Wednesday, April 1, 2015

What Happens to Art Under IT-enabled Business Trends?

Technology has been changing our lives dramatically in the past decades, and will continue this “revolution” as visualized in the article Ten IT-enabled Business Trends for the Decade Ahead. Inspired by the stated 10 trends and a perceived transformation of government, health care and education, I’m starting to think about those influences on art, which is another big domain within the public sector.

Assisted by increasingly advanced technology, artists are able to maximize their creativity and create more and more engaging art experience for audience. A good example would be the integration of multi-media into live theatre, dance and music performances. But technology not only brings changes to art forms for artists, but also brings innovation to administration for management people and overall service for audience, which align pretty well with many of the ten identified IT-enabled business trends.

First of all, like almost every company in this world, arts organizations are highly engaged in social matrix, both internally and externally. Theatre companies are using Teamwork – an online project management system – to coordinate internal work, and Salesforce – a cloud computing system – to manage external customer relationships. Arts organizations are actively using social media channels to better promote events and interact with patrons. E-commerce websites like Etsy and ArtFire are providing social platforms for millions of crafters to sell their unique products and share ideas and experience within an online micro-community.

Speaking of digitalization, art is becoming more and more accessible to audience. With an app on mobile phone or tablet, audience can virtually visit Metropolitan Museum of Art at any time and from any place with Internet in this world. Some arts festivals have developed their own apps to provide detailed event information for audience, such as performance schedule, dining and map to improve customer service and enhance festival experience. The digital distribution of music, though raising piracy issues, still enables many unheard but talented independent artists to reach far more audience than they could have decades ago and sustain themselves through producing music, diversifying the previously heavily centralized industry dominated by major labels.

How about “big data”? Unlike many other companies in the private sector, art products seem to be less market-driven. But this doesn’t mean “big data” is useless to arts organizations. On the contrary, it’s very important. Though the shows planned for a season can be less market-driven (usually largely subject to the personal taste of the Artistic Director), the way shows are delivered can benefit a lot from useful data. For example, box officers can use data to increase ticket sales through well-planned ticketing strategies. Customer service manager can use data to analyze audience’s habits and preferences so as to customize services and cultivate more repeat audience.

This article just gives some examples about how technology is changing the art field. There are many other ways. Like many other companies in the private sector, art is also greatly influenced by those identified IT-enabled business trends.

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