ICP Blog

Reflections on Henry Stewart DAM London 2023: It's All About the Connections

Lisa Grimm
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Lisa Grimm

We do seem to be getting back into the swing of things in the digital asset management (DAM) community. At last year's event, the first in-person one after the Covid shutdowns, things still seemed a bit tentative as we were all collectively figuring out the 'new normal,' but this year’s conference felt much more robust, not only with respect to the number of attendees, but also with the discussions and debates on display.

This year's themes were very much around DAM's place in the broader ecosystem - an ideal one for me as I've been teaching an integrations course in the Rutgers DAM Certificate program - as well as the unknowns around AI; what is hype (or, perhaps, paranoia), and what is truly meaningful for our field? From my perspective, both are long-overdue discussions that help us think more holistically about DAM's role and its broader possibilities. While we who live and breathe DAM are very much aware that its true role is not as a mere repository for assets (the scope and variety of which continues to grow), but as a truly transactional platform where assets can be not only managed, but transformed and deployed, that message still needs to be conveyed to and digested by our business organizations. We still have a lot of education to do!

And that brings me to the other theme of this year's conference - truly understanding the 'why' of DAM. In many of my previous roles, especially in pharma and life sciences, that 'why' was all about regulatory compliance, with helping improve speed to market a distant second-place bonus. In other companies, it's been about freeing up creatives from duplicative or administrative work to focus on what they do best - leading to a big morale boost in those cases, too. Getting to real alignment and understanding on the problems to be solved is so important, and that leads back to the final key point - it's all about the people.

While I had a long-planned AI session with my colleagues Theresa Regli and Noz Urbina on the books for some time, I was asked to step in at the last minute to moderate a panel on governance - and as it's one of my favourite topics, I was more than happy to do so, especially given the calibre of the panel. At the end of the day, the success of any DAM initiative relies on the people and processes involved; even the best-fit platform won't unlock all its potential if the proper 'care and feeding' of the team has been skipped. Those of us who are veterans in DAM have all seen situations where due attention has not been given to some of the fundamentals, whether that's a robust taxonomy - even more critical in today's world, where assets and metadata are being passed upstream and downstream through so many tools - or simply helping people understand the 'whys and hows' of a new way of working. While it can be gratifying to come in to 'save the day' when it's all going wrong, it's much more rewarding to help people and their organizations get it right from the start, with a real investment in the people and governance, not in buying the most expensive software tool.

But where does DAM still need to go? As an industry, we would benefit from closer links to the content strategy community (something I can recall Tweeting about at a DAM New York conference some years ago), and we need to think long and hard about how we can contribute to overall sustainability: asset reuse is a good start, but we can and should do more. These kinds of events are critical to driving some of the larger conversations forward - and if you're keen to have one of those chats, I'm always here for that.

I hope to see even more of you at DAM NY in September…but let's keep those conversations going in the meantime.

Lisa Grimm, Executive Consultant