Being Digital By Default: Creating a People-Led Digital Strategy

Rachel Coldicutt, UK

Is it possible for a digital strategy to be about people rather than technology? Can an arts organisation define a digital approach without stressing the importance of a single technology platform? And how can a "digital by default" approach transform your organisation? This paper will look at how digital innovation can transform organisations, create efficiencies and uncover new creative opportunities.

Taking the Happenstance Project as a case study, we will show how digital work can become more instinctive, creative, affordable and productive by prioritising people and process over products, and demonstrate how this can result in longer-term strategic change throughout an entire organisation - a change not simply limited to its web or digital teams.

Happenstance is a technologist-in-residence programme that places pairs of technologists from a range of different backgrounds - including design, software development and content creation - into cultural organisations for an intensive period of co-creation. The pilot for the project was produced by Caper in 2012 and involved three UK visual arts organisations - Site Gallery, Lighthouse and Spike Island, and a research partner, The University of Warwick. The pilot programme is one of eight Digital R&D Projects funded in the UK by National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts; Arts Council England; and the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Further versions of the project are now planned in the UK with other museums, galleries and cultural organisations, with support from Arts Council England.

We will examine the potential risk and impact of a number of innovation models, and show some of the benefits and opportunities of taking an "agile" approach to strategic development, drawing on examples from the Culture Hack programme and Caper's development of innovative digital prototypes for a number of UK arts organisations.