LEDs that communicate could create ‘smart’ environments

Disney researchers have demonstrated that light bulbs can do more that just illuminate our rooms — they could communicate with each other, with objects and with the Internet, to create ‘smart’ environments.Transmitting

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.thehindu.com

The IoT is something all arts technologists need to consider adding to their world.  Beacons were a start.  Google Glass was interesting.  Disney is clearly moving into new arenas with RFID and now using light as a stream of information.

See on Scoop.itArts Management and Technology

Google Analytics Bounce Rate Reference Guide

Do you understand what is meant by ‘bounce rate’ in your Google Analytics? Do you want to know how to reduce it? This post explains everything

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.razorsocial.com

It could be that your site is designed with all the information on the home page, but that would be rare.  Bounce rate is a useful analytic point for arts organizations wanting to increase engagement online.  The strategy is to have content feeders on the home page.

See on Scoop.itArts Marketing

Six Tips To Stay Ahead of Social Media Trends

Besides new features added to Facebook, LinkedIn Twitter and Pinterest, new social media sites are launched that do different things. Being on the forefront of social media changes can be accomplished. Here are a few suggestions on ways you can do just that.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.socialmediatoday.com

Arts organizations need to be focused on their work, so these quick and easy short cuts can save a lot of time. Case in point, Facebook is rolling out yet again another marketing algorithm using data from users ‘likes’. If I didn’t have that coming to me from a NYTimes Bits email subscription, I could have missed it. Use your technology to serve you (not the other way around)

See on Scoop.itArts Marketing

What Does Digital Mean to Your Arts Organization and its Customer?

I read a lot of McKinsey and Company newsletters, posts and articles.  While they are rarely nonprofit focused with even fewer pieces involving the arts, I find their insights immensely useful.  As we all know, business is business at the end of the day, and McKinsey and Company is a leader in that space.

A recent article by Karel Dörner and David Edelman What Digital Really Means struck a chord for me. From a business perspective, it seems that everyone wants to and, in fact, needs to be successful in the digital sphere. Yet, the word digital  itself is a vexed in today’s discourse, in the arts and in the news.   It means different things to different people within a company, to the company’s markets, and then there is the company’s own language in its strategies and implementation of said digital technologies.  If you think about, how might you answer the following questions? What about someone not at your pay-grade? Is your company deploying digital initiatives? Is it engaging digitally with its audiences? Is it implementing new digital solutions to handle customer relations, facility needs, HR or payroll? Who is aware of the various digital interventions in your organization?

So what can digital mean to an arts enterprise? As Edleman and Dörner note: “Business leaders must have a clear and common understanding of exactly what digital means to them and, as a result, what it means to their business.”  They break down digital into 3 realms:  creating value at new frontiers, creating value in the core business line, and building organization capacities. The first two focus on the product and its audience, the last on the internal operations of the organization.  So,what does this mean for the arts?

CREATING VALUE AT NEW FRONTIERS

Much of what we read in the arena of the arts and digital programming focuses on creating new values — streaming productions, adding beacons to customize the customer journey, and finding digital art-making journeys to engage the customer.  Many of these opportunities create new audiences and/or have potential for developing earned income streams.  Yet, there is a financial, technical, or human resource hurdle to achieve this in many arts organizations.  Thus, it requires focused strategy, investment, and planned implementation if an organization wants to try a new frontier in digital programming.

CREATING VALUE IN THE CORE BUSINESS LINE

If new frontiers are difficult, what about using  technology to deepen their core business? This entails a “an obsession with understanding each step of a customer’s purchasing journey—regardless of channel—and thinking about how digital capabilities can design and deliver the best possible experience, across all parts of the business.”  Thus, creating value in core business requires staff with knowledge in how to mine data and/or provide  avenues for fruitful data collection.  Edelman and Dörner break it down into 4 core capabilities:

Proactive decision making. Data-informed decisions that “deliver content and experiences that are personalized and relevant to the customer.” This comes down to customer customization in at least the purchase path. Customization is, of course, difficult in the program side of the equiation, because the journey through the art itself is at times quite prescribed.  Successful interventions in this realm include places like the Cleveland Museum of Arts Gallery One and performance experiences like Sleep No More.

Contextual interactivity requires knowing how your customer interacts with your brand in real-time.  How can the arts become better at knowing what their audiences are doing, on what platform, and when?  Again, this requires a staff person who can pull real-time analytics and engage with customers where they are and in a way they understand.  The next step is to empower a process of communication and engagement for all staff.

Real-time Automation is something we as customers expect and is already in the hands of most arts organizations. Yet, automation is rarely implemented in arts organization’s communication strategies or systems.  Most CRM’s allow for individualized, timed communications depending on a customer’s behavior.  The key is to identify key customer positions, triggers and messages.   For example, if a first time visitor at a theatre has a higher likelihood of returning for a second time if s/he receives an encouraging and informative email and social media contact within 24 hours of seeing a show, why wait to send weekly emails. Furthermore, why send marketing pushes and not interesting communications.

Finally, Journey – focused Innovation allows the customer to adapt and expand with the company in a way driven by the company.  This arena is, like automation, quite easy for many arts organizations to do.  A concierge approach via technology.  It, however, requires significant real-time communication, product message pivoting, and unique opportunities for interaction to engage customers on an individual basis.  This is often too time intensive for a limited staff in an arts organization to accomplish.

BUILDING ORGANIZATION CAPACITIES

Having a strong digital strategy requires leadership in arts organizations to think differently. They must quickly adapt  organization capacities. The organization needs a leader to model a digital mindset and provide the means for a strong digital infrastructure.  Technology can no longer be a low-priority investment. Furthermore, it must become a thread that weaves throughout the organization for day-to-day business as well as the customer-facing work detailed above.

Digital opportunities abound.  It takes a savvy arts leader and manager to navigate the perpetually shifting environment.  Curious if you are that arts leader? If you want to understand or raise your digital quotient, pend some time with McKinsey’s work of the same title:  http://www.mckinsey.com/features/raise_your_digital_quotient. 

And share your successes!  Every arts organization that shares its success garners more success for the field.

Who moved our artisan cheese?

I have many favorite business writers: Daniel Pink, Malcolm Gladwell, Jane McGonigal, Jim Collins, to name a few.  But at these moments of strikes and closures in the performing arts industry (primarily Operas and Symphonies at this moment in time), I hearken back to an old favorite:  WHO MOVED MY CHEESE by Drs. Spencer Johnson and Kenneth Blanchard.

I have been teaching arts management since the fall of our survival of Y2K and have worked in the industry well before that.  The tropes or myths of the dying arts field has echoed throughout my 20 year career.  I believe that the arts are still very much alive, but their (1970s-esque?) institutions are suffering. The organization lifecycle issues demonstrated in the cartoons of WHO MOVED MY CHEESE is comic evidence of why Jim Collins’ models of success in GOOD TO GREAT work. Leaders and well meaning Boards of Directors for the arts seem to forget that they are running a business that abides by these same frameworks.

a) Adapting to change is critical for business success
b) Level 5 leadership is necessary for third-sector (really all sector) greatness
c) Businesses must have the “right people on the bus” — not your best friend, not someone who “knows the industry,” but people with the passion and the skills to move the organization forward
d) Organizations must understand their multiple constituents varied needs and wants
e) Each organizations must know its unique business model: what is the economic driver? its mission-critical programs, etc. (your flywheel and your hedgehog per Jim Collins)
f) Leaders must model a “stop doing” or “don’t do” list of personal work and organization programs.  This is critical to prevent the slow decay created through continual institutional isomorphism

High-quality, exciting, engaging work that connects to the community will feed an arts organization’s psychic energy and economic coffers.  For some, that might include a simulcast or it  crowdsourcing content for an upcoming program. For others, it might be taking the art to the street without a technological intervention or creating one-to-one relationships via peer-to-peer engagement as demonstrated at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.  Organizations embracing these practices are succeeding across the United States.  EMC Arts celebrates and supports these changes through their programs and each disciplines’ support associations share their successes in their news.

Looking for an arts management text to walk through the best practices? Michael Kaiser and Brett Egan’s THE CYCLE: A PRACTICAL APPROACH TO MANAGING ARTS ORGANIZATIONS provides a model that meets these frameworks regardless of size or mission. It has some pervasive underlying assumptions (definitions of family are broad but examples belie the urban wealthy arts supporter) but its frameworks are sound.

Regardless, it is important to note that ALL organizations go through a standard business lifecycle.

Screenshot 2014-11-02 10.19.28Change allows programs and organizations to evolve and lifecycle dynamics reveal the findings of Jim Collins’ work. He demonstrates with data that very few organizations maintain vibrancy across a  period of time of even 10 years.

There is no shame in cutting budgets or rethinking programs. Without evaluation and adaptation organizations are producing the same thing over and over and wondering where everyone has gone.  Over 70% of Americans believe in the importance of the arts, so arts organizations need to adapt to their current circumstances and move forward with their passions showing. In many ways, arts organizations in particular should embody the work of a strong start-up culture and continually build, measure, learn, repeat.  But that argument is a post for another day.