Getty Aims for Picture-Perfect IT System

By Samuel Greengard Print this article Print
Customer Service

The world's largest provider of stock photographs and other images improved IT services management, which trimmed customer response times from 15 minutes to 5.

For businesses looking to compete in today's increasingly challenging digital environment, IT is everything. Yet, few companies face the daily challenges of Getty Images, the Seattle-based stock photo agency that boasts an archive of more than 180 million assets, including still images, illustrations and film footage.

The 21-year-old firm serves customers—including newspapers, magazines, advertisers, film and television studies, and online media outlets—in more than 100 countries. It also works with more than 300 content partners and 230,000 contributors worldwide.

"It's essential that our Website and IT systems operates at maximum efficiency," says Emily Ireland, director of IT Service Management at Getty Images. "If there is a problem, whether it's in the form of slow downloads or an inability for people to log in, we need to address the issue immediately."

Indeed, any performance lags or site slowdowns impact the business. Getty images pulls in between $2 million and $4 million per day, and an incident can cost the company as much as $125,000. In the past, pinpointing problems and fixing them was challenging.

"It took too much time just to get the right technical people engaged and start troubleshooting an issue," Ireland points out. "Shaving 10 or 15 minutes off a longer type of incident has enormous value for Getty."

In July 2012, the company launched an IT service management program with chat rooms and other tools to help IT staff diagnose and fix problems. However, the environment lacked a number of features Getty required. So, after a major power outage that caused Websites and feeds to fail, the company recognized a need to further upgrade its IT management and services capabilities.

Automating the Incident Response System

In February 2015, Getty installed a new communications system from xMatters. The technology—which allows IT staff to push a button and start a contact rotation within specific groups of technicians using phone, text and email—integrates with the company's existing ServiceNow environment via an API.

"We have several on-call rotations when an incident occurs," Ireland explains. "If a person responsible for the application or site doesn't answer within 5 minutes, it rolls onto the next person. If that person doesn't respond, it rolls to a manager. The entire process is automated."

So far, the xMatters system has trimmed engagement time by 70 percent. "Shaving the response time from 15 minutes to 5 minutes makes a huge difference for our customers," Ireland says.

Because the company prioritizes incidents based on impact and urgency, it's also better equipped to allocate resources more efficiently. Ireland says that staff members adopted the new technology with little resistance, and push notifications and alerts delivered through an app have been well-received.

In addition, analytics capabilities allow the director to identify problem points, as well as situations in which someone isn't responding to calls or text messages in a timely manner.

Getty is planning to use additional features of the xMatters solution in the months ahead. "This system has helped us move IT operations forward, and it ensures that customers are getting the best experience possible," Ireland reports.

This article was originally published on 2016-08-26
Samuel Greengard writes about business and technology for Baseline, CIO Insight and other publications. His most recent book is The Internet of Things (MIT Press, 2015).
eWeek eWeek

Have the latest technology news and resources emailed to you everyday.