Bob Hendriks is a professional photographer in Canada and managing director of In Transit Images. He also leads a firm specializing in visual content production en development.Bob has worked in the creation and business side of all fields in the visual arts as well as a DAM consultant after having worked for IBM as an IT consultant in Europe.He is currently the managing director of In Transit Images, a boutique licensing house and publisher specialized in high-end photography representing work from photographers worldwide. With a degree in communications and extensive IT, commercial and visual arts background, he is an all-round professional for the DAM industry with a wealth of knowledge to share.In Transit Images is a photography platform established in 2010 with several business units; In Transit Licensing and In Transit Art Consulting represent photography collections from 65+ fine art and commercial photographers worldwide, their high-quality photography available for licensing and printing. In Transit Publishing publishes photography books with a variety subjects and themes and In Transit Projects offers consulting services for the photography industry. Our core business units, Licensing and Art Consulting, offer our collections through our portal with ecommerce website and through a global network of distributors. Our organization is a comparative small one without dedicated IT staff, our staff is spread geographically to cover our main markets – North America and Europe - therefore our investment in critical business applications and underlying hardware require low levels of maintenance and high levels of reliability and uptime. With our in-house IT skillset and assistance of external providers such as Extensis we have been able to implement a sophisticated platform and subsequently develop a state-of-the-art platform to support and drive our business.In Transit Images has a core headcount of approx. 12 at any time with 3 people dedicated to related areas, supplemented with a web development team of 10.
My role as Managing Director is to drive all business aspects (finances, IT, marketing, strategy, sales and business development – clients and channels) of In Transit Images including IT, with a background in IT as a business consultant at IBM my skillset was automatically useful to lay out the roadmap for determining, selecting, implementing and rolling out the aforementioned IT environment. Familiarity with the jargon and concepts used made interacting with a spectrum of suppliers – application and web developers, hardware suppliers – easier.
The majority of our staff has a background in commercial, fine-art and stock photography and we managed our collections that way as well – a studio workflow. Starting to manage our first commercial assets in 2010 we quickly figured out that there were major differences between a photography workflow and DAM workflow, as the first one creates and the second manages, initially we managed In Transit Images’ assets with Adobe Lightroom 2 occasionally combined with Adobe Photoshop and good old-fashioned spreadsheets. Major shortcomings of this workflow presented itself in inefficiency, fragmentation, inconsistency, duplicate and increased manual processes.Anecdote – As requests for specific images / subjects increased, we had to rely on the search capability of the application in our workflow – Lightroom – this led to hectic searches for clients that required last minute input on the availability of certain images. We found ourselves sitting behind desks performing these searches more and more rather than driving the business and making sales.With the accumulation of assets a bottleneck was forming between managing and formatting these assets on one side and offering and commercializing the assets to the marketplace, it depended solely on manpower to manually process each file therefore increasing costs and overhead over limited startup revenues.
In late 2010, after finalizing a complete inventory of current and future needs we determined that our business solution required RSA, should provide web and desktop clients, be available on PC and MAC environments and accommodate growth up to 1 million assets.In addition feature a sensible ROI and a roadmap for future development (dynamic platform). This narrowed down rapidly to only one of-the-shelf solution that offered customization capabilities; Portfolio Server. This only provided us with a direction to our vision however this was only the first step of many we had to make. We would need to overhaul our workflow, keep in mind all technical requirements past, current and future while being aware of the business side of all, cost vs. benefit, investment vs. returns.
Upon shortlisting and selecting Portfolio Server we approached it as any regular implementation however it pushed us to consider several new factors not faced before, mainly assigning task sets to certain staff members – and in Portfolio Server - and file organization on our server.The initial installation of the core application took about 5 days plus about 4 weeks of implementing the workflow and tweaking the application. By August 2011 Portfolio Server was up-and-running internally and informally providing some clients with a look into our collections.Concurrently to the implementation in 2011 we identified that a coupling of the Portfolio Server database with our future portal / website would be essential to conducting and driving our business onwards. The then current version of Portfolio Server had no real API available however the flexibility of the application signaled us there were possibilities in developing such a needed API, if needed custom.[Question for Ed to interject: How long did it take to get Portfolio Server installed?]
Our current catalogs contain 85k assets with an average file size of 50-150 Mb, running on 4 servers – 1 on-site and 3 in networked datacenters – A primary and secondary application server, mail-server and web-server respectably. The primary application server running Extensis Portfolio Server is used as an internal workhorse accessed by staff, distributors and large clients but also for adding assets and metadata management. 10 People can be logged on to this server at any given time all accessing our catalogs, logon can take place through web clients or desktop clients within a VPN. This server replicates its assets with the secondary application server running an additional Extensis Portfolio Server license to feed the webserver – running our portal – with all assets available for ecommerce on our website. This setup provides us with physical load balancing and separation of activities throughout In Transit Images.[Question for Ed to interject: Do you have an expected rate of growth for the number of assets? For example, you expect to add an additional 25k assets each year for the next 3 years?]
Centralized DatabaseOne database as compared multiple smaller ones or derivatives or even copies. Knowing that there is only one version of any file in one database.Internal & External AccessibilityOur database is centrally available internally for search, modification, addition and other purposes and externally connected to our Web Portal through an API.Indexed Assets – Search OptionsCompared API with Portal / Website
Resource MultiplierRequiring less people to manage our digital assets, not monopolizing time of one or more staff members to handle manual requests. In addition the assigned staff members to DAM are able to work more efficient, multiplying their efforts compared to previous scenarios.Reduced CostOur cost reduction from previous scenarioIncreased Revenues with Profit Maximization
In Transit Images Drives Online Photography Business Forward with DAM
In Transit ImagesDrives Online PhotographyBusiness Forward with DAMPresented by Bob Hendriks
Bob HendriksManaging Director, In Transit Images
My Role• Managing Director• Driver of All Business Aspects• Commercial Photographer• Former IBM Business Consultant
Life Before DAM• Fragmented DAM• Fragmented & Inefficient Digital Workflow• Inaccurate & Inconsistent Metadata• Manual Website Feed• Manual Sales Processes• Lack of “Management” or Overview
Challenges• Streamline Core Processes – Ingestion, Sorting, Input & Output• Gain Control of Photographs Collections• Create Uniform Metadata• Manage Collections• Revenue Generation• Couple Databases to Portal Design• Control Cost versus Revenue
The Solution• Reliable with Low-Maintenance Cost• Scalable up to 1 Million Assets• Availability• 3 Years ROI• Customizable (Open Platform)• Cross-Platform• Networkable Access (LAN – WAN)
DAM Implementation Steps1. Identified DAM Application (January 2011)2. Assessed Workflow3. Acquired Hardware4. Implemented Workflow5. Installed DAM Software6. Launched Environment7. Developed Web Portal using Portfolio API8. Launched Web Portal (May 2012)
Current Environment• 85,000 assets• 4 Catalogs• 10 – 400 MB average file size• 4 Servers: 2 Portfolio Servers 1 Web Server 1 Mail Server