This was my first time at the Henry Stewart DAM Conference, located at the Hilton Midtown in NYC, and I came away with a few key learnings that were shared during the speaking sessions and panel discussions.  First off, I applaud the conference for adding the Creative Operations Track, which offered specific topics geared toward creative professionals and the struggles that they go through on a daily basis. I think it was a huge win. Any good conference leaves its attendees amped to implement some changes or foster new approaches to current problems when they return to the office.  I think DAM NY accomplished that.

Leading the session was Kevin Brucato, Vice President of Creative Operations at Prudential. To open the day, he posed this question: What role does Creative Operations play in the rapidly-evolving world of creative?

To answer that question, Kevin asked the group to focus on three simple words:Agility, Collaboration, and Visibility. I don’t know if Kevin has a crystal ball, but those three words continuously resonated throughout the day—in Panel discussions, audience questions, and breakout sessions.

  1. Agility: I heard a lot of chatter about teams needing to embrace flexibility in how they work. As creative teams become tasked with a higher volume of work, moving freely without barriers becomes more important than ever. One way to do this is by incorporating new technology into the ecosystem—leveraging solutions to bridge the gap where manual processes or inefficient legacy systems might be slowing teams down.
  2. Collaboration: Two types of collaboration were discussed repeatedly. First, collaboration with your team. Tons of attendees made comments and asked questions about how to get different disciplines on their teams working together—like print and digital, or marketing and creative. When teams operated in silos, it often leads to friction, extra work, and mismanaged assets. Secondly, collaboration with various business units and executives was brought up from more of a process standpoint.  Getting buy-in for different technologies, and then getting stakeholders to adopt them unanimously can be difficult.  Working closely with those stakeholders during the requirement gathering phases and even during implementation can be tremendous for added buy-in.  Another solution could be to compile a “strike team” of individuals who have been a part of the process from the beginning. It will be easier for them to “infiltrate” their specific departments and quickly foster organizational-wide adoption.
  3. Visibility: This term can mean a few different things, but at HS DAM, a lot of the discussions were around technology and metrics. Many teams struggle with accurate visibility of their teams, i.e. where are the roadblocks, and are they meeting in the right spot.  Getting insight quickly goes a long way to ensuring deliverables are met and on time. (Slightly tangential, but worth noting: Teams must understand their internal processes and how they run before choosing a solution to help workflow or digital assets, etc. Technology cannot solve human behavior, so understanding where your team is headed and what’s essential to get there goes a long way to ensuring you make the right technology selection.) Okay, getting back on track…Metrics and showing ROI for creative came up a lot. Teams want to know how to show what they do, and how well they do it. Metrics can help show accountability and where bottlenecks tend to happen, as well as provide KPIs and real-time insights into how the team is performing and where shifts should happen. As one panelists put it, nobody ever cares about metrics when business is running well.  It’s important to have the data and analytics behind what you are doing to showcase your wins and call out where improvement needs to happen to foster continual growth and development within the team.

Now back to Kevin’s opening question. Whether you attended the conference or are reading up on it afterwards, you’ve probably surmised that Creative Operations does, in fact, play an integral role in today’s creative industry by fostering agility, collaboration, and visibility. With the volume and velocity at which teams are running and the massive amounts of moving parts, Creative Operations is essential to maintaining order, encouraging innovation, but most of all, keeping it simple.

I appreciate any insight and comments on the topic or ways you’ve found that have made your team successful.

If you wan’t to engage more, you can follow me on Twitter at @ondrakogolf.