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11
Measurable benefits
When an institution considers making a
major investment in a new technology,
the decision-makers and financial stake-
holders (e.g. public and/or private fund-
ing bodies, sponsors, etc.) will ask for the
expected and measurable benefits. There
are two main categories of benefits: low-
ering costs for institutional core functions
through improved institutional processes
and workflows (mainly internal view), and
enhancing attraction and service provi-
sion to customers (mainly external view).
An institution can only afford to invest in
a technology if it can reasonably expect to
achieve a clear and sustainable benefit. This
must be assessed taking into account the
type and size of the institution, the insti-
tutional function that would be enhanced
(e.g. collection management or exhibition),
and the ratio of costs of using the technol-
ogy vs cost savings through improved proc-
esses and/or additional revenues through,
for example, more paying visitors, shop
items sold, licensing fees, subscriptions. For
the many institutions for which the latter
economic benefits will not be feasible, cost
savings and other measurable benefits such
as increased use of online and/or in-house
services (e.g. download of study or learn-
ing material, increased user satisfaction, etc.)
should constitute the business case.
Total cost of ownership
Here we cannot address the many impor-
tant issues involved in cost/benefit assess-
ments. However, for the present purpose it
should suffice to note that the total cost of
ownership includes the initial investment
for developing and implementing a tech-
nological application as well as all further
costs of running the application/service
on a regular basis (e.g. during the opening
time of the institution or 24 hours/7 days
a week), including technical administration,
upgrades, etc. as well as staff training and
other organisational costs.
A PANORAMA OF TECHNOLOGIES
W
hich technologies that go beyond,
for example, a simple Web presence
or a low-cost collection management appli-
cation are suitable for small cultural herit-
age institutions without their running the
risk of adopting technologies that become
unsustainable and unmanageable? With dig-
ital technologies developing rapidly, the
heritage sector needs some mechanism to
be able to identify those technologies that
will bring benefits and provide a certain
amount of sustainability over a reasonable
time horizon. Since March 2002, this has
been one of the tasks of DigiCULT.
The project has identified and evaluated
over 20 (families of) technologies, proven
ones as well as currently developing and
newly emerging technologies, with respect
to their benefit, potential, and appropriate-
ness to the cultural heritage sector. One
of the evaluation criteria has been the
question of whether a featured technol-
ogy could be exploited by different types
and sizes of organisations and if it can be
brought to use easily and is stable enough
to run. In the monitoring process, the term
`technology' has been understood and used
in its broadest sense to cover methods,
standards, hardware, software applications, as
well as interesting concepts (e.g. Learning
Objects) and service models (e.g. ASP).
I
n the diagram above, the technologies
are clustered according to two dimen-
sions: the size of the institutions likely to
adopt certain technologies, and the time-
frame for this adoption.
All of the `technologies' included in the
diagram are covered in a chapter of one
of the DigiCULT Technology Watch Reports
(2003, 2004
13
) and/or a DigiCULT Thematic
Issue (2002-2004
14
), which are already
or will shortly become available (free of
charge). The publications contain case stud-
ies of interesting projects, and the Reports
also provide many scenarios of how insti-
tutions in different domains (i.e. archives,
libraries, museums, galleries and cultural
sites) and of different size may implement
and use the technologies.
T
he following tables provide an over-
view of a technology analysis that
looked into the following questions: Which
technologies monitored by DigiCULT
will most likely find broader adoption by
institutions of different sizes, why (bene-
fits/TCO), and in what time span? We do
not present a detailed benefit/risk analy-
sis, which may be found in the DigiCULT
publications mentioned above. However, we
will assess the technologies from the per-
spective of smaller institutions.
13 DigiCULT (2003-2004), DigiCULT Technology Watch Reports, 1
+ 2[+ 3]. Available for download from: http://www.digicult.info/
pages/techwatch.php [note: Technology Watch Report 3 will become
available at the end of 2004].
14 DigiCULT (2002-2004), DigiCULT Thematic Issues, 1-6.
Available at: http://www.digicult.info/pages/Themiss.php