|Image Is Everything|
You probably have photo albums filled with them．They capture historical moments and provide visual links to the past-to that brief moment in time when the photo was snapped．Photographs play an important role in telling stories, whether that story is personal or whether it’s part of a report for your boss or used to help explain and illustrate a news story that you’re reading．With a database of over 70 million photographs and an estimated 30，000 hours of film, Seattle-based Getty Images，Inc．(www．gettyimages．corn)，a stock photo company, has one foot firmly planted in the past and another firmly planted in the future．Mark Getty, cofounder and executive chairman of Getty Images, is carefully transforming his company by embracing the new rules of Web-based business and culture．It’s not been an easy transition．
When you read a book (such as this one)or a magazine, where do the photos and other visual images come from? Unless they’re custom-shot photos, they’re probably from stock photo businesses-companies that purchase photos from numerous professional photographers around the world, organize those photos into categories, and sell the photos to customers(creative and design professionals, other businesses，and consumers)．In the “old” economy, it often took days，even weeks for customers to get a photo. They’d have to look through pages and pages of expensively produced color catalogs, trying to find that perfect image for the project on which they were working．If they couldn’t find it, they might have to pay a research assistant at an image company to search through many thousands of photos to help find just what they were looking for. After numerous phone calls and selecting that perfect image, a package would show up at the customer’s door with the chosen image．It would be on a square of film that would have to be digitized and eventually returned to the stock agency. And if you were working late at night or rushing to meet a project deadline，you were out of luck! Mark Getty perceived that there were opportunities in making this whole inefficient and cumbersome process better through the power of the Internet．He’s transforming the old ways and In the process creating a company poised to profit in an e-business world．
Getty Image’s integrated Web site can be accessed anytime, anywhere by customers．Using a key-word search, customers can receive a series of relevant images. Customers can immediately take a rough image for free and see what it looks like in a page layout．Buying a final image is very simple- enter a credit card number and download the image. But getting the process to this point hasn’t been as simple!
Getty Images is a blend of acquired businesses, most of which were competitors．It began with two big acquisitions: London-based Tony Stone Images and Seattle-based PhotoDisc.These two companies couldn’t have been more different. Tony Stone, a traditional stock photo company, was known for its superior artistic quality. PhotoDisc was a start-up that pioneered the delivery of images on CDs at discount stores and other types of retailers .Old meets new! As difficult and often unpleasant as the merger between the two companies was, eventually company executives realized that they had the opportunity to create something new, unique，and potentially valuable by combining the best of both companies．The process of integrating new businesses has become easier as Getty Images has grown through other acquisitions．
One of the company’s innovative approaches is an idea bank committee, a group of 10 people that meets once a month．Their job is to direct ideas from the company’s more than 2,600 employees to the person best equipped to decide whether the idea is feasible and how to do it．The group has no formal leader, and it processes between 40 and 80 ideas per month. Some ideas are small；others have had enormous impact on the company. For instance, based on multiple requests，the group lobbied to allow customers to create customized packages of CDs by choosing their own mix of images．This customization option now accounts for over 40 percent of sales revenue. Then there’s the backroom operation of Getty Images where two shifts of technicians digitally scan an average of 750 photos every 12 hours．These teams work to add value to the basic photos. For instance, they tag the photo with digital information that customers can use to control their computer settings to get more accurate color. Or the team might create special options in some photo flies by, for instance，changing the background．
Through extensive training, radical restructuring, and investments in technology, Getty Images is positioned as a leader and innovator in the visual content market. However success today doesn’t guarantee success tomorrow, especially in a Web-based economy．Mark and other managers at Getty know that they’ll have to stay focused on providing customers with the ultimate in imagery. Yes, to them, image is everything!