Sunday, May 5, 2013

Adapting new technology, merely following trend change or differentiating oneself?

It is interesting to observe how technology changes consumer behavior and leads businesses in new directions. The speed and scale of impact of technological change differ from industry to industry, and tactics and methods of adaptation as well as the consequences of new technology in different businesses also vary from one to another.

Changes in technological trend in arts management sector have been making great deal of impact on almost every aspect of the businesses; any arts organization emphasizing interactive relationship with its customers created social media accounts; many small-sized entities try to take advantage of generating support through crowd-souring service such as Kickstarter; fundraising gala/balls add in quick events like live mobile text giving, among many others.

So what does this mean to adapt new technology into arts organizations’ strategy? 
Is this to follow trend and stay relevant to the industry or using as a tool to differentiate themselves? Many museums and other arts organizations (or any non profit organization for this matter), even though they try hard for developing differentiating marketing strategy, more often than not  they end up struggling and only being busy barely following the new technology trends and suffer maintaing and managing them. Then, how can an organization engage technological changes and use as an opportunity?

A best practice that realized this opportunity is National Postal Museum and Andy Warhol Museum’s mobile application with Augmented Reality function. One of the technological opportunities what not-for-profit organizations can take advantage is adopting mobile technology, which often times allows free or low-cost initiation. Furthermore, ownership of

smartphones increase regardless of age groups and there’s many areas arts organizations can explore. As AR became major function many of the travel and tourism related applications try to provide using the ubiquity of handheld devices, National Postal Museum and Andy Warhol Museum came up with simple idea but made it unique and successful. Basically, National Postal Museum’s application Owney the Dog allows people to be informed from 3D figure, the dog Owney(a mascot of the U.S. Postal service in 19th century), when they place their phones close to objects they want to know more about. Andy Warhol Museum developed add-on for the AR application Layar and allows users to explore city of Pittsburgh and New York through the eyes of Andy Warhol, as the locations are populated with stories and historical moments in Warhol’s life. It is to offer more ample and profound experience for their visitors through self-guided and real-time tours/explanation, as well as providing added-value with more fun, unique, and interesting experience. For organizations like arts museums, where differentiating services for better customer experience means a lot for their existence, this simple but unique idea that puts their status as nimble-footed entity (at that time they were) in the field helps them to stand out and become a leader.

I wondered what internal capability or attitude supports to bring this sort of result and be better even slightly from competitors under given circumstances facing same trend changes.
Strategic capability does not automatically grow inside the firm, and differentiating factors do not happen in one moment. How it becomes successful differentiating factor is by looking at trend change from different angle and asking right questions;

Instead of asking ‘What is happening with increasing smartphone users?’, rather ask ‘What does increase of smartphone ownership mean to museums?’;
Instead of asking ‘What technologies are available for us to add-on?’, rather ask ‘How can we utilize technology to serve our visitors in more meaningful way?’;
Instead of asking ‘Are we doing good with telling our stories using the technologies?’, rather ask ‘Is there any better way to tell our museum’s story to its audiences?’;
Instead of asking ‘What are significant trend that we should consider for future plan?’, rather ask ‘Is there smart way to incorporate trends and enhance our environment and enrich audience experience?’

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