Where Tech Meets Tradition

Anna Greenhill our consultant managing the role
Posting date: 8/15/2019 8:43 AM
If you’re lamenting the decline of handmade traditional products, cast your cares aside. There’s a new Sheriff in town and its name is, Tech. Just a generation ago, children would leave the farm or the family business, go to school, and then move on to make their place in the world doing their own thing. Away from family. 

Today, the landscape has changed and those who have left are coming home. But this time, they’re bringing technology with them to help make things more efficient and more productive.

Is Tech-Assisted Still Handmade?


In a word, yes. Artists still make things “from scratch”, except now technologies allow them to not only see their vision in real-time, but their customers, too. Have you ever wondered what the image in your head might look like on paper or in metal? What about the design of prosthetic arms and healthcare devices by 3D printers? You’re still designing, creating. 

But just like any new technology, there’s still a learning curve. Even for cutting-edge craftspeople who find that sometimes, the line between craftsmanship and high-tech creativity may be a bit of a blur. Not to mention the expense for either the equipment required or being able to offer art using traditional tools at technology-assisted prices. Somewhere between the two, there is a trade-off. It’s up to the individual to determine where and what that trade-off is.

Life in the Creative Economy


One of Banksy’s paintings shredded itself upon purchase at an auction recently. AI is making music and writing books. Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Blockchain all have their place in the creative economy from immersive entertainment to efficient manufacturing processes. Each of these touches the way we live now.

In a joint study between McKinsey and the World Economic Forum, 'Creative Disruption: The impact of emerging technologies on the creative economy', the organisations broke down the various technologies used in the creative economy and how they’re driving change. For example:

  • AI is being used to distill user preferences when it comes to curating movies and music. 
  • The Associated Press has used AI to free up reporters’ time and the Washington Post has created a tool to help it generate up to 70 articles a month, many stories of which they wouldn’t have otherwise dedicated staff.
  • Machine Learning has begun to create original content. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality have come together as a new medium to help move people to get up, get active, and go play whether it’s a stroll through a virtual art gallery or watching your children play at the playground. 

Where else might immersive media play out? Content today could help tell humanitarian stories or offer work-place diversity training. But back to the artisan handicrafts. 

Artistry with technology


Whilst publishing firms may be looking to use AI to redefine the creative economy, they are not alone. Other artists utilising these technologies include: 

  • Sculptors
  • Digital artists
  • Painters
  • Jewellery makers
  • Bourbon distillers

America’s oldest distiller has gotten on the technology bandwagon and while there is no rushing good Bourbon, but you can manage the process more efficiently. They’ve even taken things a step further and have created an app for aficionados to follow along in the process. Talk about crafted and curated for individual tastes and transparency.

It may seem almost self-explanatory to note how other artisans are using technology. But what about distilleries? What are they doing? They’re creating efficiency by:
Adding IoT sensors for Data Analytics collection
Adding RFID tags to their barrels
Creating experimental ageing warehouses (AR, anyone?) to refine their craft.

Don’t worry, though. These changes won’t affect the spirit itself. After all, according to Mr. Wheatley, Master Distiller, “There’s no way to cheat mother nature or father time.”

Ultimately, the idea is to not only understand the history behind the process, but to make it more efficient and repeatable. A way to preserve the processes of the past while using the advances of the present with an eye to the future.

If you’re interested in using Data & Analytics to drive creativity, we may have a role for you. Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch with one of our expect consultants to find out more. 

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