You probably know the survey team: Chad Beer of NYC Digital Asset Managers, Daniel Luper of Henry Stewart Events and the DAM Symposia, John Horodyski and Michael Moon of the Journal of DAM and the various managers of the 3000-member LinkedIn Group, Masters of Digital Asset Management.
We all urge your participation in this 15-minute survey.
Would you like to discover how Best-in-Class companies achieve their results in DAM?
Would you like to know which SPECIFIC PRACTICES to develop or refine in how your firm ingests, tags, manages, and distributed digital assets?
Would you like to find out which NEW APPLICATIONS a growing number of firms using DAM have added to their DAM operations, such as remote proofing, automated banner ad creation, budgeting, and procurement?
Would you like to learn if your CURRENT DAM can take you to Best-in-Class operations, or that the time has come to considering upgrading or migrating to a next-generation DAM platform?
TAKE A FEW MOMENTS…
By participating in this brief survey, you can map your experiences in DAM to the new BEST PRACTICES MODEL.
This will enable you to COMPARE your current DAM practices with those of your peers, BENCHMARK your DAM operations, and SEE what next practice will give to Best-in-Class results.
We (below) are conducting a survey that will help companies such as yours determine the Best-in-Class PROCEDURES for DAM OPERATIONS.
PLANNING A NEW DAM?
If your company plans to implement or upgrade a DAM system, or want to simply evaluate the potential benefits of DAM, we would appreciate your feedback in this brief, 15-minute survey.
FREE REPORT OF FINDINGS
In appreciation for sharing your time and thoughts with us, we will provide complimentary access for you to the full benchmark report as soon as it is published (a $499 value).
The survey team promises to keep individual responses strictly confidential, and will only use your data in aggregate, source-independent form.
We look forward to hearing from you, and greatly appreciate your time and participation.
On behalf of Chad Beer of NYC Digital Asset Managers, Daniel Luper of Henry Stewart Events and the DAM Symposia, John Horodyski and Michael Moon of the Journal of DAM and the various managers of the 3000-member LinkedIn Group, Masters of Digital Asset Management we thank you.
SKILLS OF DAM PROFESSIONALS
MM: Are there any other particular technologies or other kinds of complementary skills that a DAMster should have?
JK: I think a DAMster should have as much knowledge about Adobe’s Creative Suite as they can obtain. I know that’s a very broad statement. There’s so much to extract from the Creative Suite.
But what I’ve seen over the past several years, I think a DAMster could really benefit from learning as much as they could about Adobe’s Creative Suite and Adobe’s future direction when analyzing the Creative Suite.
ADOBE CREATIVE SUITE AS A CAREER
MM: Adobe’s Creative Suite has evolved beyond just a set of tools and technologies. The Creative Suite has become a career platform—a toolset for innovating new workflows and processes, as well as career and business opportunities.
JK: I couldn’t agree more. I think from what I’ve seen, that trend will only continue.
MM: Would you speak to becoming more skilled in the particulars, not just of the Creative Suite, but how to engage and thrive in the whole ecosystem of tools, technologies, and plugins that fit into that?
JK: Yes. Think about how those tools could possibly overlap in the future. I’ll give you an example.
In Flash at one point, you might need to know how to do some coding and scripting and whatnot. I envision Adobe pushing more of that work back to the designer. When the designer creates, the code will somehow be generated in the background. And maybe that piece as a whole gets passed off to a developer, to a client, to a database, et cetera, et cetera.
Adobe is going to make it easier and easier for creative types to do more exciting, innovative work as we progress out.
MM: We’ve seen in the new Creative Suite 4 that Adobe added a whole bunch of tools for Web, print, and multimedia. In one respect, the creative professional no longer works in the isolated ghetto of just a print or an online group. Rather, the creative professional has emerged as a multimedia, multimodal communications specialist.
JK: Yes. And the one thing they’re missing is a DAM to organize all of that for you. They don’t do workflow, per se. Combining the two can really help your organization tremendously.
MM: Fabulous. Would you have any final summarizing statements for DAM and related systems at Newsday?
JK: Yes. I would say in everyone’s busy work career, sometimes we get so caught up in the day to day that we don’t have time to think strategically about the future. Think strategically about a DAM and how it can benefit your organization, and you won’t be sorry.
MM: Okay! James, I want to thank you very much for the time that you’ve spent with us. Great success in terms of continuing to drive process innovation into Newsday.
JK: Thank you, Michael. It was my pleasure.
MM: Perhaps you can speak to some of the more human and/or professional dimensions of a DAM practitioner? You led off today talking about your 19-year career and working your way from the bottom up. Now you have 150 or so people reporting to you.
If you were advising or coaching somebody that was 28 or 32 years old today, and who asked you, “Hmm—what’s this DAM thing?” And, “What are the career upsides for that?” What do you envision as necessary skills that someone should possess in a DAM-related environment?
Also, what other kinds of jobs should an innovation leader such as yourself think about having under his or her belt that would prepare him or her for the current and anticipated future of advertising and the publishing business?
JK: To the first point, I’d say to spend time on workflow. It generally will always come back to help you. Listen carefully to your users and get multiple opinions.
MM: By that, James, do you mean getting an academic or a structured education / orientation around definition and modeling of workflows?
JK: I was thinking more of a hands-on approach and using flowcharts to map things out—to clearly understand every step of the workflow. That’s what I was thinking.
Secondly, if you want to get into DAMs—and I see them just growing and growing and becoming more and more prevalent—think about the DAM as more than just what you need it for. Try to think about how it may touch every department in your organization and how you can help those departments.
I’ve mentioned several times today that all of the creative and production folks are on it. And the advertising folks. I didn’t mention that the marketing team at Newsday—as soon as they heard about Cumulus—wanted in. So we said, “Sure. Why not?”
When the Pennysaver or Star Community Publishing wanted in, we said, “Sure. Why not?”
So think about more than just your local department. That can go a long way in helping the company and your career.
MM: So daily production workflow would then include pulling many large files across the network. How did you accommodate that? Do you have a separate network over which you pull these files? Or does it take place on your basic corporate network?
JK: It’s the basic corporate network. And I’m glad you asked that question, because I do want to share something with the readers.
The basic core network is 100mb to the desktop. It’s nothing super-super sophisticated.
I was fortunate enough to get some Intel Macs last year, and we did notice that the ingestion of the assets and the calling of the assets out of the database did seem to perform better on the Intel Macs as opposed to maybe some of the older G5s or whatnot.
This is because of the engineering effort made by Canto in Berlin. The Cumulus client is designed to handle much of the workflow processing itself, only going to the server to write metadata or draw out info and assets when required. So the more powerful the workstation, the better the performance.
The users are very picky in many cases, and performance has never been an issue. We do embed all the high-res artwork in the InDesign documents that we store in the database. But when the users call them out, I haven’t heard any complaints about things taking too long.
So clearly, the architecture of the system must be doing something right because we don’t have complaints on that end. And the searches too, Michael—finding the assets.
MM: Yes. That makes sense. You’re just hitting metadata and thumbnails at that point. Right?
File Delivery System
MM: Let’s step outside the firewall of your advertisers and field organization. Do you use any kind of special bandwidth optimization or asset-delivery systems? Low-end systems might entail services YouSendIt and at the high-end, services from Radiance or Aspera, or other kinds of bandwidth optimization systems.
JK: No. We have not.
MM: Is that something that you anticipate being an issue? Or does it seem that everyone’s fine with their basic HTTP connections and FTP servers?
JK: I think it’s a topic that will need to be explored, especially as the system grows. But as of right now, Michael, it doesn’t seem to be an issue.
MM: Would you speak to your IT infrastructure? How has it grown since the inception of your Cumulus DAM, in terms of your network topology, bandwidth requirements, storage, servers, and stuff like that?
JK: That’s an interesting story. The Canto Cumulus solution was originally purchased as a small workgroup solution for the small group of artists.
MM: As many are!
JK: It’s a wonderful solution. I’m sure it works fine.
Strategically, it didn’t take long for us to see that it could be much more than that. It could not only support all of our internal folks—advertising included. We wanted to take it outside and have the folks tap in with the clients, out on the road, and keep the feet on the street.
When you go from a small workgroup solution, of course, to a pretty big enterprise version solution, when you start talking about hundreds of users on the system, we needed a good partner to support us. Then of course the IT structure came in to play.
We started, Michael, with one Windows server that was running both the Canto Cumulus solution and its Web services on the same exact box.
MM: This was a 4-wide Dell or Compaq type box?
JK: Yes. Exactly. It’s going to the point now where the whole solution is being ported to Linux. Full disaster recovery.
MM: That would be like a RedHat Linux?
JK: That’s correct. And a separate Web server.
MM: And you’re running on probably the same kind of Intel box? Or are you moving?
JK: Yes. I believe it’s that same type of Intel box. It’s going to be high availability and recoverable, et cetera, et cetera.
I guess the plans for the future could even be porting it to Solaris. The IT folks here are certainly comfortable with all of the solutions between Windows, Linux, and Solaris. But they felt that the best solution for now was to go with Linux. They want the user to have the best experience.
Another thing I’ve learned many years ago, Michael—sometimes with the users, the advertising folks, et cetera. You have one shot to grab their attention and to get their buy in. IT plays a role in having the system perform well and help you with that. Certainly your support vendor plays a huge role in that, as well.
MM: So right now, you have 200 users and a quarter million digital assets on one 4-wide Dell server or Compaq server?
MM: Let’s get your take on three basic philosophies for workflow. First, we have the top-down, complex, and expensive policy-managed routing systems that can model and automate for complex enterprise-wide workflows. Second, you might have a prebaked workflow system that says, “Here is a procedure.” It’s a matter of turning on and off switches, configuring a prebaked workflow system. You see a lot of those in traditional DAM systems, where basically I’ll call it “workflow light.”
The third workflow philosophy, that we find in Cumulus, says, “We’re going to work bottom up with individual users and say, ‘What does this particular user need in terms of access, metadata and automated activities?” This might entail installing embedded Java plugins (EJaPs) to the end-user client or server-side equivalents of embedded server plugins (ESPs).
This third workflow philosophy enables you to optimize the productivity at the level of activities and tasks for individual users from the server’s entire classes of users or the whole operation.
Would you amend or expand upon any of that?
JK: The only other thing I would amend on that is certainly, I always like to keep the IT professionals in the loop, as well. They weigh in on certain items that will help and protect our organization, as well on the way things should be engineered and how best to do it—not only for the users, but also for the organization.
But yes, you hit it very well, Michael. Very accurately.
MM: If I were to summarize; one, you had a technology that integrated seamlessly with Mac and PC users.
Two, Cumulus accommodated all the file types and media formats that you use and has plugins and a developer community to address new or specialized file types.
Three, you and your consultant, Vince, got involved up front with the creative and production staffs, getting them to participate in creating customized look and feel dashboards that reflected the elegance and the efficiencies that they’ve come to appreciate and demand from tools like the Adobe Suite and the Mac platform.
Four, over time you began to add new automated tasks, services, and capabilities, using scripting and the functions of the operating system—as well as plugins to the end-user client or DAM server. Basically, you evolved into a pretty complex and powerful workflow that continues to evolve one small innovation at a time. Now, you have a pretty sophisticated ecosystem and a platform that supports very complex multidimensional workflows.
JK: Yes. I think you covered all the points. There’s no need for the organization to try to do this thing and try to customize it and script it right out of the box. You can start small and evolve a little bit each month—over a year’s time, it really adds up. And we don’t shock the user community with big changes. We’re closing in on a quarter million assets—and we started in July of 2007.
MM: How many users and assets do you have now?
JK: We have probably over 200 users, a quarter million assets, and I’d say we average 100 assets per day. But we can certainly put 600 or 700 in a day on a busy day. We could hit 1,000 new cataloged assets on a very, very busy week, between all the different departments—especially over the Christmas holidays. We support videos and Flash and PDFs and Photoshop files and InDesign files. Every file type that Cumulus supports. My groups are under strict instructions, “If you touch it, it goes into Cumulus.”