Power to the people

Why is it that when we talk about digital strategies and transformation there is an exponential focus on technological infrastructures and considerably less consideration of the living and breathing workforce? Cat Leaver on how to get the most out of your team

Working in digital, there is a lot of emphasis on technology and its advances. Yet, at times, we forget that behind every machine, algorithm and screen is a real person.

Traditionally, businesses have always focussed on ‘the system’ rather than ‘the people’. For years investors have looked at financial statements and tangible assets as a measure of success, but research from Deloitte shows that organisations that actively embrace emerging technologies to increase their global reach and connectivity are valued higher.


All this is great news for arts organisations as they have the opportunity to react and adapt, investing hours (which you have control over) rather than cash (which is limited).

Adopting a business model that embraces digital not only drives productivity and allows you to create more value from your existing resources, but also adds measurable worth to your organisation. This new worth is derived mostly from people: that is to say your staff, your customers and audiences.

Cat Leaver

As the saying goes, you are only as strong as your weakest link. And so there is a clear and immediate need to invest in creating a more digitally-savvy team and working environment.

This may involve a retraining schedule that provides staff with the opportunity to upskill. For this you can look at e-Learning approaches and collaborative online spaces that encourage knowledge share. Be sure to also evaluate the tools that are at your team’s disposal, assess- ing if, as a company, you are empowering or limiting their potential.

Digitally-enabled teams thrive in the workplace, with research proving they drive more revenue per head and deliver improved outputs. In order to achieve success in transforming your workforce, you need strong digital leadership from the top-down and advocacy throughout. All business models are shaped by the attitudes and actions of its leaders – and this should be no different in the arts.

Four key trends we’ve witnessed at We Are Ad that are gathering pace in the arts:

  • Self-service: evident in the increasing move towards online ticketing and eTickets
  • Personalisation: allowing for your audiences to have more tailored experiences with your organisation, whether that be interest-based emails and personalised messaging or customisable web experiences (i.e. filtering, cookie-based results)
  • Social merchandising: crowdsourcing, reviews and so on, that shape the way in which you ‘sell’ your organisation and tickets
  • Collaborative consumption and co-creation: tapping into peer- to-peer platforms to create new communities and marketplaces for your organisation.

Success in digital really is all about individuals and not machines. So ask yourself: how digitally able are my people?