Art Museum Builds Business Intelligence Foundation

Welcoming over a million visitors a year through its doors, this major museum is a modern not-for-profit business that needs to meet revenue and fundraising goals while advancing a core cultural mission. Recent facility additions and improvements need to be maximized not only for current goals, but so that the museum remains in solid stead for decades to come.

The Arts are Competitive

Make no mistake: museums are competitive businesses. Collections are acquired strategically, and exhibits and initiatives aren’t chosen just because of a curator’s interest; the museum needs to be reasonably sure that what is put on display will draw visitors, and preferably repeat visitors.

The museum has a savvy technology staff that manages complex systems throughout the institution, from simple currency transactions to complex security. The museum had implemented SQL Server and Microsoft SharePoint to manage services, but wanted to take further advantage of existing attendance data to better track exhibit popularity, busiest visiting times, repeat visits and membership incentives. For these tasks they turned to Greystone for guidance and collaboration.

The Greystone Approach

The museum relied on Greystone to model and analyze existing data into a dashboard that could help maximize attendance and secure more repeat visits — and more memberships and more donations.   Greystone leveraged existing data, including ticket data, electronic gallery visit data, and other data inputs, to clearly identify and understand how the museum was being attended and by whom.  They then coordinated the transformation of the data into a datamart and modeled it in  SQL Server Analysis Services.  Dashboards were then created within SharePoint to assist the staff to visualize the attendance data in ways that had not previously been possible. Based on this datamart, the museum can tailor incentives and exhibits to draw attendance higher.

Once the this attendance dashboard was in place, Greystone then worked with the IT staff to create additional dashboards based on this pattern to model other types of data.

Using Business Intelligence to Maximize the Visitor Experience

The institution started realizing the power of the dashboard that Greystone helped create almost immediately — but the museum wanted more than a product from Greystone, they wanted to learn new ways to look at and extract details from the data they had.  The IT staff started recognizing even more powerful ways to use existing data to understand and drive the business and increase customer satisfaction.  In collaboration with Greystone, the museum can create additional dashboards as needed to further analyze museum shop sales, data from external marketing surveys, and much more. These dashboards will allow the institution to model a comprehensive view of the business health of the museum.

Business intelligence isn’t just for traditional businesses: the non-profit world can and does benefit from complex business intelligence modeling. The strong relationship between Greystone and the museum has maximized the ability of its IT staff to cull data from existing systems and help museum leadership better understand business trends. Understanding what drives the business of a museum can help the administrative and curatorial staff of a museum to make stronger decisions that satisfy both the business and the cultural mission of the organization.