taxicab in midtown
PHOTO: Fabien Bazanegue

As a librarian, I love to share information and so I’m bringing a little piece of Henry Stewart DAM NYC to you. This year's conference, which took place May 3 to May 4 at the Hilton Midtown hotel in New York City, felt bigger and bolder than previous years, with an impressive lineup of speakers including presenters from Dell, National Geographic, Bloomberg and HBO. But it was more than the speaker lineup that was impressive. More companies filled the exhibit showroom this year as well, so many that another wing was opened up to accommodate them all.  

The buzz in the air gave a sense that maybe — just maybe — the digital asset management (DAM) industry as a whole is on the verge of something larger than the niche we’ve carved out for ourselves within MarTech (Perhaps this year, DAM really did become MarTech.)

Did you miss the biggest digital asset management conference in New York City this year? No worries, we’ve got you covered with the nine biggest takeaways. 

1. Customer-Driven DAM Products

One of the most exciting things I heard over and over at the conference was the reiteration from vendors that new features and developments were often driven by customer use-cases and requests. Of course this is something we know on the vendor side, but administrators and end-users of DAM software may not realize the power they have. So remember, change is fueled by you, the users of DAM. Make your voice heard. 

2. Start With Information Governance, Not DAM

Governance can be a scary word, right? Don’t be fooled though, you might already be practicing it today (light governance through metadata audits, controlled vocabularies, taxonomy changes vetted by the taxonomist, asset audits, locking down some metadata fields, making metadata required, etc.). A key finding voiced by the "Metadata Matters" panel was that holding information architecture and governance workshops prior to DAM implementation is always helpful.

Related Article: 5 Signs Your Taxonomy Needs a DAM Update

3. DAM Administrators Create SLAs and Share Knowledge

Margie Foster, digital asset management librarian at Dell presented a session titled, "The DAM Community of Practice at Dell." Foster brought up an excellent idea for staying on top of requests by creating a service level agreement (SLA) for the DAM team. SLAs keep teams accountable for resolving issues and requests in a timely and prioritized manner. 

An additional takeaway from this session was to keep "librarian" in your job title in your company to increase your approachability and to spread the librarian ethos: that driving force to connect people with information resources, document and share knowledge.

4. Use DAM Data for Business Intelligence

An exciting additional use case for DAM that spans industries is using DAM for business intelligence. The “Using Metadata to Drive the Future of News” session by Annette Feldman, information management architect at Associated Press, presented great insights into how to use DAM metadata and data for A/B content testing as well as for analyzing content usage and consumption within DAM and downstream from your DAM platform. DAM data can be utilized to answer some of the biggest questions your company may have.

5. Connectivity From all Angles

Integrations and connected digital ecosystems were discussed not only in sessions and conversations, but it was a hot topic among DAM vendors in the exhibit hall as well. 

6. It’s a DAM Program, Not a Project

John Horodyski, partner at Optimity Advisors, always shares some interesting tidbits. The one I clicked with the most this year was to stop calling it a DAM project.  I know I’m guilty of committing this crime, but the reasoning behind it is quite sound: A project connotes a beginning and an end, a finite amount of time. DAM is never done, so start calling it a DAM program, not a DAM project. Unless of course, your done with DAM because you have it all figured out (please share if so! ;) ).

Related Article: DAM, We Really Need You

7. Looking for a DAM Tool? Start With User Stories, Not RFP Checklists

Jarrod Gingras, analyst and managing director at Real Story Group stressed the importance of documenting your company’s unique user scenarios and stories during a session titled “How to Select the Right DAM.” Gingras recommended using those as a guiding map during vendor selection process, instead of relying on request for proposal (RFP) checklists. RFP checklists definitely serve a purpose, but user stories provide the context for how features can solve specific use-cases. This lesson applies beyond DAM as well and serves as practical advice for any software procurement endeavor.

8. Community Working Groups Make Their Presence Known

This year we saw the presence of independently organized DAM community working groups at the conference. The W3C DAM Ontology group presented a roundtable to gather additional use-cases for extending schema.org markup for digital assets, and the DAM Consortium for Blockchain hosted a full informational session and presentation at the event.

Related Article: DAM Innovation Is Finally on the Horizon: From Value Chains to Blockchains

9. Metadata AND Governance Matters, Forever and Always

In the "Metadata Matters" panel, Monica Fulvio, director of taxonomy and metadata at National Geographic shared a fun way of looking at artificial intelligence (AI) and metadata. She phrased it like this: Automatic Cake, Manual Icing. AI can save a lot of time tagging assets with metadata, but manual oversight and human governance is still required. And on one final, fun note: one person half-way raised their hand when the audience was asked if anyone actually liked tagging digital assets. And yes, it was me.

Did you attend Henry Stewart this year? I’d love to hear your biggest takeaways in the comments.