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Another DAM Podcast interview with Mikako Ito on Digital Asset Management

Mikako Ito discusses 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 Mikako Ito.

Mikako, how are you?

Mikako Ito:  [0:09] Good, how are you?

Henrik:  [0:10] Great. Mikako, how are you involved with Digital Asset Management?

Mikako:  [0:14] I think I’m a little bit unique in this profession. A lot of people who manage the digital assets, may be dedicated their time 100 percent to managing their assets or creating the assets. I’m a Art Director at simplehuman.

[0:32] Then when I was appointed by CEO to investigate the DAM system, I actually didn’t know anything about the DAM system. As a designer, I wasn’t sure how this system is going to be helpful to our company.

[0:50] But now that we implemented the system, I can see that the DAM system is really useful to, not only the company like us, but design and then produce the product by design agency, or any other design related company. Actually, our company is pretty small, so the graphic design department is small.

[1:15] Then what we were doing was, we are putting everything into our company server. But as company starts to grow, we realize that, if we don’t organize these digital assets eventually it’s going to get really messy.

[1:31] One day, our CEO was the one who recognized the company was growing and so was our assets. He put me in charge of finding the solution. I did research, and then I found is there asset management system out there. Then, eventually I pick one of them, and then I implemented it.

Henrik:  [1:55] How does a designer and manufacture of kitchen, bath and beauty tools use Digital Asset Management?

Mikako:  [2:02] All the designers use the asset management system to work on their projects. Once we have the asset which is whether it’s photography that we shot, or rendering that we created, it goes to the retouchers.

[2:20] Then clean up the images and stuff, and then eventually goes up to the asset management system. Once it get in there, designer can pull any of the assets whenever we need it for whatever we need it. Marketing and the sales team also use the assets, the ones which are available to them.

[2:42] Before [DAM System], the graphic team would get constant requests from the sales and the marketing, and we were the department within the organization to send them a file. Since all the assets was in the server, and then only designer, and if you worked on that project, knows where images were, and then what the final assets are.

[3:08] Then every time sales or marketing team needed those assets, we get requests. We have to spend the time to search the image, reformat the image and then send it back to them. We are actually spending a lot of time on organizing the assets, and distributing assets.

[3:29] But once we implemented the DAM system, marketing and then sales can find the image, and then download it in any of the format that they want for themselves. Then the designer doesn’t have to spend the time to do that job for them. That was really helpful.

[3:51] The designers and then other departments of our company, use the system to find assets or archive the assets. When we are thinking of implementing the DAM system, we were wondering if we can use the system to organize, and then archive, and then transferring the files to the factory for the design files. The actual product design files.

[4:21] But design file consists of different parts, so that we found that organizing all the different parts become the one product. It’s not just a file that it creates so that they way that the DAM system organize the files, it was challenging to organize the files that make sense to using for the…to keeping, and then archiving the CAD file.

[4:52] We don’t use the DAM system for the product design file, the CAD file, but we use it for everything else.

Henrik:  [5:00] What are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with Digital Asset Management?

Mikako:  [5:04] The biggest challenge was how to structure the system, so how many catalogs we should have, and then who should have the access to which catalogs. Because of the amount of the assets we have, and then some of them are not really meant to use outside of the company usage, so that we have to create a structure that really works to the different departments.

[5:37] Then certain departments need certain assets only. So that way, accidentally the important assets [don’t] go outside of the company. By the time we implemented the system, we had already a lot of these digital assets without knowing it. To organize those, and then putting into the system the first time, was really challenging.

[6:06] The success part of it overlaps with the answer that I gave to the second question. It helped the whole company to flow, and the design department the time that we used to spend to prepare, and then create all those assets to the different departments that got really reduced.

[6:30] For example, the sales person also creates the file… it’s called planogram. It’s basically what the product will look like on the shelf. Before we were getting similar request so that every time we get these requests we have to resize all the products into the correct scale and then put next to each other on a four foot shelf.

[6:59] Then all our products how that look like on this four foot shelf, so that kind of thing was taking a lot of time for the design department. But now we created this catalog that has every SKU that are available to the sales in the correct scale.

[7:18] All they have to do is to pull all those images, and then just put it into the shelf. That thing really helped the time part of it. Another success is that we always have the most updated assets available to everybody.

[7:39] Before, different designers working in their projects, for example, one designer created this icon, and then during the process of finish that project, the designer Mike, fixed the icon. But the icon didn’t go up to the DAM system and then just lived in this person’s hard drive.

[8:04] Then other designers trying to use the icon, they might not have the most updated icon and..they might use it in a wrong way, or but now that we have system, so one designer fix something and then updated assets go uploaded to DAM system, so that always the most updated assets available to the other designers to use it.

[8:28] That really helped designers to actually could have used the wrong asset or wrong icons and stuff for the project. The number one benefit that we did get from this system was that we were be able to spend the more time to actually designing it than try to organize the assets for other people or other departments.

[8:55] Asset is always available to us, and then I was saying all the available asset is always updated the most current one. That reduced the mistake part of it too.

Henrik:  [9:10] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and people aspiring to DAM professionals?

Mikako:  [9:14] The organization is really powerful. If your digital files aren’t organized, you’re wasting so much time looking for that right file, or your team through all the assets are wasting time searching, and sending the files out, like our graphic department was used to doing.

[9:37] With DAM it helps you save the time and your company is saving money, because you’re able to be more productive. For us, it was really good time saving, and then…time is money so the more the time is saved and then everybody works efficient.

[10:03] I think that was really helpful. If someone who’s thinking about implementing DAM system or not, I think in the long run if everything is organized, and I think eventually that will make much more efficient the whole system.

[10:22] Also ,I do use the system everyday, but at the same time, I’m a designer as well. Then I feel like I’m still not…I don’t consider myself DAM professional. I feel like if you 100 percent, you do is to organize, and then manage the system, then I feel like that person might have better advice but…

Henrik:  [10:48] Thank you, Mikako.

Mikako:  [10:51] Thank you, and I’m sorry. I don’t know if I helped a lot but I just wanted to say that having the DAM system really helped our company. Hopefully, this would help someone who listens I guess.

Henrik:  [11:08] For more and this and other Digital Asset Management topics, go to For this and 160 other podcasts episodes, go to If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email me at Thanks again.

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Based on the blog post on Another DAM blog:

Written and read by Henrik de Gyor

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Another DAM Podcast interview with Joel Warwick on Digital Asset Management

Here are the questions asked:

  • How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
  • How long does it take to implement Digital Asset Management within an organization?
  • Why does it take this long to get it working within the organization? What is involved?
  • 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 Joel Warwick. Joel,
how are you?
Joel Warwick: [0:09] I’m good, and how are you?
Henrik: [0:11] I’m good. Joel, how are you involved with Digital Asset
Joel: [0:14] I’ve been consulting in this field for almost 10 years now. Primarily,
I’ve done most of my work with end-use firms, firms that are implementing DAM
in one way or another. I’ve also done some work for the technology vendors,
both in DAM and in the auxiliary space, helping them with their strategy. [0:32]
Especially as the proliferation of SAAS-based services have come out there,
DAM vendors have had a challenge figuring out how to meet the needs of hosted type
implementations while still serving firms that are looking for the on site,
enterprise implementation.
Henrik: [0:49] How long does it take to implement Digital Asset Management
within an organization?
Joel: [0:53] That’s a loaded question. It depends on how you look at what
implementation means. If we’re just talking about implementing the software,
some organizations, it can happen in a few weeks. [1:06] I would argue when I
talk about implementation, the goal that I propose with my clients is, “When are
you going to actually be able to take advantage of new and improved business
[1:20] What I mean by that is, “Why do we implement enterprise systems in the
first place?” It’s not because of some feature or function that they have. It’s because
we want to change our business processes in some way that benefits us,
whether it’s cost savings or lighting up a new revenue channel, what have you.
[1:36] In order to change those business processes, there are a lot of other
pieces, other than just implementing the software. Most of my work has been
helping clients through that. That takes a lot longer than just implementing the
software and training users on it.
[1:53] There are a lot of pieces that really have very little to do with the software.
These are issues of what I call “operational design,” which is a big catchall that
covers everything from organizational alignment, to detailed workflow planning.
[2:09] It really depends on the size and complexity of the organization. I would
argue that you’re looking at, at a minimum, a few months to be up and running,
where you say, “We used to do it this way. Now we do it this other way, with the
benefit of this new technology.”
[2:27] The technology itself doesn’t make that change happen. That’s a misconception
that a lot of people fall into. Even after doing this for a long time, I still
tend to fall into that, too. It’s so attractive to think, “We get this thing installed,
then we’ll be able to do this, this new way and it’s going to be great.”…
[2:45] Unfortunately, that change has to be programmatically implemented.
There’s a lot of upfront work that has to happen before the software actually
gets implemented. In some organizations, honestly, it takes years.
[2:59] That’s not to say that they don’t get benefit earlier on. They might get
benefit after three months or six months. But, the real change that they’re looking
for, and the ROI that they’re looking for when they decide to implement
DAM, may be a couple years out.
Henrik: [3:15] Why does it take this long to get it working within an organization?
What’s involved?
Joel: [3:23] When I talk about operational design…I’ve presented about this
quite a bit, as you know, and written articles about it as well. I’ll throw out some
components that are what people, especially an IT group, wouldn’t typically
think of as part of an enterprise system implementation. [3:41] Things like standards,
workflow design, digital rights models, organizational alignment, all the
capture and migration that have to go on, capturing assets and migrating them
from existing systems. Also, the appropriate scoping can be a real challenge in
figuring out, “What content are we going to put in this thing? What users and
what workflows are going to be included?”
[4:06] People oftentimes don’t have that much patience, especially executive
sponsors. You want to show value right up front, so you want to try to figure out,
“What content do we get in this thing now?” and, “What workflows do we light
up using this new system that are going to show some benefit, but at the same
time isn’t everything under the sun?”
[4:25] That’s how most organizations look at this. They go, “We’re going to throw
everything in here and we’re going to use it for everything.” Unfortunately,
you can’t do that all at once. Just the disruption it would cause makes business
impossible. Staging it appropriately by getting the right user and asset scope,
that’s an exercise in and of itself.
[4:44] In terms of where a lot of the time is, I would actually say that the organizational
alignment piece is the trickiest piece. That can be for a number of reasons.
It could be because you have an organization that’s very fragmented, and
you have groups that have been fairly autonomous up until this point.
[5:03] The model is, “We’re all going to start sharing stuff. We’ll be able to reuse
content.” If those groups aren’t already oriented towards that type kind of work,
there’s going to be a challenge redesigning those business processes.
[5:16] Sometimes it’s not political, at all. It’s just that the groups don’t know that
much about each other, or they’re sharing very little content and there’s an
expectation that that’s going to change overnight. We know how organizations
are. It doesn’t matter what the change is, that type of fundamental operational
change isn’t going to happen overnight.
[5:35] But the most important piece is actually having people working on that
specific problem, going in and understanding the workflows of both groups,
looking at where they interact, designing those interaction points and in particular
the standards, the policies, and the practices that have to change.
[5:51] Just to give you a very specific example, a lot of times let’s say that there’s
a print group, some kind of print publications, whether it’s marketing or publishing,
and there’s the web group. They say, “Why doesn’t the web group have
access to all the images that the print group has? They might as well. We’ll
figure out the rights issues and whatnot.”
[6:13] But the thing is, the web group has not been acquiring their content.
Suddenly, they’re being told, “You have to go look at the print group’s images
first before you go off and buy your other images.” What’s the policy going to
? This is where you could get into a political issue. Even if it’s not political, you
still could just get into an issue of, “This isn’t the right content for us.”
[6:33] Someone actually has to do an assessment of whether that policy is going
to work. Then, once you’ve established it, there’s the actual enforcement of the
policies. Is this going to be a really hard rule where they really can’t go off and
buy new images as they have been? Or is it going to be more flexible as they
figure out how to do it? It’s just one specific example, but you can imagine in a
lot of organizations that that’s not a minor issue.
[6:59] Because it can get political, it involves people in those organizations at
more senior levels than just what you would look at normally for an implementation.
The head of the business unit, the print business unit for instance, probably
has to talk to the head of the web operations or the online unit to figure out
where that balance is going to be.
[7:20] That’s one of the reasons that involving the right people upfront in getting
that organizational support is really, really important because when you’re
way down the road in a project and you’re trying to figure out the metadata
model so you can get the system turned on in two months, that’s not the time
to run into that snag and say, “Uh-oh. We have to involve all these more senior
people” because you know what happens then.
[7:42] It goes into a bucket of conflict resolution. The solution that comes out of
it may not be the best one for the system or for the operations. It may just be
that someone’s trying to put out this fire so to speak. So getting them engaged
upfront is really important.
Henrik: [7:57] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and
people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Joel: [8:00] I think the challenges right now is that the space is so fragmented
and complex, even in nature. When people say “digital media,” that’s all over
the map right now. I think that’s the real trick, is to understand the space, who
the players are both in terms of the technology but also firms that can help
organizations whether it’s consulting firms or system integration firms or a professional
services group from the vendors themselves. [8:29] Then, understanding
how to leverage those without just dumping tons and tons of money into it
because that model just doesn’t work anymore. The big consulting firms come
in and say, “We’re going to hang out with you for two years, and it’s going to
cost $2 million.” Nobody has budgets for that kind of thing anymore, which is
probably all for the better.
[8:47] There are a lot of opportunities for people that have some experience like
yourself, managing content operations if you want to call it that, or digital media
services organizations to go out again to help other firms if that’s what they’re
looking to do.
Henrik: [9:01] Thanks, Joel. For more on Digital Asset Management log onto Another DAM Podcast is available on Audioboom,
iTunes and Tech Podcast Network. Thanks again.

Listen to Another DAM Podcast on Apple PodcastsAudioBoomCastBoxGoogle Podcasts, RadioPublic, Spotify, TuneIn, and wherever you find podcasts.

Need Digital Asset Management advice and assistance?

Another DAM Consultancy can help. Schedule a call today