Once you have examined the potential benefits of applying digital approaches and technology in your organisation, you may feel that you need to shift your current ways of working in order to more effectively engage with these kinds of opportunities. Updating your business model is a good way to begin this process and to bring your staff and volunteers with you.
The Business Model Canvas developed by Alex Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur in 2010 is arguably the most widely used tool for business modelling and there are many resources to help you visualise your organisation using this method:
- AMAculturehive – Introducing the Business Model Canvas
- NESTA – The Business Model Canvas
- International Network for the Contemporary Performing Arts – Introduction to Business Models (pdf file 4.10 MB)
We will explore the Business Model Canvas in more detail in the next section and provide you with some guidance for how to apply it to your organisation.
The ‘canvas’ is a way of visualising your organisation as a set of building blocks. The right side of the canvas focuses on how you might generate funding and revenue and the left side is focused on the costs in terms of your day-to-day activities. The centre represents the value that you are creating – this is essentially your ‘value proposition’.
This resource is a modified version of the original canvas and is referred to here as the ‘digital canvas’. Using the same principles, the purpose of the digital canvas is to help prompt the same holistic thinking but with a particular focus on the digital offer of your heritage organisation.
It is recommended that you fill out the digital canvas as a team activity including your staff, volunteers, and trustees. It can really help clarify your position and will support your work toward developing a strategy or shifting your business model to incorporate a distinct digital offer.
How to use the digital canvas
1. Digital content – At the centre of the canvas is your ‘digital content’. If you are looking to change your business model and innovate in terms of what you offer, then content is at the heart of this. Digital content refers to any form of media that is either created digitally or may be digitised. Such assets include video content, digital images, photographs, written content, interpretation or 3D data such as scanned artefacts, models and reconstructions. Developing new assets and maximising the value of existing ones lie at the heart of your digital offer.
2. User experience – In this section you need to think about how your visitors and audience might interact with you digitally. Is it mainly through a ‘self-service’ approach where information or content is viewed or downloaded without staff interaction? Or is there a more personal service online whereby staff can be interacted with via email, chat or even online events held using video conferencing such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom?
3. Social media platforms and websites – This section refers to the digital channels you use to engage with your audiences. It is likely that you might use, or at least should consider using, multiple channels to reach your audiences. Think about how you use digital channels for each of the following phases of engagement:
- Awareness: How audiences learn about your organisation and what you do.
- Evaluation: The way in which audiences form an opinion about your organisation and make a decision about what you offer.
- Engagement: How audiences purchase tickets, visit or engage with your organisation and its offer.
- Experience: When and how audiences experience your organisation and its offer.
- Follow-up: Supporting audience engagement after the visit or event and developing a continued relationship.
4. Target audiences – Who are your main groups of audiences and how much do you know about their preferences in relation to engaging with you online or consuming digital content?
5. Sources of revenue – Whether through funding or through the sale or subscription of content, all the components on the right-hand side of the canvas combine to generate revenue and monetise digital content.
6. Creation and dissemination activities – The blocks on the left-hand side of the canvas refer to areas of costs. This section refers to the range of activities you may need to undertake to create and disseminate digital content through your digital channels. These include writing content, photography, scanning, social media posts, web development and maintenance, and marketing and communications. Who is responsible for this in your team and how much time will it need?
7. Current technology and skills – This section refers to the current equipment and hardware you are using in your organisation as well as the digital skill level of your staff. Where are you currently and does it match your aspirations for digital content development and use?
8. Supplier partnerships and support – This section should outline your key contacts, partners and suppliers relating to your digital offer.
9. Costs – All the elements from the left-hand side of the canvas should be funded and financed somehow. The costs section is the total cost of the resources you need, the activities you are engaged in and the partnerships and external resources you make use of.
If you complete this activity as a team you can decide whether each part supports the other. Does it make sense or do particular parts of the canvas need to be modified for your digital business model to work better? This is the basis of any change initiative and formation of strategy.
Now that you have an idea of how the canvas works and the approaches you can take to develop this collaboratively, download this business model canvas template (PDF file, 10.4kb). Spend some time with your staff and volunteers to discuss how your organisation fits in the canvas and where you might want to grow and change.
Browse related resources by smart tags:
Business model Digital content Digital engagement Social media User experience
Please attribute as: "Using the digital business model canvas to prioritise what to change (2022) by Dr Stephen Dobson supported by The Heritage Fund, licensed under CC BY 4.0