It’s hard to find anyone who brags about how many departmental silos they have, but, as noted by the Keynote Panel at the Henry Stewart DAM conference this week at the New York Hilton, plenty of silos still exist in companies managing digital assets. 

The panel, “DAM and Its Future for Broadcast, Media and Entertainment,” didn’t get very far into the “future” part of the topic, mostly sampling panelists’ opinions about the role DAM systems play in their respective companies.

Going Global

The panelists’ respective companies certainly have plenty of assets to manage, not to mention related issues, primarily in entertainment and publishing. Panel chair Richard Buchanan, VP and GM of Content Services at the Comcast Media Center, noted that entertainment/publishing companies have similar problems as other enterprises. “We’re all DAM’d,” he noted.

Among other similarities, Buchanan pointed to the inclination of respectable brands to go beyond domestic. “Every brand wants to be global,” he said, which, by itself, points to a future where managing brand assets, by definition, means managing them by geographies and languages. In other words, no more national silos.

By itself, that factor already means being able to scale, he said. Buchanan referenced an unnamed Forrester study, to the effect that “DAM is moving out of its siloed past and toward integration, particularly for delivery solutions.” With so many geographies, it’s not just tracking assets but making sure the right asset reaches its destination.

Panelist Ellen Payne, Director of Editorial Operations for Hearst Magazines, briefly touched on the silos from which her company is trying to emerge. Three different DAM systems and an internal rights management system -- which is not DAM-connected -- set the stage for Hearst’s current quest for an encompassing solution.

Keynote Panel at Henry Stewart DAM conference, New York

Breadcrumbs, Pain Points

“We’ve been very siloed,” she said, such as the ones between Hearst’s print and digital sides. But, she added, “the silos are coming down.”

A key to determining their needs, she said, is understanding workflows and “always talking to a user.” She noted that “there are pain points IT doesn’t know about.”

Madi Weland Solomon, Head of Data Architecture Standards for Pearson Plc and a self-described “recovering taxonomist,” recalled when Pearson introduced DAM at an enterprise level. Up to that point, she said, the company had been managing assets in folders that their owners, and no one else, knew the paths to. 

“If you didn’t have enough breadcrumbs,” Solomon said, “you could get lost.” When DAM was introduced, many of the same users “just stuck their folders into the DAM, which made it a very expensive server.”

Understanding Content

In fact, she said, “once you open that little box of DAM,” you can transform the company, because you can transform how the company’s assets are monetized. Solomon said that, more than four years into their post-DAM era, people now understand about using DAM, personalizing content and making interoperability a standard practice.

Payne pointed to at least one tangible way DAM systems can facilitate that monetization -- making more easily discoverable the photos the company has created but not published, thus decreasing the amount of stock photos that have to be licensed.

Finding new uses for a company’s intellectual property could be one of DAM’s next big things, as asset management begins to get assists from image recognition and contextual thinking systems.

Solomon pointed out that Pearson is now “less interested in the textbook and more interested in the student” -- that is, how well the content assists the student in reaching a goal. With so much free content out there, this could be the ultimate value-add for intellectual property, and possibly DAM’s ultimate goal.