The DAM Titan Speaks – Interview with John Horodyski, Information Management Lead at Optimity Advisors
We all know how difficult and how strange a year 2020 has been. With the pandemic raging since March, many industries have been forced to quickly reimagine and deploy new ways for their teams to work remotely. Digital Asset Management (DAM) has been a port in the storm for many companies that need a single source of truth for the video, text, 3D, and other assets that their distributed teams need reliable access to. It makes sense that digital solutions like DAM are leading the way in a working environment that seeks to balance efficiency, accountability, and safety.
With DAM becoming increasingly important for modern companies to use, I wanted to chat with the “DAM Titan” himself John Horodyski of Optimity Advisors about why DAM is having such a moment this year—and what we can look forward to for DAM in 2021.
Ed Breault: If someone Googles your name, you come up as the “DAM Titan.” Tell us a bit about that, about yourself, your background, your passions, and about your role at Optimity Advisors.
John Horodyski: My name is John Horodyski; I lead the Information Management practice at Optimity Advisors where we work with clients on their Digital Asset Management (DAM) programs whether working with them to create their DAM strategy, to assist in their DAM vendor selection, to create their metadata and taxonomy design and development, governance, data foundation strategy, and organizational roadmaps that include AI and MarTech strategy.
It’s an amazing time to be in DAM and data right now. Data is literally everything we have, and more organizations are starting to think critically about their strategic vision and plans for the next few years with data as their foundation. It’s a very good place to be.
3 Ways DAM Stood Out in 2020
EB: Take me into this year. 2020 will leave benchmarks in our minds for years to come. In many ways, 2020 has put DAM into the spotlight in terms of underscoring its importance. But in the DAM world more specifically, what has gotten you excited?
JH: Indeed, 2020 has been quite the year and it has changed us all in many ways.
Three things stood out for me this year:
- Change: Let’s talk about change because 2020 was all about change, in our behaviors as well as in our methods of work. I’m excited about change, and the powerful and inspirational poem by Leslie Dwight comes to mind when I think about this year and change: “What if 2020 is the year we’ve been waiting for? / A year so uncomfortable, so painful, so scary, so raw — / that it finally forces us to grow. … / A year we finally accept the need for change.” I think many people in DAM took that sentiment to heart this year and started thinking more about what good change they can bring to their product offerings and in their product roadmaps. I have seen much more new interest in optimizing service offerings for more AI work as well as integrations and connections with other systems within the MarTech space. Our year of change definitely got us more DAM connected in many good ways.
- Collaboration: I was also excited by the realization that virtual and remote work and its reliance on collaboration is a reality, not a wish or a dream, or something that can be delayed or pushed off. 2020 taught us that we are remote and are able to work remote with others. And, this goes beyond the memes or quips about Zoom, Teams, or Hangout meetings, this is about consciously working differently and using technology to help us do so. DAM has always done a tremendous job at this, because it is all about access to content, and being able to deliver that content at the right time, to the right people, with ease. It’s great to see DAM be recognized as a leader in this online, collaborative, virtual work world that we embrace in 2020.
- Access: Lastly, I was excited about the realization of that access, and in particular the access to our content. The ones with the content are always at a strategic advantage, as they have the ability to use that content to interact with their audience. Yet, the fact is businesses cannot simply create new campaigns as they used to. Brands are being challenged, and in some situations, driven to mine existing content in the archive to create new communications quickly and cost-effectively.
A good example of this is the global drinks company Guinness and their St. Patrick’s Day campaign this year. At the start of the pandemic they were unable to shoot new footage, so Guinness worked with their agency to quickly put together a well-timed spot for St. Patrick’s Day relying exclusively on old footage. What’s interesting is the speed with which they were able to pull this off using existing content from their archive and historical footage. The opportunity for content owners, marketing technologists, and anyone managing content is in understanding how assets lie at the center of digital operations from creation, to discovery, through distribution. This is the heart of DAM. They were connected to their content, and DAM plays a pivotal role in this strategic work.
Customer Experiences and Content Operations Ecosystems are Critical
EB: I love this article you put out onto CMSWire. I’m going to quote you here and ask you to expand a bit more on this:
“Change is everywhere: in the people, the processes and the technology with which we operate. But some of us in the DAM world have become so busy with the proliferation of content and its associated processes that we haven’t yet responded. We need to recognize the opportunity for change here, an opportunity for digital asset management (DAM) to be seen as a critical component of the content and marketing technology ecosystem. We need DAM more than ever to not only be the single source of truth for our content, but the foundation upon which we build consumer engagement. The good news is that more than ever, now is the time to change.”
Talk to me about the criticality of delivering customer experiences and content operations ecosystem.
JH: Yes, this is very much part of my “power of positive change” philosophy as inspired by 2020. DAM is this mission-critical component because it is the heart of the business. It’s where the content is.
The DAM is the backbone that you can build the rest of your stack on top of in Marketing or Creative Operations. The software you choose as your DAM is the foundation of your stack. It is where all your creative content and data lives. Choosing a strong software gives you a great base to build upon. However, it is important to remember that a good DAM is nothing without the data that moves it. Metadata, taxonomy, and governance are the muscles that you pack onto your DAM. These are as vital as the DAM software itself.
Implementing strong standards of procedures in a DAM makes all the difference when implementing your MarTech stack. Your DAM is the single repository for all of the creative assets created by the marketing department. Being able to track, find, and distribute these assets in an efficient manner makes all the difference in day-to-day creative operations.
Simply put, the DAM connects all other tools in your MarTech stack. It is your creative content hub that amplifies the ability of the rest of the MarTech stack.
A Strong Data Foundation is Key
JH: I’m still seeing great interest in artificial intelligence and machine learning, using a strong data foundation to power your DAM and other business systems. That will continue throughout 2021 and beyond.
I am also seeing trends in how DAM is being used more and more as a method upon which to serve e-commerce so well in these remote and online times in which we now live. A recent study by McKinsey shows the availability of products and services is the number one reason customers are switching their brand allegiance right now. And, this is directly tied to two powerful parts of DAM: that the product images, videos, and copy are available with accurate metadata; and the power of search associated with that accurate metadata.
This is all about improved communication DAM enables and the clear understanding of availability. DAM also has, and will continue, to power e-commerce in 2021 and beyond. DAM truly is showing itself as the heart of content operations and I’m excited to see these trends with e-commerce grow even further as we are learning how to live in this remote world.
On 2021 and Beyond
EB: We’re getting toward the end of 2020 now, so I’d like to ask you to blow up our DAM world here. If you were to make a prediction for 2021, what’s on the horizon and even beyond?
JH: I would like to think that most teams have already started their 2021 remote work programs, including creative and marketing operations teams, but you can never be too sure, and if not, then now is a great time to start thinking of your strategy in 2021.
And, yes, we don’t know how long this remote work will continue to be the norm, but it’s safe to assume this style of working will be with us for a while.
I would hope that those teams are making the right plans for 2021 including a dedicated focus to their infrastructure, and that they have the right creative technology tools in which to do their jobs both remote, and on premise.
I have heard from many clients that their rate of efficiency and productivity has increased during 2020 with remote work, and that is something upon which to capitalize.
For those teams who have not yet invested in a DAM, then now is the time to plan your DAM strategy for 2021 and ensure you have your content organized so that you can use it, reuse it, and distribute to your customers with ease. Now is the time for DAM, and to get connected with your content.
DAM is ready to take center stage in 2021 and be the true and only heart of all of our content in business. Everybody will want DAM!