Masters of Content
Masters of Content

Episode · 1 year ago

Asset Management: Choosing the Right DAM for Your Needs


Is your digital asset management system (DAM) really working for you?

It's a question that many content teams ask themselves.

Another one: how do you even know which DAM solution is right for you?

In this episode, host Josh Van Dyk and Chris Leaman , VP Solution Architecture at Emmsphere Plus, set out to answer those questions and more.

We also discuss:

- The challenges around digital asset management protection

- Technical challenges like performance issues

- Intangibles to consider

- Getting approval for a DAM

Reach out to Chris at

For the entire interview, tune in on Apple Podcasts , Spotify , or wherever you get podcasts. 

Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for Masters of Content in your favorite podcast player.

Welcome to masters of content, where we discussed the experiences and ideas behind what's working in the marketing, content and creative operations space. Here you'll discover new insights from thought leaders with compelling stories about brand management, content production, new insights surrounding the digital customer experience and more. And now let's dive in. Welcome back to the masters of content podcast. I'm your host, Josh Van Dyke, and I am thrilled to have with me Chris Leman. Chris, welcome to the POD. How are you feeling today? Feeling good. Thanks for having me. Excited to be on. I love it. I love it for our listeners who don't know what ams for your pluses, maybe you could give them a little bit of flavor on what the company does. Yeah, thanks. We are an end to end provider. We work with a couple of different damn solutions, so we are able to do everything from consulting to implementation, to support, managed services, librarian services, so really an end to end around a damn solution that you're that you either have installed or something that you're looking to install right on. That's great. That's great. And on our personal note, I've known Chris for several years, by about a three or four years, and he hails from the Great State of Wisconsin, known for its beer as well as for its sausages and cheese in sometimes cheese in a sausage. But you know, one of the things that I also know about Chris's that he's a big bourbon lover. Chris, how many bottles of Bourbon do you have right now? I have around two hundred or so at the house right and in any favorites in there lately have been really like in the Elijah Craig barrel proof, so I was keep trying to find those right on. I'm a big fan of the Eagle Rare. I have a hard time finding it so cool. Well, you know, Chris and I actually recently had a discussion on like, you know, is someone's digital asset management system really working for them? We run into a lot of companies and we talked a lot of people and oftentimes they have similar challenges that really signal out growth right and so I said, Hey, let's let's do pot around this, let's let's talk about this, and there are clearly some common insights and common questions that team should be asking themselves so that then they procure in terms of digital asset management is the right one and they're not just getting mowed by some sort of sexy demo. So we started to outline some some major areas of common challenges and we kind of broke it down into three sections. Ask Management, protection, technical challenges and some intangibles. Right. And so some of you are some of our listeners right now, Chris, probably you know, they range the scope of they have a damn, is using Google drive or dropbox or whatever, our local filestore system, or they you know, they have a damn, but they're already seen two years into this and we need to procure something, you know, in the next year. So, you know, dying into asset management. In protection, some of the common challenges that you and I've seen a bit is these you know, searching and findability of assets. Right, they know that seems really simple and at the core of it, but it's there's more to it in terms of the technical background. Maybe you could share with our listeners a little bit more about that. Yeah, really, if you can't find your assets, either through whatever type of search they have, you can't find it, it doesn't do any good to have it in the system. So really what you're going to want to look for is what kind of search technologies do you have in the background? Is it just a standard database? Is it a graph database? Is it relational? How can you be able to find all this different information within there? Along with that, what kind of searches can you do? Are you stuck with just specific, define searches? Can you do quick searches, detail searches, experts searches? You can build up all the different fields that you want? Are you limited to the specific fields that are there? And then, on top of that too, are you able to search within the content of the assets? So like a PDF, text word in design files, can that text content be scraped and added into your searches so that you're not only just searching against keywords or other Metadata, you're actually searching the content within their two to get different results? Yeah, that's massive.

They can think of like Oh, I can search for a keyword or a Metadata, but being able to a line within a PDF is pretty huge. Full text search is a great thing to be able to ask for, you know, with that next procurement. You know, another thing that you know, you and I talked about, is kind of lack of unisation of your EPI sets. Can you utilize them? Are Utilizing them properly? Are you know they have proper traceability? Maybe you could expand on that for our listeners. Yeah, it's like the second step from the SEARCHABILI and findability. Can you see where things are being used? Can you be able to find things quickly, like? Can you quickly see, like what's been downloaded, what's been exported, where they've been used? What channels have they've been pushed you? They've been pushed out to your web? Are they used in print, all those different things, and then also beyond that, can you actually see specifically where an acid is easily? I remember back working with coals department stores. We ran into this problem. They had to find a disclaimer, so we built a disclaimer database for them so that acid will actually be reused over and over so you can click out it see everywhere it is. Back in the day they had to go through the old printed books and actually see which one was there, make sure the right one was used or not, and help you with all kinds of legal issues by doing that. So being able to have a damn that allows you to quickly see where things are used saves you all kinds of time and headaches. Yeah, I know that. That's that's massive and being able to reuse it man that the time savings on that is just great for any corporate executive be able to say, Hey, we implemented this and look at look at the results, right. You know, one of the things I saw, I see a lot of, is this taxonomy need. Right. So, is the taxonomy flexible? Does it align with Your Business taxonomy's allowed? There's a lot of, you know, dam's out there that only have they have a very rigid a taxonomy and if you pro you know, if you if you acquire another company or you introduce another business unit in the Mick, they may have a different taxonomy. Need and so you need to be able to have multiple taxonomies or, addition to that, have a flexible taxonomy. One of the things that I've see is that, like business, needs change over time, right. Anybody that's worked for a company for two or three years starts to see that. So is that taxonomy rigid or is it flexible? You know, one of the things I we see a lot of, and I'm laughing because it seems boring, but it's actually crucial and everybody's talking about now is reporting. So you know under that kind of APP Today and Protection Section e and reporting, and share a little bit with our listeners around things they should be looking for with the dam in terms of reporting. A. Reporting is huge and seems like everybody wants something and everybody has different needs within there. So when you're looking at reporting, you need to see like, okay, we have some of these reports that came out of the box, but maybe our needs are all different. Can you extend those reports that are specifically that come with the system, or are you kind of just stuck with what's there because maybe your metadat is different or your needs are different? Can you customize those reports? Can you create new ones that will be specific for you, even if they're just hardcoded within the system? How easy is that able to be done? But it's even better than that. Is like our users able to create on the fly reports. So like you can run a search, choose much columns you want and export that out to excel or even if it ties into another modules in there. And having this reporting capabilities were really huge, so you can check track trends and be able to report up to management, say like Hey, you can see that we're running out of issue. were running into issues with these different things and this is what we why we need to look at another system. You know, the one of the big things is I think people get kind of mood and reading on the front end right where they see some cool auto a box report and then they procure the damn and there is much more than the out of the box reports that are there and then they go well, that was cool, but I really need those. So I think what you're bringing really mass will to say, Hey, what's beyond what I'm seeing here today right? Well, on the asset management protection, awesome stuff.

There are some technical challenges that we talked about as well in the past that I think are really relevant and one of which we see a lot of with prospects and clients has performance issues, right, and you know, can a great kind of question to ask around that is is how are you mitigating those performance issues? You know, can the system scale during peak times? Can it do it dynamically during those peak times of a distributed server network? And I know a lot of dam seeing, especially the letter wait wants don't have that. You know, you're sitting in Wisconsin I'm sitting in Los Angeles, if the server sitting over there, maybe even on the east coast, you might not have a leg, but I may right and maybe if we had a colleague in Australia they'd even have a larger leg. And so making sure that you're not getting that spinning beach ball where you're going. My Gosh, can't even this is so annoying. I even want to use this system. It's so slow. And you know, another big thing, you know, you and I talked about this a lot, is it's is. Who's responsible for that performance? Right? Is it is a vendor. So really defining roles on who's responsible for that. Another thing that we see a lot on common challenges and is these archival needs. Right in a lot of teams are procuring damn simply just for archival and some of them say we want it for active an archival, but these were archival retention and storage needs. Maybe you could shut some light on that for our listeners. Yeah, this one is one of those that you can also use for tracking information that you can provide up to management, because costs around the storage is going to be huge and if you have a good archival retention plan in place, you can actually reap some good savings with that. The first thing that you need to ask yourself do you have a plan in place for how you want archive? Like? Do you know, like what is a trigger or is it like everything that's two years old? Have something in mind and then also talk with your vendor and say like, okay, here's what we'd like to do. What is it that your system does? They may have something that's just a automatic that you have to do it this way and that's not going to meet your need. So you need to know your needs before you go to the vendor. But then once they have that, they may come back say like hey, it's complete, the customizable. How does it fit into what you want to do? And then also what how does it fit into a storage plans? It's like are they at? Is it a tiered plan where you're paying for like ten terabytes of space no matter what, even though you're only using like three? So try to figure out how that works within there too. But then also how automated can these things be? Like can we have a key off of a metadata field or off of a workflow to put this out into archive? And then very easily bring that back into the system too. So you want to try to make everything as automated as possible. The retrieval obviously will have to be manual, but is it just a button that I have to push, or do I flip them Ata data field and then it's going to be back in there for everybody to use? What are those automations and how can you actually tailor it to what you're doing to is very important. Yeah, and one of the things you mentioned earlier was talking about like a graph database right where everything is related and has connections and you can show all of those relations so you can see everywhere something's been used and have that context. You know, I was speaking to a an archival specialist maybe about a week ago and she was saying, you know, the graph database is huge for archives because, you know, in seven years, now ten, you know, when someone to find that asset and they find it, they don't know any of the context around how is it used, where was it used, why was it here? Who published it, and you know all of that contact that goes in on a graph database case, which, you know, I think there's only, you know, two or three platforms out there. The even habit graph database is really, really massive in terms of archival needs. So really cool stuff. They're file type limitations is another funny one I think that people don't even think about. They're like, oh, it's a damn, and most every single damn goes who we can just store anything. So what do you see in in terms of that, because I think that's a little more nuanced than most people think of. They go well, yeah, we just would put it in the dam right, and every is you know, it's one of those things that says like yeah, we can do that, but are they really able to do that or are you kind...

...of limited to what they have? You're going to see a lot of difference between an enterprise and then like product. So then force platform are going to be more open and allow you to put everything in there, be more flexible, allow you to add on your own, where as a product you're kind of going to be limited to what they offer you at that specific time. Right. So if you're limited to that, how often is it going to be updated? Because we're seeing like all these different file types keep getting expanded. Dai, different image types that are raw video files are changing all the time too. How often are these platforms keeping up with it or these products keeping up with it, whereas with a platform you're able to just add that in automatically and see that it's able to be rendered and brought into the system. So what are you working on now, but, even more importantly, what could you be working on the future to make sure that you're not going to get stuck with something that is going to meet your needs in the future? Yeah, and you know, it's kind of funny. You know, I've done some work with the the DELPHIA order, and they have file types that are really old, right, like recordings from a hundred years ago. So being able to work with those not damage them in the process of migrating them, all that jazz. And then you also have the flip side of that, where you have file types that are really new, with D and ai things and things of that nature. So again, I think it's an overlooked idea of like Oh, file type limitations, and every dunder is going to be able to say, yeah, we can do that, but the reality is they can't always, you know, and another area where you know, speaking of vendors going we can, we, we yeah, we can do that, no problem, right. And you have to actually dig deeper to find the reality in the truth of the matter is around integrating with other systems. Basically, everybody always says, Oh, we've got an open API, we can integrate with anything, but when you really get down to it and ask the right questions, you start to realize, do they have a mature API or not? Or are you going to get throttled if you're pushing a lot of data into the system or pulling a lot of data out of the system? Maybe you could expand for our listeners on an on that idea of like getting throttle then making sure that you know company really has in the Ture Apic don't end up in a bad situation. Yeah, if you guys, like you said, everybody says they have it and we can talk to everything, and you know I do that too. Like what I'm talking with somebody. I talk and say like yeah, we can connect to that, but I know that we can do it because I've been working with it. We know that we have a mature API that we can work with. The throttling is a huge thing that people don't think about a lot, but if you're on a product, you're going to probably be on a shared system then too. So there's only so much resources that you're going to have that's a lotted to you. So you might only be able to do like three thousand calls in an hour or a day or something like that, and maybe that number seems like a lot, but depending on what you're doing, like if you're using Google Ai, for example, one call is bring back like fifteen different things, so that also you had sixteen for one image. So that can add up quickly. If you were more on an innerst enterprise platform, you're not going to be throttled, you're going to be open to be able to do whatever you can, and then the only problem that you're going to have there would be whatever your connectivity is, and that can be alleviated in many different ways. So throttling is a huge thing. That tells you what the API is like. But then also maturity is what kind of documentation is there? What kind of examples can be provided for you too? Are they just going to give you some things that like, Hey, here's the API information, you connect it. Are they able to work with you on different things? Is the vendor or even the partner able to work with you in those different things? And then also can be expanded. Are you stuck with just the calls they have and also what technology is being used? That will help you know. Do I have resources do this? Does the vendor have resources to do this as a partner? Those are all different things to find out around those questions. Yeah, for sure, for sure. So we covered some of the the asset management protection, we cover some of those technical limitations. But when you and I were speak and we were like, well, there's like a handful of things that are kind of not in those categories. We created the intangibles category, right, and you had some ideas on that. And one of the things that we talked a little bit about is this product road map. Right, vendors not really sharing much of a product...

...roadmap with you or not allowing you to be involved with the product road map. You know, how often is that shared? Is Your feedback even taken? You know, we see this all the time. Chris, were like, you're not the biggest customer in the world, but that doesn't matter to you, but it matters to the vendor, right. So maybe your requests on feature changes or feature request never get heard. Right. So one of the things that we found important is can you actually build out your own features within the platform? Right, and when we were discussing we've talked a little bit about like product versus platform, and you mentioned that earlier. You know, a product seems for those of you, you know listening going, what does that mean? Product versus form? A product, I would say, is something that's really your reliant on a shared infrastructure and a shared technology that's being used right, and you're really reliant on that venders product team to, you know, take your request and run with it. Oftentimes they don't, because your request might be very specific to your needs and no one else has that, whereas a platform has more of an open architecture, in that open architecture allows any sort of kind of solution developer that you have on your own team or if you hire up, you know, a certified partner of that vendor, they would actually be able to build out features on top of the platform or within the platform to, you know, bring it to where you needed to go. Because oftentimes you see something in a platform all that would be really cool for this team and you show it to them and they go, yeah, that meets like eighty five percent of our needs. But in order for us to actually use it. We really need to do this in this final step. Right, and if the vendors not willing to do that, you could actually, with a platform instead of a product, have that built out internally, which I think is cool. It really it goes to like, look's get something that has more of a strategic solution than just a tactical let's solve this Pesky business problem. Right. You know, one of the things we see a lot of, and in I'm sure you see it even more, Chris, is like these limited partner networks of product. So when we when we talk about product versus platform, one clear sign is that it product is basically out of the box and they don't have any partners, because what's the partner going to do? It's out of the box, so there isn't much for them to do. Where's the platform? You know, partners can be much more involved in the implementation process. Maybe you could speak to that, Chris, because you are a damn partner. Yeah, exactly. And even going back to your last point two, with the Product Road Map, we've built on to a couple different platforms additional things that were needed by our clients. So having that ability to have a partner that's able to do that is really huge, so that you know that you have the flexibility. Maybe it's not something big enough to go into the the product yet, but it's something that I need or the client needs. So that's huge. So then you want to be able to see if you there isn't a partner network, what are you going to do? You'll be stuck with the vendor and just be on their road map and kind of working what they're doing. But beyond what the having a partner, you want to make sure that they know not only the product that they're selling or installing for you, but also that they can also know your company's needs. So do they have this needs that are there on both sides of the product? Yeah, and then also on the client. How knowledgeable are they? Are they understanding what your needs are, or they just providing can demos or just showing you very quickly, okay, this is what you need to do, or they learning what your problems are and then trying to help you fix that? And those are really big things that the vendors able to do. And along with that to then having the the that partner along with you are you you're able to do support and user option with that partner? Is a partner able to provide you additional support, on demand support? Are they able to define where your support goes? Who does first level, second level, third level, and how does that work between the different ones? Can they provide with you something defined, or is it just saying so many like Oh, yeah, the vendor is going to take care of that. You want to make sure that you have a partner that's there to work with you. That will really help with user adoption as well, like can they offer additional training? Do they do listeninging sessions to help you work through challenges? Can they also help you work through...

...process changes to so not just here's the tool, but like help you say, like, okay, you used to do this, now we're doing this, this is what we're going to do and do it a lot of hands on approach with it. That's something you can get with a really good partner as well to really help you with all those different changes. Yeah, and you know, having those subject matter experts at a at a partner really is the difference between Oh, that that works okay, when Gosh, this is amazing and everybody wants to use it and you get that great adoption. Right. You know, another thing that you and I are seeing a lot in the industry is this expansion beyond peer Damn Right, and the challenges we see customers run into all the time is that there their platform or their product, excuse me, is a is limited to peer damn functionality. And where we see the market trending and where we see a lot of companies that are, you know, procurring a second dam as. They're looking for things outside of just am they want the platform to be able to do things like product information management, if they have products, maybe production management, if they're doing catalog or in store flyers or some direct mail pieces. Maybe they want campaign management. Maybe they want to go ahead and, you know, have like custom workflows and automations. And so again, going back to like is this something that is we just need to solve this pesky business problem, like, oh, we need we can't find her asset, so or we need this right, and you you you go procure something really lightweight, or are you looking more and have that North Star vision of what is it that we want to achieve? What other business units could possibly come into this? You know, what other systems could we deprecate over time and really seeing what that looks like in the term. We're hearing a lot Chris's content hub. I'm sure you're hearing that as well, right, you know all the time. Yeah, and looking for creating more that single source of truth for more than just yea set for the process. Yeah, so, you know, really, really huge there. So, Chris, one more I either I wanted to touch on is this, like how do you actually even get this approved? Right, you go, Gosh, we have these needs. Geez, we see we've outgrown this, we see this amazing opportunity in this other platform that we've evaluated. How do you bout go about getting that approved by the sea sweet? Maybe some tips there. I mean that's always the hardest thing and what we found, is we've been working through these challenges with our different clients, is that the sea suit really loves hard facts. You can always come back saying like hey, we're going to be more efficient or we're going to be able to lower head count, but really you're not going to lower headcount. You might shift some people around or maybe you'd cut out some freelance staff that you have during Busier Times because you are able to produce more, but you want to come in with, like saying the hard numbers, like okay, we can reduce costs by a production by doing this, because run this new platform, they have a different storage costs. We can get this to market, go from sixteen weeks to twelve weeks of getting this flyer out because we can automate this step, this up this step, or we can go from eight weeks to four weeks of for this email because we're reusing assets, we're able to find things more and we're thinking about of it as a holistic approach instead of thinking of it by each channel. Those are really big things to another thing that you've mentioned just before too, is when you're looking at something that's more than just pure damn, like maybe you don't have a pim yet, or you're using spreadsheets but you want to get a Pim. If you're looking at something that goes beyond just the damn functionality, then you you have that's you're adding it on and you're not having to build connectors or get that information back and forth. You can continue to add on and that's another great way to think. If you're thinking that North Star vision around a content hub, what are the systems that we are going to cover from this and which might we be able to deprecate in the future? Yeah, I think that that's another huge one. I mean, if you can deprecate a system and eliminate that license and support and maintenance cost, that goes along ways. In another one that you and I see a lot is also looking at what is the risk? Right, hey, currently we do it this way in this error can create this risk and if we could eliminate that risk, what does...

...that save us in a potential you know customer complain, a lawsuit or whatever it may be? Right. Yeah, kind of those soft charges that are really hard to put a number on, but they're just out there for sure. A couple things that just going to recap for the listeners today. A few things and that I heard that I thought were a kind of cool key takeaways. Where you know, kind of starting to assess where you add as as a company, where we at? Where do we have a system? Are we outgrowing that system? Wins that system actually you know when that contract expiring? So really getting idea where you're at. The second thing I heard a lot of it is like do you want a product or do you want a platform? Do you want something that can grow with you and really expand as yours, your business, grows and expand and as your needs change, or just solving that Pessy business problem. What other teams and what are the features might we need in the future besides just the need today? So I'm really starting to ruminate around. What is our vision? What do we want to take this to? It was something I heard a lot today. And what additional support and help might we need to get us to that vision? And then, lastly, how do we position this in terms of real hard numbers for management, in terms of where we are, you know, not got getting caught up on the word efficiency, but actually savings Roy and also where where we eliminating risk? That could also save us, you know. So those were kind of like the five things that I heard there. You know, Chris, this was really helpful. I know this is you know, this was a private there's a lot of content here. I think you'd mentioned me that you actually have all of these questions and stuff actually written down. So for people who are looking at doing this or writing in Urprrfi, they actually could probably contact you for this type of list. Correct. Yeah, we have this information. And then even a couple of more questions, that we stand it out a little bit, that we have some bonus content, if you will, so that you can get the information to use it to ask yourselves these questions, ask the vender these questions. Maybe you just use it to put together on OURFP or I fi. And if people, if our audience, want to reach out to you, what's the best way for them to do that or what are the best ways for them to do that? You can contact me from our website, atmosphere Pluscom, or directly get me at Chris Dot Lehman Atmosphere pluscom. Cause to find me on Linkedin and probably linked from here. I'm guessing too. Right on, and Leman is Lama n correct. That is correct. No H for me. There you go. I love it. I love it. Well, you know, soon come we'll get together again sometime. We'll have a little bourbon tasting and I'm sure that this was this was hopefully really helpful for our audience, especially those are to look going cash. Yeah, maybe there is something more to look at here. And how do I actually solve these problems that the next time we procure something we're in the right spot? I really appreciate you coming on the show today. Thanks so much, Chris. Thank you very much for having me. Look forward to doing it again. You've been listening to masters of content to ensure that you never miss an episode. Subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. Like what you hear. TAP The starts to leave a rating. To learn more about marketing and tools to help you nail your digital customer experience, visit, sendsharecom. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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