Digital transformation. Interview with Joaquim Solias from KuanUm!

We have recently conducted interviews on the digitisation of different projects in the cultural sector during 2020. In today's article, we interview Joaquim Solias, cultural manager, historian, and member of the company KuanUm! Specialists in archaeogastronomy and historical-cultural dissemination.

What has 2020 been like? You have been forced to face digitalisation. In what way have you been forced to face it?

2020 got off to a promising start. We had a lot of activities planned, especially for the summer, as traditionally, we have always been involved in workshops in Spain, taking advantage of the fact that there is a lot more activity at that time of year. All this was disrupted by confinement and the new normality, which has made us change our vision of our economic activity. In the beginning, we saw how some activities were canceled, but we saw a door to launch ourselves into the company's digitalisation.
We had been postponing this process for some years, and it presented as a much-needed opportunity to innovate. We followed a three-pronged strategy to lay new foundations.
What options did you consider for this digital transformation?
The new situation caught us unprepared, and we had to innovate with all the possible proposals. At first, we considered increasing our presence on social networks and strengthening our old blog. However, we opted to apply the triple strategy mentioned above:

  • Transforming classic activities into digital format.
  • Launching new possibilities.
  • Creating a website were our new priorities.

What benefits or disadvantages do you find in the part of the business you have digitised?

The benefits have been many. First, we managed to recover those activities that were most likely to be cancelled. As we work a lot with gastronomic activities, we see them in danger from the very beginning. Adapting the cooking workshops to a live show-cooking format forced us to buy new material, which was an added expense but with the benefit of saving other costs such as transport or maintenance of the materials.
In addition, the launch of new projects—hand in hand with Misterio Studio—helped us find new potential clients and make our offer more attractive. For example, we collaborated in producing interactive videos for museums and institutions, a type of work that we had yet to tackle before and which has given us excellent results.
Finally, constructing a website has entailed some financial costs, but it certainly opens a new door to the online world. It has also helped us redefine ourselves and better understand our objectives and priorities.

Has your role in the company changed with this digitalisation?

The entry into new spaces entails more work in all senses. Getting our new offer across, creating the web space, and adapting old activities have meant that we have had to approach our way of working differently.

Now, I have had to concentrate on maintaining these new fields of work, and it has led me to learn how some fields worked that I had never worked with before.

Has the situation we are going through changed your type of customer?

Not really. We are a family business, and our type of customer is more than defined by the type of product we sell. This situation has pushed us to look for new customers, always within the type of user we believe we are more attached to.

Is this new paradigm here to stay, and how will it affect the heritage and culture sector?

It's going to be a challenging scenario. Some companies in the sector have sadly had to close down, and many friends and colleagues are finding it hard to get back on their feet. On the other hand, going digital today is like going for the winning horse. Suppose we foresee an immediate future for the sector. In that case, it is quite clear that many institutions and companies will want to get involved in this change, above all, because at the end of the day it is in the interest of the user, who is always right.

After the experience of 2020, how do you see 2021 in terms of communication/expansion? What is the trend for this year?

It will be a challenging year, but we will work to ensure that the trend is upward. We are now attracting new clients to whom we can offer our latest range of online workshops, showcookings, courses, and personalised projects. It could be the new KuanUm brand!
Conclusions: the best and the worst we can expect to find in the cultural sector in 2021, according to your experience
As I said, 2021 will be a year full of difficulties, undoubtedly the most damaging aspect of what will come. On the other hand, I foresee something positive: it will be a year in which we will be able to opt for new opportunities.

Thank you very much, Joaquim, for speaking to us about the experience of KuanUm! and your personal experience. We hope that 2021 will bring you new opportunities, and we wish you the best of luck with the digitalisation of the project.

Suppose you are interested in reading more about cultural trends for 2021. In that case, we invite you to read our interview with Anna Rossell from the Museu del Disseny about event production and the interview with Atenea Carter, a cultural entrepreneur who has completely changed her business model.