DAM Champ: Robin Parisse

DAM Champ Robin Parisse is a “media therapist” and consultant. As a media therapist she helps individuals and organizations simplify technology, hones choices, affects positive change, engages stakeholders, and improves not only asset management software adoption but satisfaction and use. As a consultant, she advises business leaders, collaborates with client teams to align resources, manages teams and projects, reviews and improves processes, elevates team performance, manages assets and solutions, improves workflows, defines requirements, creates and implements product plans, develops content, and implements tactical sales and marketing activities to increase revenues.

DAM champ: Someone who supports finding, setting up, or maintaining a digital asset management system (DAM). There is a wide variety in DAM champions, who come from positions in production, creative, management, IT, and marketing.

Robin Parisse content managementWhat is your background?
I fell into DAM when I began to work for Telestream where I managed partners and third-party integrations. At that time, we had over 300 partners of which a percent was Digital Asset Management (DAM) vendors. Hence my immersion in DAM. I was lucky and had the opportunity to work with a whole spectrum of clients from ESPN Europe, CBS, Warner, Fox, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe and more. I spent time with a lot of different types of technology workflows. For our DAM partners, I realized that there clients and prospects really didn’t know what questions to ask when it came to video and audio since it was nascent at the time.

What is a media therapist?
When I worked at the Academy of Motion Picture, the term media therapist really began to stick, before then my colleagues and I mainly joked that I was a therapist or muse depending. Since DAM touches so many different aspects of a business a large majority of my time is spent with individuals and groups creating a ‘safe zone’ for exchange where I then facilitate discussions, and help drive simplified approaches and effective actions. Most organizations have a lot of intelligence but they have not necessarily identified their ‘information architecture’ from a DAM/MAM perspective.

When it comes to workflow, you really have to break down what are the workflows you do in your day-to-day job. How does that relate to your department and how does it relate to your organization? What’s the technology infrastructure underneath them?

Authorized source of truth?
Today we’re seeing that the information infrastructure architecture of business is crucial and DAM is a very strategic component because a lot of times it’s an authorized source of truth. It also drives a lot of the different workflows that then give access to others. It has a lot of interrelated cogs moving, it doesn’t stand alone.

What’s your advice for getting a new DAM?
Three things to think about when you’re shopping for a DAM today compared with in the past. One, the technology has morphed. Two, the components in your infrastructure have changed. Three, you want intelligent content, as well as you want to be able to measure, track and analyze.

“DAM IS becoming just like your accounting department, a fundamental brick in the foundation of your business. Whereas before it was just solving one problem in a single department.”

There’s been a shift over the last 5+ years about what the technology can do, how much content is generated and how much (the price of) storage has gone down.

How is a DAM like shoes?
You can use a shoe analogy. I like Italian, Portuguese and Spanish shoes. I like high-end shoes and I know what fits my foot, what’s comfortable and they have to be leather. So that is a flavor and a configuration of a shoe that is who I am, what I do and I find comfortable. Your DAM has to do the same thing, if it doesn’t fit how you do work, it’s going to fail.

So you shouldn’t try to fit into something that’s not your size or style?
I had a vendor hire me to do an assessment because the client was disappointed. The client had set up all these requirements, purchased a DAM and set it up. They put about 40,000 assets in it and nobody could find them because their metadata structure wasn’t set up properly to describe their assets.

Somebody went to tag them and it (the metadata structure) didn’t make sense to them, so they didn’t tag them.

“So if you have a way of describing a photo because of the way people look for it, those are important, because it’s the flavor and culture and characteristics of what you’re doing in your business world.”

Another client of mine, Yahoo, only put finished assets in their system and what happened with them is they were never current because the creative production or brand team were always developing assets. So we looked at putting in files directly instead of after the fact, because after the fact creates a legacy situation where nothing is ever in there in a timely manner.

How do you avoid these situations?
I always like to say that it’s like a mapping exercise. If I want to go to Europe, am I taking a train to a boat? Am I flying there directly? Do I have a couple of stops along the way? What’s my budget? How long am I expected to go for? Are there any things I want to sightsee along the way? It’s that same idea about agility, about being able to make trade-offs. You should at least have that framework about where you’re going and what it might look like.

Then going to each piece of your business and say ‘how do we do things today’ and mapping that at a very high level. My assets come in from here, Joe does this with them, then Ann does that. Then there is a review and approval process. When assets first come in, who’s saving it? Is it on somebody’s desktop? How many copies do you have? Because a lot of times what happens is unbeknownst to IT or the person in charge, there may be 10 copies of one item throughout your organization, because of trust.

‘I don’t trust him’ or ‘I don’t trust the system’ or ‘I want to know I have it for me’ are things I hear. You want to look at all those little variables, then you can say ‘OK for this department where there are assets in a production or a creative workflow, they have these components of capture, storage, review and approval’. Then you sit with them and say do I understand you correctly, this is what your world looks like?

The result?
At a high-level you get a picture. You don’t have everything in your organization, maybe you take three or four departments that are the DAM power users. The rest of the people you just make an assumption that they are going to be viewers. Then you can prioritize what your world looks like and identify what makes most sense to attack first.

You don’t want to do everything at one time. You want to roll out where you have power users that actually like the system, who think of new ways of using it and then adopt other people along the way. Some workflows are easy because they have been refined over time.

“Some of these vendors can come in and they can pretty much out of the box plug-and-play and solve three department’s problems at the top level. Those are the kinds of wins you want.”

What are your pointers for dealing with vendors?
When you are seeking a vendor solution, you need to look at how agile is their API. Is it easy to build off of it? Is it easy for me to configure things myself? Is it easy for my IT to configure it? Do they have to have programming skills to quickly write a script to customize and configure it or do I need to pay professional services to personalize something and come up with a new solution piece for me?

The best practice is out of the box configuration and some script writing. That’s where you want to be most of the time because, one it won’t break when it updates or upgrades and if it does there will be a team that’s already working on making that work so that you’re not left on an island alone.

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