Last updated: 10.01.14

How central is digital technology to cultural organisations?

Digital technology has come a long way over the past 20 years, and is increasingly integral to the country's cultural organisations.

This is the view of Econsultancy's Ben Davis, who commented on the value of online platforms from on-site touch screens, audio apps and social media to responsive websites and interactive projects that are now a common feature of establishments like the Tate.

Referring to a study conducted by MTM for Arts Council England, Nesta and the Arts and Humanities Research Council tracking the use of digital technology in such companies between 2013 and 2015, he said cultural organisations view digital as a means of attracting attention to a site-specific event.

The study revealed that nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) of these firms view digital as central to marketing, while 60 per cent believe it to be essential to preservation and archiving.

"Many organisations say they have tried new practices in the last year, with some activities such as live streaming and digital-first content creation having doubled. This indicates adoption is fairly fast-paced," Mr Davis said.

However, a lack of staff training is having an impact on companies' adoption of digital practices, with 40 per cent of respondents claiming they are constrained by a shortage of technical in-house skills.

Furthermore, 41 per cent stated their workforce lacks skills in data analysis and customer relationship management; 40 per cent require help with software development; and 39 per cent cited skills shortages in user interface design.

The organisations that are falling behind when it comes to rolling out adequate digital training could see themselves overtaken by competitors who are capitalising on the benefits technology offers, making learning and development more important than ever.

A positive sign highlighted in the research is that 90 per cent of companies surveyed said they are active on social media. 

According to a recent study carried out by the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development, platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are valuable to driving forward engagement and training opportunities, but too few firms are recognising these benefits.