How to Make Data Fundamental to Your Future

A new report from the Data-Driven Initiative (DDI) has highlighted the value of data to businesses working within the creative industries, and outlined a number of ways in which creators, practitioners and companies can use data more effectively.

While the white paper is focused on the creative industries within the Edinburgh city and region deal catchment area, it’s findings are relevant to creative businesses and practitioners across the whole of Scotland.

The report consulted organisations aross the 16 sub-sectors which comprise the creative industries in Scotland to identify the needs, challenges and opportunities of the sector concerning Data-Driven Innovation.

The research asked five key questions to individuals and companies across the creative industries:

  • Talent – what data related knowledge or skills, or skills gaps, do you have?
  • Research – do you have ideas for innovating with your data that you would like to research further?
  • Adoption – is the company or organisation using data as a daily practice?
  • Datasets – what datasets do you hold or would find useful to combine to gain insights
  • Entrepreneurship – what new innovations would you aspire to create in artistic work, audience experiences, or products and services that use/generate data?

The research found that found that there is a huge variation in data capability across the 16 sub-sectors, from those already excelling with data in artistic and creative content, analytics, and the innovative design of products and services; to those competently using their data for insights within their business; and to those hesitating just a few steps beyond the GDPR or information literacy.

There was a general appreciation of the value and the power of data to provide insights, enable more informed decision making, increasing efficiency and developing new business models. However, industry participants emphasised a lack of data training opportiunities, which focused on their own particular requirements.

The interviews also highlighted an appetite for doing more with data, across all levels of expertise. However, several key needs were identified which will have to be addressed before data can become more widely used

  • Skills – Access to training, with guidance on creative technology and selecting software and data platforms. (A barrier for certain sectors is affordability, so recruiting new graduates with data expertise without knowing the benefits cannot be justified)
  • Information – Guidance beyond GDPR, including what can be done with data, data sharing, data ethics and protocols, managing & storing data
  • Insights – Raising awareness of the potential of data through successful examples of others’ activity in the sector, demonstrations from leaders in the field, as well as international & local innovations
  • Innovation Support – Guidance towards innovation, workshops to facilitate ideation, harness emerging research and new creative technology, assistance in collaborations, and a supported process to bring innovations to market readiness.

To address these issues, the white paper proposes four areas of activity:

  • Data Capacity – Upskilling and New Talent, Management and Processes, Trust and Ethics
  • New Business Models – Support to draw out value from their data, research new modes of engagement and transaction with audiences, customers and clients
  • Realising Innovative Ideas – Collaborative partnering on new developments and invention, and providing assistance to access innovation funds and guide through design innovation processes
  • New Experiences – Informing and inspiring on how to harness data-driven creative technology, supporting and providing space for experimentation with creative technology to develop new experiences

In response, the DDI, with support from the University of Edinburgh and City Region Deal, is providing assistance to all 16 creative industry sectors through a wide range of activities including:

  • workshops
  • demonstrations and seminars on emerging new data-driven creative technology
  • collaborative ideation workshops with academics and industry
  • creative space, to test and experiment with digital technology and equipment, and to give creative partners the opportunity to test new experiences with potential audiences.

The Edinburgh Futures Institute is also developing new under-graduate and post graduate programmes in creative data and continuing professional development courses for developing skills in creative workforce.

Caroline Parkinson, lead author of the report and Data Driven Initiative Sector Lead, Creative Industries, said:

The creative and cultural sector in the city region is dynamic, ingenious and collaborative and over the last year have responded with enthusiasm to our increased activity in data-driven innovation and creative technology. They have been severely impacted by the coronavirus crisis, and this has intensified the need for data and digital skills we observed during the consultation. To support their ideas to fruition or assist digital pivot or creation of new audience engagements will also require the best possible innovation support.

The research was undertaken in advance of the publication of the Scottish Technology Ecosystem Review, aka The Logan Review, but it complements and supports the recommendations on the creation of a Tech-Scaler national backbone and Tech-Scaler start-up fund, the Investment Seekers grant and Investment Funding within the Integrated Ecosystem grant funding, and the Student Internship grant to support business awareness.

Chris Speed, one of the report’s co-authors and the Chair of Design Informatics, Director of Creative Informatics Cluster, & Director of Innovation at the Edinburgh Futures Institute said:

This timely report not only sets out a vision for Data-Driven Creative Industries across Edinburgh and regions, but it provides the stepping-stones to achieving it. In doing so it places Scotland at the cusp of a vital opportunity to energise all sectors from advertising to craft, design to music, and performing arts to publishing, placing the nation at the forefront of international creative innovation.

You can read the whole White Paper here.

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