Technology, we often hear, has transformed both the way that museums and arts organisation do business, and the expectations and behaviours of the people we want to reach. As we look ahead to the 5th decade of the Internet, and the ever-increasing role of social, mobile and cloud technologies in defining how people consume, create and interact with our services, how can we take a holistic view of technology in our organisation and how can we plan strategically to do more of it, do it better, and with greater sustainability and impact.
It is to address this question that the Collections Trust is opening up a new consultation on a model for benchmarking Digital in museums and similar arts organisations. Building on projects like the EU-funded ENUMERATE, and the fantastic Let's Get Real research from Culture24, our aim is to provide you with a simple self assessment tool to step back, look at where you are in your use of technology, and think about the areas that you need to prioritise.
The benchmarking tool we have developed is based on the structure of the Benchmarks in Collections Care tool which we updated with the support of the Arts Council England last year. It takes 8 core competencies - areas in which digital is likely to impact on your organisation, and then provides a series of range-statements enabling you to map your development from 'we don't do that' to 'digital, creative media and engagement are fully integrated across every aspect of what we do'.
The 8 core areas we have focussed on are:
- Content Delivery
Of course, we could discuss the scope of this model until the cows come home, but the idea is (a) to provide a simple structure that is equally accessible both to the technical and the non-technical alike, and (b) to make the critical point that digital and creative media are not single-issue questions - they are about the interplay between organisational culture, policy, strategy, behaviours, values and kit. An effective digital organisation is one which integrates these elements effectively and harnesses them to the delivery of their core mission in a way which suits the values and behaviours of their audiences.
To help people engage with this benchmarking tool, we will be publishing it as an Excel-based interactive which allows people to map their progression against these core areas. The resulting data is then mapped to a spider diagram (see below), which is intended to provide an at-a-glance visualisation of key areas of strength and areas for further development.
Benchmarking the digital progression of your organisation does some very helpful things in terms of your strategic development:
- It helps demonstrate success in terms of digital development
- It helps make the case for prioritisation of and investment in digital development
- It helps bring all of the different elements of the organisation together, irrespective of technical skills
- It helps overcome the increasingly irrelevant difference between 'front of house' and 'back office'
- It helps highlight why some digital projects might fail (for example, because they don't key into your overall purpose)
- it promotes a virtuous cycle between the 'just do it' ethos and feeding intelligence about impact back into the organisation
Download the Consultation Document
To encourage people to comment on the Digital Benchmarks model, we have provided the full text in an editable Word document. You can download this using the link below.
Please send any comments either by email to the address below, or by adding them as comments to this Word document. We cannot guarantee to incorporate all comments, but we welcome your feedback, and thanks in advance for helping us to make this tool as useful as possible.
The Collections Trust has published this initial model for Digital Benchmarks for discussion and consultation with our Collections Link community. We want your comments and feedback, both on the principle of benchmarking, but also on the specifics of the tool - is it detailed enough? What have we missed? Do we go far enough in terms of promoting engagement and the production of Linked Open Data?
This consultation phase will run between now and the 28th February, after which we will finalise the model and publish the Digital Benchmarking Tool for everyone to use.
Once the tool is live, we will be working with partners in the sector to help deploy it. We will also be rolling out a series of support services during 2013-14, focussed on supporting different aspects of the model, from digital content creation to delivery, syndication, marketing and revenue. Our aim is both to provide a useful tool for museums and arts organisations and to roll out strategically targeted support services to help them grow.
Have your say by tweeting #digitalbenchmarks or emailing Nick Poole at email@example.com.