"It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad." -- C.S. Lewis

The month of May brings with it great evidence of change. Spring's effects finally can be seen in the colorful blooms in our gardens. Everything smells better with the newfound flora. Everything feels better with the welcome change to warmer weather. And the students graduating from colleges and universities enter a world filled with new change and opportunity. Change is everywhere and we are unable to stop it. We must change, we allow it, we embrace it and let it happen.

Another great reminder of change was evident in the annual Henry Stewart DAM New York conference that took place on April 30 – May 2. For three days, DAM practitioners, professionals and vendors came together to share their wisdom, engage in vigorous debate and exhibit the latest and greatest that DAM has to provide.

With such a gathering of intellect and passion, there are always key talking points that resonate with the crowd and rise to the top of conversations. DAM issues such as metadata and rights management were there to be heard and argued by the crowd. The issue of “change” and in particular “change management” was there in force, receiving greater buzz than in previous years. Besides those who were seeking to change their old DAM to a new DAM, and others debating the conundrum of whether or not to upgrade, the idea of “change management” resonated for many for a much more holistic and enterprise point of view. Change was (and is) a topic of a much bigger degree and scale.

Change is Everywhere

The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking." -- Albert Einstein

Technological innovation results in a constantly evolving business environment. Social media is a great example of how technology and communication has created change in our work. Human beings possess an innate desire to interact and socialize. Over the past few decades, new communication technologies -- such as email, the Internet and mobile devices -- have become widely adopted. These tools allow us to communicate faster, more frequently and to a larger audience than previously possible.

Social media represents the latest evolution of communication technology and employees may have a variety of social media technology tools at their disposal. Executives are watching to determine whether corporate social media technology use is merely a passing fad or a process and business technology that will ultimately improve the bottom-line or extend reach.

In another example of present-day change, the “semantic web” allows data to be shared and reused across application, enterprise and community boundaries. This evolution of the web is changing the existing flow of information within the modern business organization transforming it into a place where, “learning with and from others encourages knowledge transfer and connects people in a way consistent with how we naturally interact.” This evolution of the modern business organization may be seen as a fulfillment of the definition of the semantic web as a conduit in data sharing thus transforming business. DAM is central to this change.

Information and all its data and digital assets has become more available, accessible and in some ways more accountable in business. We live in a big data world with so much data at our discretion and under considerable watch and scrutiny from our content creators, users and stakeholders alike. Our organizations need to change as well and not only be prepared for the change, but respond well and be comfortable with our solutions.

Change Management

I put a dollar in one of those change machines. Nothing changed." -- George Carlin

Change management is an approach to transitioning or changing people, groups of people, processes and technology to a desired, future state within an organization. The concept and practice of change management was born in the consulting world in the 1980s driven by the need to understand performance and adoption techniques to allow for greater innovation and organizational adoption methods. One of the premier researchers and thought leaders on change management, Dr. John Kotter, reminds us all that

70 percent of all major change efforts in an organization fail … because organizations often do not take the holistic approach required to see the change through. ”

Change management is a structured approach to ensure changes are made in order to achieve some form of long-term benefits. DAM is all about change: changing the way we understand what is an asset, digital and physical, in our organizations and how its value may be transcended throughout all layers of the organization. With such change, the contemporary business organization is motivated by exterior factors (e.g., competition and innovation) to adapt quicker than their competitors to avoid getting left behind.

DAM is not immune to this dynamic. As a single source of truth for assets and a digital playground upon which to collaborate and create, DAM serves a role as both a change agent and a technology always requiring change within an organization.

In order to effectively manage organizational change, an essential step is to diagnose the problem, the ability, and more importantly, the capability to change within your organization. The following best practices are good steps to follow:

  1. Recognize the change at a macro level: it’s not just a silo or a one department problem
  2. Develop the change with adjustments for what the organization needs to do
  3. Educate and communicate your organization with the change

Organizational change management aligns groups’ expectations, communicates, integrates teams and manages people training. It makes use of performance metrics, such as financial results, operational efficiency, leadership commitment, communication effectiveness, and the perceived need for change to design appropriate strategies, in order to avoid change failures or resolve troubled change projects.


Faced with the choice between changing one's mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof.-- John Kenneth Galbraith

As a refresher, DAM consists of the management tasks and technological functionality designed to enhance the inventory, control and distribution of digital assets (rich media such as photographs, videos, graphics, logos, marketing collateral) surrounding the ingestion, annotation, cataloguing, storage, retrieval and distribution of digital assets for use and reuse in marketing and / or business operations.

DAM is no stranger to change -- set your goals, define a framework and build out the capabilities now that will allow your organization to mature over time and achieve sustainable success. As so many have learned, there is more to maintaining the DAM than just maintaining the technology implementation -- you must manage the change, and the change is ongoing.

Governance helps us define and manage the change that is needed within an organization. This provides a framework to ensure that program goals are met both during implementation and for the future. Ultimately, this is the only way to manage change and mitigate risk. Governance can begin with a roadmap and measurement tools to ensure success of implementation during the first iteration. These include the regular suspects of a project charter, working committee and timelines so that governance is an ongoing practice which transitions into an operating model. And beyond the delivery of an effective ROI, active governance delivers innovation and sustained success by building collaborative opportunities and participation from all levels of the organization.

The success you have in getting big names involved in the big decisions -- and keeping them talking about DAM, making this a regular, operational discussion (not just for project approval or yearly budget reviews) --the greater the benefits from DAM your organization will have. The best way to plan for future change is to apply an effective layer of governance to your DAM program.

Change is the Future

Never, never, never, never give up." -- Winston Churchill

Data sharing and collaboration will play an important part as business rules and policies are created and / or changed in order to maximize the flow of information within an organization to demonstrate innovation. Practitioners within every organization should step back and investigate what they are doing. The practice of DAM needs to be explored in greater detail to understand how it is being used by individuals and departments across all lines within the organization.

DAM helps organizations to create knowledge, share information, develop communication, build access and promote cooperation, with an emphasis on relationship building. DAM projects can be used to foster a collaborative culture and in some instances a competitive culture in business. DAM presents many ways upon which to interact with information whether it be text, video, audio or whatever form of rich media

Robinson’s (2010) research suggests that when seeking information at work, people rely on both other people and information repositories (e.g., documents and databases), and spend similar amounts of time consulting each (7.8 percent and 6.4 percent of work time, respectively, 14.2 percent in total). Therefore, DAM as a platform may well be a more effective method in which to discover and use information within a business organization.

DAM as a single source of truth forces us to realize that there is absolute value in digital assets, their discovery, and use and reuse in our daily operations. And we know -- with certainty -- that what DAM was yesterday is not what DAM is today, and certainly will not be what DAM is tomorrow.

There can be no more reliance or absolute comfort on what was, but only the willingness and ability to recognize that change is happening and become an active participant in that change. For without such action, the risk on brand displacement, loss of intellectual property value and the fiduciary irresponsibility of not knowing what assets you have will only make it worse to move forward.

Go embrace the change. You future depends upon it.

The best thing you can do is the right thing; the next best thing you can do is the wrong thing; the worst thing you can do is nothing."  -- Theodore Roosevelt

Title image by Lissandra Melo / Shutterstock.com