Ahead of our appearance at this year's Tessitura European Conference on 5th November in Manchester, I wanted to share some thoughts on why navigating your organisation’s digital do-to-dot is so important; and maybe challenge you all to have a think about what this means in your own unique context. That way, you can come to our session with questions that you can put to myself and the panel! The goal of this session is to arm you with some practical things you can do the very next day when you’re back at work to get your own digital transformation roadmapping underway.

Often the focus for all cultural organisations is the commercial one. How do we:

  • Sell more tickets
  • Drive more memberships
  • Support fundraising activity
  • Get more footfall
  • Get more data
  • Use more data
  • Drive efficiencies
  • Manage our archive better
  • Drive revenue from new sources
  • Tell our story
  • Engage with our customers better/more personally

As you can see from the high-level digital impact pictogram below, digital literally touches every element of every organisation. Historically these “dots” have been procured in isolation, or in small collectives, mainly driven by a lack of connectivity, a lack of integration to each other through API’s and no united thinking at a boardroom or senior team level in the organisation. This is often exacerbated by a real lack of digital knowledge at the senior levels of management or even a fear of it.

are you ready for digital transformation? digital infographic

More and more often, we see the senior and, indeed, middle management teams stepping up and taking the lead on this subject. There are a few commonalities that present themselves in successful teams as follows:

  • They work hard to create and maintain a coalition of the willing
  • They understand, demonstrate and communicate well that digital evolution will make and save money to support other activity. This then gets backing from the board and, by extension, the finance team
  • They work with external, objective third parties to help them build the case for the change that’s needed
  • The coalition members work together to start creating a small amount of momentum and building the next steps
  • This enables any sceptics to see results and brings them into the fold
  • They have a complete ‘What’s In It For Me/You?’ focus, showing their line managers, peers and colleagues how digital makes their working lives easier, better and more rewarding

The discussion needs to start somewhere, even if it's not at the top. It’s also an opportunity to show that you are motivated, innovative and prepared to lead.

There is undoubtedly an organisational cultural factor that individuals and teams need to be cognizant of, but that is where the coalition really comes into its own. By building this cross-departmental consensus you start to build the momentum that is the key to successful delivery of change.
There are a few key things that all coalitions need to acknowledge if they are to be resilient and persuasive. For example:

  • Accept individually and agree collectively that the changes are needed - digital disruption is here to stay, accept or wither on the vine. It is going to happen - the choice for me is whether you make it happen for you or let it happen to you.
  • Accept it will take time and you can only move as fast as the slowest person. As such, a key task is to gain buy-in at all levels so there are few if any blockers on our journey
  • Building an internal ambassador group can gain and keep support networks internally
  • Don't be stalled by the seeming enormity of the task
  • Remember any journey starts with one step…
  • You need to have a defined digital strategy, but it’s equally as important to have a realistic delivery roadmap (plan) to get you where you need to be over time

Keep to the mantra that digital evolution is “everyone's and no ones’ responsibility”.

What if you're the Head of Sales, Box Office Manager, the Artistic or Music Director, the Marketing Manager, the Head of Finance... How do you feel about organisations that do this properly? How can you amplify the values of your organisation through digital? How can you develop relationships with your attendees, supporters and participants? How can you maximise earned and development income for your organisation? How do you validate your own internal areas of best practice? Can your organisation afford to stand still (which, with the speed of change in the digital world is actually going backwards)? What small things can you do tomorrow that will begin the digital transformation journey? Who can you approach to have a conversation with? How can you build that coalition? Who are the digital natives that you can lean on? Where can you get knowledge about how others have done this?

group of business people in a boardroom discussing

Above all remember the patron view.

Lead the change from the coal face, from the comms office, from the box office, from development and you’ll begin to reap rewards.

Every organisation is different but some basics remain - your audience’s needs, fundraising activity, slicker ticketing, over-delivering on expectations internally and externally, making and saving money. All Digital Transformation does is assist in doing the basics better.

To find out how AD is leading the way in the culture sector, you can come to our session at this year’s Tessitura European Conference on Monday the 5th at 1.30pm. You can add it to your schedule for the conference here. We have a couple of experts telling their stories and we’ve allowed plenty of time for your questions!