I say ‘problem’, of course I mean problems. Lots of them. (And not just in the cultural sector either.) So it’s interesting that last week saw the launch of number of initiatives that might just help improve digital skills and literacy within the UK cultural sector. (In case you missed it, the UK Museums Computer Group did a handy round up.)
It’s reassuring to see some practical (funded) responses to some of the issues that Daf James and I uncovered in our research on Structuring for Digital Success back in 2018. That research saw us survey around 60 organisations across the globe to find out how they structure and resource their digital activity. It revealed a number of challenges, many of which are linked to digital skills and — more specifically — a lack of them.
Skills we value vs. skills we have
We asked our respondents which digital skills they believed to be most valuable. These were:
- Technical leadership — the skill of guiding the organisation to make sensible decisions around the implementation of digital technologies and developing a stable, scalable digital infrastructure.
- Content management and editorial — this set of skills reflects the content focus of most of the digital teams we surveyed and points to digital teams having editorial ownership and managing content delivery to the platforms they support.
- Data management and analysis — these skills enable the digital team to understand user behaviour, which can steer the design and development of digital experiences, and inform decision-making around priorities for digital investment.
We also asked which of a range of digital skills were under-represented. Those that came out top were data management/analysis (60%), web/app development (56%) and technical leadership (51%).
So why are the skills that we value the most — namely tech leadership and data analysis — the same skills that are most lacking on digital teams?