People. Priority. Process. Three big topics of discussion for digital marketing teams everywhere and the core of all presentations at this year’s Henry Stewart DAM Europe 2017 conference.
Widen was a sponsor of #DAMEU a couple of weeks ago. It was fun to see the familiar faces of DAM veterans like David Lipsey, John Horodyski, and Theresa Regli overseas, and downright awesome to be in London.
Listening to counterparts from anywhere and everywhere share their success stories about metadata, system migration strategy, and creative operations was inspiring. It also validated that all organizations face the same hurdles — like perceived value, dated interfaces, SaaS versus on-premise systems, and lack of system ownership — to make digital asset management a priority, regardless of size, business model, industry, or time zone.
Throughout the conference, several themes were trending, some rooted in the use of DAM today and others based on speculation for the future demands on DAM.
These were our favorite topics of discussion:
Use DAM for what it does best
It seems every tool claims to be the “single source of truth” and wants to be at the center of your tech stack. So what is DAM best used for? And should it be at the center of your stack?
DAM is best as an engine to power the creation, management, review, distribution, and analysis of rich media. It’s great at the center of your marketing tech stack, but only when prioritized to play that role. When adjacent technologies, like CMS or PIM, say they offer DAM (or vice versa — DAM claims to do things it really doesn’t), it causes confusion in the market and the workplace. So be aware of what’s really what and get the system(s) you need. DAM can’t, and shouldn’t, do everything.
Where does DAM live within an organization?
Digital assets impact multiple departments and channels, so a DAM solution can live in a number of different departments, like marketing, IT, creative operations, or even R&D. Wherever it lives, DAM needs to be owned, managed, and maintained. Your assets are only valuable if they’re used, and a DAM solution can only do so much without a budget and champion to support it.
So know who DAM needs to report to within your organization — the CFO, CMO, creative director, or someone else — and allocate the resources needed to give it a happy, stable home.
People are the drivers behind the tools
Sure, DAM automates the manual tasks that waste creative and marketing time. But no amount of automation is meaningful without people to man the ship. DAM systems need a good administrator to keep adoption high, to keep assets top of mind, and to make content accessible to those who need it, when they need it.
With more tools like DAM comes the need for people to embrace change and communicate with each other about content creation. In fact, the more technologies we use, the greater the need for cross-team communication and a common language across creatives, tech people, marketers, and product developers. Different tools can be the catalyst for this communication, but it needs to be led and embraced by people.
Artificial intelligence and DAM: What’s real and what’s hype?
AI is more than auto tagging. It’s about embedding actions in assets, like the ability for computers to recognize elements of an image in other images or the repeated sound waves in someone’s voice.
Just think about the user interface of Amazon’s Alexa/Echo. There isn’t one. Voice devices are considered “zero UI” because there’s no visual, it’s just a voice. But voice and visual assets together are forming a new “conversation experience” for users.
AI also includes a range of realities — virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality. The digital assets created as a result of these realities make content matter more. Is DAM there yet? We have yet to see...
Directly tied to AI is the issue of data’s ability to be empathetic. One example shared at the conference was about Facebook’s flashback posts. A man had posted about his wife’s death at a specific time, but didn’t want to be reminded about it a year later when Facebook randomly pulled it as a moment to remember via flashback.
Is it possible to teach machines the human qualities of empathy and consideration when they’re pulling data using an algorithm? Do we even want to go there?
One thing is for sure. If AI is going to be successful in the future, we’ll need to train machines to understand the brand, empathy, and nuances of different cultures and people.
Future challenges for DAM
As for the future of DAM, many challenges highlighted at the conference circled around ease of use and context. According to Filippo Catalano from Nestle Switzerland, people will soon expect DAM to meet these demands:
- Produce, store, and distribute 3-D assets
- Assemble on-the-fly content and modularized content
- Optimize content dynamically
- Remain central in the digital ecosystem
Features like video management, metadata/rights management, data analytics, and asset ingestion/migration surfaced as pain points for the neophyte DAM user as well as the seasoned DAM administrator. Everyone wants to know how to tackle these areas faster, easier, and better.
Until next year
#DAMEU was an intimate reunion of DAM leaders and learners, and a great opportunity to catch up with our awesome Widen customers across the pond. We’ll be back! But for now, we leave you with a word of advice from Creative Operations guru Clair Carter-Ginn:
“No one is going to come to you (as a creative or marketer) and say, ‘I need a DAM.’ You need to figure out how DAM will be relevant to the different people in your organization and communicate that in order to get funding and buy in for DAM.”
Go get ‘em, DAMsters!