On the Digital Transformation in the Museum Industry

We are, all of us, living increasingly digital lives.

Many art institutions are now examining digital culture and its impact and making use of various digital media, digital platforms and digital technologies to connect to new audiences and to engage in a dialogue with existing ones. According to the “JWT The Future 100” trend report, this is one of the major global trends of this year. In the same report, it is stated that consumers, especially the so-called Millennials, are now taking good design as a given when it comes to digital services and other commodities. How do these developments affect the museum industry?

First of all, for any art institution or museum organization to be able to create a strong, meaningful and comprehensive presence in the rapidly evolving digital world, it – like any other organization attempting to thrive there – needs to create a holistic digital strategy, preferably with measurable, attainable, realistic and timely goals. Add service-specific roadmaps and action plans, and keep updating the strategy as well as the related documents annually, and the organization is ready to start creating digital revenue.

As with many other projects, the best way to get started in creating a digital strategy is by benchmarking.

And when it comes to benchmarking the digital dimension, in the museum industry, one better get started with Tate.

Last year, Tate attracted almost one million unique visitors in its website per month. That makes almost 12 million online visitors per year.

What’s more, Tate has also conducted several in-depth surveys on who these website visitors are and what content they visit, and published the research results in the Tate website. Tate has also published numerous white papers on its digital projects online – including its digital strategy document.

Having a digital strategy is definitely a contemporary prerequisite for success in the web and the rest of the digital world.

But to build a truly digital brand, what has Tate done differently, compared with many other institutions?

Meet John Stack.

In order to achieve its goals in the digital world, Tate recruited a Head of Digital Transformation.

It was Stack who was the visionary and the architect of the Tate’s “fifth gallery,” its new online presence. Stack’s main task when collaborating with others on the digital in Tate was raising important questions about organizational structure, marketing strategy, product and service design, and return on investment, and asking, what would it take for Tate to be a truly digital organization?

The concise idea that Stack and his team eventually came up with was crucial for Tate’s success. It still forms the basis of Tate’s digital presence. That is the idea of “digital as a dimension of everything”.

I think this idea can be applied to any contemporary digital strategy.

According to Tate’s digital strategy document for the three-year period of 2013 to 2015, Tate’s audiences will have digital experiences that:

  • increase their enjoyment and understanding of art
  • provoke their thoughts and invite them to participate
  • promote the gallery programme
  • provide them with easy access to information
  • entice them to explore deeper content
  • encourage them to purchase products, join Tate and make donations
  • present an elegant and functional interface whatever their device
  • take place on the platforms and websites they use
  • minimise any obstacles they may encounter

Read more in the Tate website, see the SlideShare presentation on Tate’s digital transformation by John Stack, and check out the article on “finding the motivation behind a click” by John Stack and Elena Villaespesa:

Me and Mr. Jorma Ollila

So I got to feature in the same Wired Magazine article as Nokia’s former CEO Mr. Jorma Ollila once.

I was 16 at the time. You can read the full article online here:


This article offers a brief glimpse into the world of the Finnish company Nokia during its emergence and heyday.

It has been over 15 years since Steve Silberman visited Finland and that article was published in the Wired Magazine, but much of what has been written there is still relevant. Nokia’s R&D department was confident already before the turn of the millennium, that wireless technology will evolve in the direction of what we might call “augmented reality”. In fact the term seems to may have been coined by Nokia’s Hannu Nieminen, head of Nokia’s Visual Communications Technology laboratory back in the days.

Here’s a quote from the aforementioned article, “Just say Nokia”:

“– The long-range vision, however, is delivery of what Nieminen calls “augmented reality.” Once we stop thinking of the phone as a handset with a keyboard, it becomes the point of contact between the personal bubble and the global datasphere – it could be a transmitter/receiver worn on our belts or as a piece of jewelry. The display technologies will, in Nieminen’s words, evolve toward “applications that bring the information close to your senses”: eyeglasses, earphones – wearable wireless. Combined with locational services like GPS, the network could not only know where you are, it could also know where you are in relation to others.”

Sound familiar, Apple and Google?

Anyway, I believe the future of digital media and tech will be in “augmenting” our experience of the world. This, I believe, is why apps like Spotify that on the one hand promote serendipitious discovery and on the other hand are based on utilizing the data of the user’s previous actions and preferences, are gaining in popularity.