Getty Images Relies on Its Seattle Workforce to Augment the Company's Tech Edge

The global company strives to bolster creativity through technology

This article appears in print in the January/February 2020 issue. Click here for a free subscription.

The world is in the midst of a digital transformation that some economists call the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0, which is characterized by the trend toward big data and technological automation. Craig Peters, chief executive officer of Seattle-based Getty Images, recognizes that his company has to be in the vanguard of that change, or it risks being left behind.

Getty creates, licenses and distributes still imagery, video, music and multimedia products globally to about 1 million customers annually, including business customers in more than 100 countries. It operates offices around the globe — including in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Hong Kong, Sydney and elsewhere — and has about 1,800 employees worldwide, with more than 400 in Seattle.

Getty is investing heavily in search technologies that make possible the automated selection of imagery associated with customer queries. Still, Industry 4.0 demands another level of investment and evolution.

“Artificial intelligence, machine learning, it’s here today, and those are technologies that our team is working intimately with,” Peters says. “But how do you use that technology to allow people to find the most impactful imagery that relates to their brand? That’s a huge opportunity that we have to take advantage of.”

Peters says Getty’s Seattle office is at the heart of the company’s quest to do just that, with a “sizeable creative team,” but an even more robust technology team — adding that 80% of the company’s technology capacity is in Seattle.

“The core of this company is how do you make sure that you have impactful, engaging content and then invest wisely in technology that allows that to be distributed broadly,” Peters says. “AI and machine learning can start to solve for how do I get to the right image and make sure that image is the most impactful in order to meet your needs, which allows you to do your job better and do it faster.”

In the big picture, Peters says, Getty’s goal is to “move people” by creating emotional impact through images, “but I don’t know how to do that through technology or data alone.”

“So, we’re not trying to remove the creative process,” he says. “We’re trying to allow it to be better through the use of information and technology.”

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