Digital innovation in the arts

How can arts organisations use digital ideas and technology to thrive?

Digital technology is increasingly being used in the arts to generate revenue and as the cornerstone of business models. The Digital Culture Report, an annual survey tracking the use of digital technology by arts and cultural organisations found that in 2013 just over a third of 891 participants (34%) said that digital was important or essential to business models. By 2014 this figure had risen to over half (51%).

Shifting foundations

Previously the benefit of digital was largely in the areas of marketing and communications, but its influence is now being recognised at the heart of arts organisations. With this significant shift, organisations need to think carefully about how they approach their transformation and ensure that every touchpoint is a consistent and well integrated experience.

Embracing change

Digital transformation is often a source of anxiety, and can seem like an overwhelming task to tackle. So, breaking things down in a systematic way will make it more achievable. The fist step is to look at the core elements of the organisation in relation to the current climate.

Working through these elements and ranking each by its likely impact and feasibility provides a clearer picture of how to think about the implications for your organisation. Identifying specific areas and deciding on what should be a priority goes a long way to making serious improvements. Looking beyond your sector is critical, as unlike some things, digital readily crosses boundaries.

Familiar steps

Knowing the customer/audience journey, and thinking closely about the different elements that make for a good experience is essential. Customer journey mapping can work wonders for keeping them central to your process and making sure every idea is grounded in practicality.

Knowing each step the customer takes when interacting with your organisation will illuminate areas that need improvement and where best to add value. With the right use of digital, each touchpoint can become more efficient, coherent and integrated.

Detail focused

A small and well thought out innovation has seen some organisations scrap booking fees, replacing them with optional donations at the checkout stage of an online transaction. A donation to support the organisation, or a related one, is infinitely more satisfying – as is the choice involved. This is a simple example of how design thinking can be applied to positively improve the customer experience and benefit the organisation.

A considered approach

Carefully placed investments are likely to be the reality for the majority of arts organisations, so thinking strategically about what will add the most value is crucial. Careful research will go a long way to discovering what’s right for your specific context.

More than ever before, when audiences interact with an organisation they are expecting a consistent experience, irrespective of the way they choose to interact. Organisations need to allow time to think closely about the experience they are providing, and how they can make it a great one at every stage of the journey.

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