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Improving access to digital cultural heritage for multiple users and uses via a disruptive cloud based software as a service

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - COMWORK (Improving access to digital cultural heritage for multiple users and uses via a disruptive cloud basedsoftware as a service)

Reporting period: 2016-11-01 to 2017-02-28

Attendance to museums, particularly the small and medium ones (SMMs), continues to decline mainly because most museums are not able to engage their public through digital contents and experience. In a global scenario where only 43% of museum collections are still digitized and only 7% of digitalized collection are available on the web, the biggest priority for around 17.000 European SMMs in the next few years is to implement a digital age shift in order to find a new and sustainable business model that works within the context of our changing society.
Going digital for SMMs, with few staff, low salaries and limited resources, is challenging. Most significant barriers to digital development in museums are slow or limited IT systems and network (52%), lack of time (80%) and lack of resources (66%). Indeed, current solutions available on the market are too costly and often unaffordable for the most part of museums. Besides, museums are not gaining profit of co-working and open innovation initiatives that could be facilitated by the worldwide network.
Digitisation of collections is very profitable for society at it allows a better preservation of valuable items that will form a heritage of future generations. In addition to this, digital assets can be easily accessed from anywhere facilitating dissemination of knowledge and culture.
Overall objectives of coMwork include the development of a very affordable software for museums of any size which integrates a Collection Management System (a cataloguing system that contains record surrogates of the museum’s objects), a Digital Asset Management system (a system which stores and preserves the digital assets) and a Web CMS, Content Management System (for easily publishing catalogues on the web). In addition to this, it will provide new features which facilitate collaboration among museum staff and also with external users (researchers, press agencies, art transporters, other museums, etc.).
coMwork aims to bring to the market an innovative solution that will be launched as a ready to market cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) application, both for museums and museum professionals to manage physical and digital museums’ collections on an easy to use and comprehensive software. coMwork solution is currently on demonstration stage (TRL6).
A Feasibility Study demonstrating technical, commercial and financial viability ending with a complete Business Plan has been developed. This has included a market study analysis, a comparison with competitors, barriers, risks, a technological plan detailing main technical requirements, workflow and testing procedures and a financial viability plan. Strategic partners and stakeholders have been identified and we also have determined and deal the possible agreements with them. Results have shown that there is a strong demand for a solution like coMwork in European museums but especially in ones with small or medium budgets, as it provides a high-end solution for all of them. However, as commercial exploitation is complex for a company such as coMwork, we have designed several commercialization stages to first focus efforts in the best markets for our project: Italy and Poland; then Croatia, Czech Republic, Romania and Hungary and other European countries in a third stage. Besides, FS has shown that it is highly recommended for coMwork to establish a strategic alliance with an IT developer company in order to share the risks that are incurred when a software of considerable size is produced.
The Phase 2 of the project will include all the necessary steps to bring the solution to market readiness (TRL9). This includes finishing the development of the core software, the development of interfaces with third-party software, the deployment of the solution into a public environment and the corresponding tests. In addition to this the project includes the making of two pilot tests in real environments. A commercialization strategy will be also carried out after checking the technical, commercial and financial viability of the project. Project management activities such as time and cost monitoring and control, and a risk management plan will be also carried out. In parallel an FTO analysis will be carried out to define more precisely the best IPR strategy for coMwork.
Museums which adopt coMwork solution will have an important economic impact, as their IT overall costs will be greatly reduced (see text below). Other advantages for Small and Medium Museums (SMMs) using integrated software such as coMwork are a higher dissemination about their catalogues and increasing revenues: an increase of around 700.000 new digital pages available about museums’ pieces of art is expected by 2020 and an increased revenue for museums of around 20%, obtained from both improved user experience (thanks to digital contents) and a larger visibility.
Collaboration among museums and museum professionals will also be facilitated implying a deeply social change in how museums are managed. Archivists, curators, registrars, conservators and other museum workers will enjoy the possibility of using the platform to exchange information about the works. Besides they will save a considerable amount of time (-40% time spent on manual upload of metadata) and costs (around 5800€/year) due to the elimination of tasks such as manual transfer of data and metadata from the Collection Management system, Digital Asset Management system and their websites; and with external co-operators as other museums’ workers or editors or restorers. Guest users such as freelance museum professionals, university researchers, art transporters and others will also benefit from time savings due to a digitized planning of movement of pieces of art between art exhibition centres, and will access to updated and accurate data from the pieces of art that was not available before.
With CoMwork we expect to create 12 new direct employees and an accumulated turnover of 2.654.000 € in the 3 years of post-project stage (commercialization). But the economic impact will not be the only one: Society will benefit of the increased visibility among the web of the valuable objects stored in the museums. Future generations will also benefit of the improved preservation of the digital assets (either born-native or digitised from analogous sources).