Digital transformation

This project aims to embed digital skills, processes and a digital culture across the organisation to make digital a dimension of everything that Tate does.


The Tate website was relaunched in April 2012. This project overhauled the website’s design, content, information architecture and backend systems. As outlined in the Tate Online Strategy 2010–12, there are plans to roll out the use of the new content management system to enable content authoring across the organisation.

During the two-year period this work was being undertaken, a number of significant changes occurred at Tate:

  • digital began appearing as a component of departmental and divisional strategies across the organisation, outlining ambitions to publish new digital content and build new digital communities
  • digitally focussed roles appeared in departments outside of the Tate Digital department to support these new strategies
  • wider use of blogs, social media, third-party websites, and associated “community manager” roles emerged, along with the need for new frameworks to support these activities
  • boundaries between organisational functions and activities blurred within digital spaces resulting need for more collaborative working practices that place audiences at the centre
  • new digital initiatives were discussed that were significantly more complex than previous endeavours and envisage a seamless, integrated use of technology

 The Tate Digital Strategy 2013–15 reflects these changes, outlining key developments across content, community and revenue, but also outlining the need for organisational change to deliver Tate’s digital ambitions. This project will take forward this organisational change.

Project aims

Digital and social media are starting to revolutionise a handful of functions of Tate, notably marketing and communication, and the publication of research online. There is potential for digital to revolutionise practice in many other areas. This will rely on a cultural change that will embed digital skills and knowledge throughout the organisation. Therefore, this project’s aims to normalise digital within Tate through the following objectives:

1 Establish a digital culture

We will establish a digital culture at Tate that:

  • maximises the potential for digital in all of Tate’s activities
  • is audience centred and responds to their needs
  • is not “digital first” but “digital in parallel and digital from the outset”
  • considers online and offline experiences as one
  • has multichannel and multimedia mindset
  • enables dialogue as well as broadcast modes of engagement
  • reflects the different audience needs
  • is sustainable
  • is iterative and evaluation lead
  • is centrally overseen, co-ordinated and governed but distributed across the organisation

2 Embed digital practice across Tate

Through embedding digital practice and skills across the organisation we will realise the full potential of digital in all areas.

Hub-and-spoke model

This will be supported by the move to a hub-and-spoke model enabling digital activity in “spoke“ departments across the organisation, coordinated and supported by a central digital “hub” department.

Tate digital handbook

The Digital Department will develop a Tate Digital Handbook (working title) containing policies and guidelines to support digital activity by the spoke departments.

Layered editorial control

Clear and well-understood layered editorial control will be established to facilitate devolved publishing of digital content across the organisation.

Editors around the organisation will be given responsibility for maintaining pages and sections of the website, supported by the Tate Digital department.

3 Embed digital skills across Tate

Digital is not a core competency of museums and galleries. If digital is to become a dimension of everything that Tate does, digital skills will need to be embedded across Tate.

Digital competencies

A set of digital competencies will be established for staff. They exact level of competency required will depend on roles.

Working with the Human Resources Department competencies will be embedded in:

  • recruitment
  • performance management
  • professional development

Digital training

To support the digital competencies and the specific needs of digital editors across the organisation, a programme of training will be established.

Digital editors

Editing of digital content will be devolved to a set of digital editors across the organisation. These individuals will work closely with the Tate Digital department and undertake creation and publishing of digital content.

4 Introduce new transparent production processes and digital governance


With the organisation asked to think increasingly digitally, limited capacity for digital production, and the need to coordinate digital activity and align it with strategic ambitions, a new governance structure is required.

The new governance will need to ensure that digital activity is:

  • driven by strategic objectives
  • high quality
  • widely agreed and not dominated by any one area
  • aligned with other governance and planning groups
  • agile enough to enable opportunistic developments when required (e.g. for funding opportunities that arise at short notice)
  • both top-down and bottom-up in recognition that digital expertise exists at different levels within departments
  • documented in a Digital Roadmap (working title) that is widely shared and understood

Production processes

New production processes will be developed that ensure that content is efficiently published. The production processes will also ensure that digital output is:

  • audience-centred and insight-driven
  • evaluated and enhanced
  • well designed and architected
  • distributed across multiple platforms
  • open and sharable
  • sustainable and scalable
  • the product of collaborative working practices

5 Operationalise digital disruption

To continue to adapt in a rapidly changing digital landscape, Tate will need to operationalise digital disruption. This will enable the organisation to respond effectively to the emerging opportunities of new technologies and new media.

It is envisaged that this will be achieved through:

  • establishing networks within the organisation to share expertise and creating open, inclusive forums for discussion of digital activity
  • including digital in discussions in all areas from the outset
  • changing the Tate Digital department’s remit to include new roles and activities focused on transforming activity in other departments
  • increasing insight into digital audiences
  • using new collaborative working practices and methodologies

6 Change the practice of the Tate Digital department to support these changes

To support these changes the Tate Digital department will need to undertake new activities. Increasingly they will move from acting as editors and producers to also acting as:

  • facilitators, establishing a shared vision and shared language
  • consensus builders, discovering shared goals
  • collaborators, encouraging people to work together in new ways
  • educators and mentors, helping colleagues navigate the digital landscape
  • authors of digital policies and guidelines
  • overseers, undertaking quality assurance
  • horizon scanners, identifying and communicating new opportunities and emerging trends

The Tate Digital department will need professional development to provide them with the necessary skills to undertake these roles.

7 Openness and transparency

It is proposed that this project is undertaken in an open and transparent way, so share our progress, experiences and outputs with colleagues at other organisations. This will include:

  • extensive internal communication (intranet updates, lunch-and-learn sessions, etc.)
  • online publication under open content licences of templates, policies, guidelines and other internal material for reuse by other organisations
  • a digital transformation project blog
  • conference papers and reports

See also