by Reid Rousseau, Holly Boerner, and Gretchen Nadasky
The annual Henry Stewart Digital Asset Management (DAM) NY conference was held on May 6-8, 2015, and Optimity Advisors was there. After several days of talking everything metadata, taxonomy, governance, and workflow—essentially, all things DAM—here is what stood out to us:
REID ROUSSEAU: As a first-time conference attendee navigating a sea of industry experts, technology vendors and attendees from across industries, I saw the dynamics of the DAM world first hand. I decided to focus on talking to as many vendors and seeing as many system demos as possible—and at the end of the day, here is what stood out:
1) DAMs with clean, modern user interfaces that will attract users to the system by providing an intuitive, friendly experience. Often DAM users are marketers or creatives who possess a sophisticated sense of design, and they bring those expectations to the technology they’re tasked with using.
2) Strong integration with commonly used creative software. Allowing creative users to complete work in their native applications while providing seamless connections to a DAM system is becoming not just a luxury, but a requirement.
3) SaaS and Cloud vs. On-Premise solutions. While the energy seems to be trending toward cloud-based solutions, the jury is still very much out as to their long-term implications, the security risks, and asset preservation capabilities.
4) A huge market differentiator lies in systems that provide flexible workflow, approval and project management functionality in tandem with traditional DAM features. The space between an asset as work-in-progress and final, finished entity is rapidly collapsing, and the time when a DAM system could get away with functioning as a silo’d entity focused on final-state asset needs is over.
The most important takeaway is that the needs surrounding organizations’ digital asset strategies can vary immensely, and so organizations must conduct thorough requirements gathering to understand what they need from a system. I guess some of the well-established DAM truths remain firmly intact.
HOLLY BOERNER: I’ve attended the conference for many years and what struck me in 2015 was the maturity present in the presentations, panel discussions, and general conversations happening about DAM. For example:
1) Many conversations this year tilted towards the challenges of being two, five, even ten-plus years into a DAM program. There will always be a need and a place for discussing how to choose an enterprise’s first DAM system, but it is great to see the emphasis evolve toward “How to keep the program invigorated, or how to keep the system evolving along with all technology systems.”
2) Rights Management was everywhere—instead of being treated as a one-off topic, there were multiple sessions that explicitly addressed it, and it additionally popped up as a conversation point in other sessions and conversations. It is invigorating to finally see Rights Management being truly understood as integrally woven into the DAM initiative.
3) Some truths are evergreen: “You can’t underestimate the need for a Cybrarian” was a quote I heard at the conference’s start and it stuck. A DAM program without a dedicated manager and driver is one that faces serious challenges.
The DAM industry is showing its maturation and sophistication, which is thrilling to witness. I can’t wait to see what happens next.
GRETCHEN NADASKY: I found that many of our conversations at Henry Stewart focused on the ability to get funding and staff dedicated to DAM projects—whether just starting out or managing a DAM program many years in.
Garnering support requires a long-term commitment to measurement, communication and positioning the DAM as a key component of the corporate mission. To gain a place at the executive table where resources are allocated, DAM managers can employ several strategies:
1) Gather statistics demonstrating DAM success and document potential risks inherent in not supporting the initiative. Metrics can be woven into casual conversations and formal presentations to educate and build a base of enthusiasm for a DAM program.
2) Identify an advocate in senior management, and show them how the system can provide even more support for their own initiatives.
3) Study and incorporate the corporate mission statement into the DAM program’s roadmap. For example, if the organization strives to grow revenue internationally, focus on ways that the system helps to achieve those goals.
Just as the DAM manager deeply understands that the system doesn’t run itself, he or she must also be aware that institutional support isn’t a given. The place of DAM will only be assured if it is positioned as a key driver of success.
It is the responsibility of all the system’s beneficiaries to take part in its promotion—and thus its success. It was an incredibly successful few days, and we’re already looking forward to what future events will bring! See you all in London in June, Chicago in September, and Los Angeles in November!