to get senior management or budget holders to dive into the details the way you need to dive into the details, and work out all the parameters that need to be worked out for the thing to work. Authentication, permissions, etc, etc, etc, all that stuff that makes it work the way it does, people are just going to look at it like “does search work?” If I put in some terms and I get some awesome results, excellent. It works.

If I put in terms and I get wildly results, or conflicting results or all the rest of it, it doesn’t work and thumbs down. As far as successes, I mean it’s one of those things where like all the homework that … It’s like good comedy. Actually that’s a better metaphor. Doesn’t matter how much research you do, doesn’t matter where you set the location, who you cast, all the rest of that, it’s did I laugh? If you laughed, then it’s funny. If you don’t laugh, it’s not funny and it’s really that way for digital asset management as well, at least in my experience.

The main challenge is always the return on investment. I described ours previously as reuse. That may not be, and I actually know in a lot of the markets, that’s not necessarily the ROI that people are after but that’s certainly ours. I think just being clear, it’s not complicated. Man, I’ve seen some cases studies where things get so involved and you can just tell there were like three, five different consultants brought in. The language is confused. The outcome is confused. The measurement and the metrics are confused. Keep it simple, keep it tight. Give yourself an easy to judge against premise to the point where even if the numbers don’t necessarily add up, everybody can feel it in their gut, right? That things are moving forward, that things are now happening reliably, consistently and that use is growing amongst whatever your user groups are.

Clear, simple, easy to understand ROI. I think a lot of times, budget holders and super senior management, I’m going to use a bad word here, but see a lot of ‘bullshitery’ around technology that goes this deep, because it’s not familiar to them. They feel like they might be being hoodwinked. If you can keep it in common, normal, or regular, plebeian language, English or whatever your native tongue is, just keep it simple. You can go a lot further towards winning people’s hearts. Avoid corporate speak, avoid tech speak. Just keep it real, and you can go a lot further. I broke my pencil trying to stand up a few versions of DAM before I got my first one off the ground, so I can speak to that pain firsthand.

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

Nick Felder:  I’ll talk to the aspirationals first. I would say probably the easiest, again things that I learned the hard way, which is that, from my experience here, it’s not all about senior management sponsorship. That’s a piece of it, and it’s not all about massive consensus on the worker bee level. You need both. If I can give any advice to anybody trying to get into this space or struggling in this space, it’s to work both those angles at the same time.

Presentations, videos, messages, experientials, hands-on trial, whatever you need to do for senior management, and the same thing probably couched very, very differently, so strategic messaging for seniors and much more tactical, demonstrable, how this will make your day better kind of messaging for the worker bees. Working from the bottom up and the top down, so that there is a mix of strategic messaging and tactical messaging, strategic benefits and tactical benefits that are clearly being demonstrated in parallel, I think that’s the path. One will always point to the other and say, “Yeah. That’s all great. That’s awesome up at 30,000 feet but how does it really … Where does the rubber meet the road? How does it really work?”

If you figure out really how does it work, you’re going to get the exact opposite. That’s awesome, but what’s the strategic play here for bringing the country or the region, the territory, if not the planet, together onto a single platform. Approach both, and I think you probably have your, simultaneously, and you probably have your best chance for success, your best chance for winning.

Advice to existing DAM professionals, this with a smile, I’m not sure I can give much. I think most DAM professionals have probably struggled through a very, very, very long road. They already know where they are. Sometimes there’s not a lot of talking to them and, again I say that with a smile, I’m barely a DAM professional coming from the production side. I would simply say some of the developments in the last 18 months in the industry, going towards semantic graph databases and, yeah, neural networks and machine learning, all the buzz words that we’re hearing around the industry right now, but there’s real stuff in there that can toss out real, tangible benefits that were almost science-fiction four and five years ago.

It’s like, “Yeah, that’s nice. That’s just not happening in the real world in my lifetime.” Lo and behold, it’s happening and that’s great, at a consumer, or rather at a commercial grade level, and that’s great. Just stay on top of your tech.

Henrik de Gyor: Thanks, Nick.

Nick Felder: Yeah, thank you. Thank you very much.

Henrik de Gyor: For more on this, visit If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email me at Thanks again.

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Another DAM Podcast interview with John Dougherty on Digital Asset Management


Here are the questions asked:

  • How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
  • How do you figure out the business value of Digital Asset Management for your organization?
  • What advice would you like to share with DAM Professionals and people aspiring to become DAM Professionals?


Henrik de Gyor: [0:01] This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset
Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with John Dougherty.
John, how are you?
John Dougherty: [0:09] Hi, Henrik. Nice to be with you today.
Henrik: [0:11] You, too. John, how are you involved with Digital Asset
John: [0:15] I’ve been involved for a number of years. I was part of the original
committee that our CEO convened to do a top bottom assessment of our technology.
Helped by an outside company, DPCI, we did that. We decided that
one of the things that we needed to do is to acquire an enterprise-wide DAM.
[0:33] Then I was put in charge of the workgroup task with choosing the DAM
technology. We ended up choosing North Plains TeleScope, which we then piloted
in 2006, and went ahead and implemented in 2007. I was in charge of the
implementation in change management teams, and finally in charge of ongoing
operations. This was also part of my responsibility for Content Management
Systems in general.
Henrik: [0:55] How do you figure out the business value of Digital Asset
Management for your organization?
John: [1:00] Henrik, I’m so glad that you put that in terms of business value and
not ROI , because I think a lot of organizations rush to the ROI , stepping over
qualitative advantages. In my opinion, you start with the qualitative advantages,
and then you conclude with the quantitative advantages. [1:17] You figure out
how a DAM can improve the organization. How it can strengthen it. How it can
add core competency. Eventually, what you end up with is lots of different avenues
for savings. But, I think if you lead with that, it makes a mistake, because
then the focus is, “How many jobs are we going to save?”
[1:36] The translation to the people you’re trying to implement DAM with is,
“How many people can we get rid of?” I think that’s not where you want to be
when you’re assessing the value of a DAM.
[1:45] In terms of discovering value, I’m a very big proponent of leading with use
cases. I think that working out with each business unit, and each part of each
business unit. A set of use cases, a story, if you want, on how this DAM is going
to be used.
[2:02] How are you, exactly, going to achieve something that that group wants
to achieve, whether it’s authentication opportunity, or greater flexibility in their
workflow. Whatever their goal is, how are you going to actually use the DAM
to do that?
[2:17] I think by leading with use cases, it really keeps you grounded in reality. It
keeps you focused on service to the people that you’re talking with. The beauty
of it is that half your implementation and half your change management is done
before you’ve even purchased the system.
[2:34] I think leading with use cases really help to uncover business value, to document
that well, and to make sure that you, in fact, are able to realize it.
Henrik: [2:43] Once you have those business cases, is there some kind of way of
measuring that value?
John: [2:48] Certainly. There’s a lot of different ways to measure value. One
way you can certainly do it is in terms of greater efficiency that you’ve achieved.
Operations that may have taken a long time, you’re able to quantify that you’re
post DAM or even in the middle of a pilot, that you’re able to achieve certain
savings in terms of efficiency. [3:11] I would argue also for getting the people
with whom you develop the use cases to assign a value, both quantitative and
qualitative, to the achievement of the use cases. How well you achieve the use
case then starts to have a monetary value and a quantitative value.
[3:29] Independently of that, I think you also need to have the active participation
of the finance team in having models that will satisfy them that are otherwise
being achieved. That may cut across the use cases in the sense that it
provides a reality check on the model that you use going into it. I think that for
each organization, how you do that independent analysis is going to be somewhat
different, but it’s going to be based certainly on measurable outputs.
Henrik: [4:04] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and
people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
John: [4:09] First of all, if you’re part of the team that’s choosing a DAM, I would
say one thing is focus on key features. Don’t just create a huge long laundry
list of 752 features that you think are going to be in there. Because you quickly
get lost among the forest even if you do a careful job of vetting those features,
weighing them, and giving them importance. Too large a list will just muddy
the waters in my opinion and certainly, in the use cases I talked about. [4:44]
I think for choosing, a really good thing to do is when you’ve concluded on a
system and you’ve worked out a deal with a vendor, possibly an implementation
partner and possibly others that will be involved in the process, draft a simple
statement. Have the team draft a simple statement that says, “This is what we
think we are buying. This is what the DAM that we are purchasing includes in
plain language.” Because that’s a reality check that the vendor can use and
everyone involved can use to basically say, “Is our understanding the correct
[5:27] What I’ve found is when you do that, what sometimes pops out of there
is that there are misunderstandings. Things that are optional that you’re assuming
that are not, and things that have not been accounted for in the plan that
people assume have been accounted for.
[5:41] Other advice I’d say, be honest with yourself. It’s very easy to delude
yourself with wishful thinking if you’re trying to sell something, if you’re trying to
make a case for something. If you’re relentlessly honest with yourself and let the
evidence lead.
[5:59] So if you have a hunch, if you think you know something, try to find the
best available source, either qualitative or quantitative. That may be people
that really know that subject matter or a body of information that you can get
at that, will substantiate your hunch. Just don’t give into wishful thinking. Don’t
delude yourself.
[6:19] I’d say respect the expertise of others. Often, DAM projects are led by
information technology, and properly so. But there’s going to be a lot of people
whose expertise is needed who may not know the right terms or the right
frameworks or think about it in the most sophisticated way. But you have to respect
their expertise because not only will their expertise be needed, but you’ll
miss things if you don’t make sure that you encompass that expertise.
[6:49] Something I wish I had done more in the implementation that I did is look
for bright spots. There’s going to be groups that just take to it really well, that
they’re off and running. You can really leverage those bright spots.
[7:04] When you get a bright spot, figure out why it’s a bright spot. Why does
that work? What is it particularly that is successful about that? Then use that to
bring up the success rate in the rest of the tasks that you’ve got.
[7:21] I think focusing steadily on what improves your colleagues’ lives, aesthetics
and convenience matter. You wouldn’t want to condemn someone to live in a
terrible apartment. The DAM that you’re putting in is going to be part of their
lives, and it needs to be a welcomed part of their lives. I think a steady focus on
what improves your colleagues’ lives is a great thing.
[7:49] Then, lastly, I would say be prepared to do a two-year overhaul. Almost
all DAMs have significant problems in their first implementation. Be ready to do
a top-down review. Then attack those faults and build that into your plan that
you’re going to need an overhaul in two years.
Henrik: [8:10] Thanks, John.
John: [8:11] All right, Henrik. Thank you.
Henrik: [8:13] For more on Digital Asset Management, log onto Another DAM Podcast is available on Audioboom,
Blubrry, iTunes and the Tech Podcast Network. Thanks again