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The journey to musedata leadership

That overused phrase of ‘What gets measured, gets managed’ is a mantra in analytics circles, but often forgotten for analytics leadership itself. From informed strategic decisions to creating competitive differentiation, there are many benefits to widespread adoption of analytics. But how do we measure that? What does a high performing analytics organization look like? And what are the steps to success?

Like many digital journeys, the pathway to analytics nirvana is not an overnight leap. It relies upon creating building blocks one step at a time. Allowing an evolution, focused on driving tangible business value by leveraging experience and adapting knowledge into our culture. And most importantly, bringing people, process and technology change together.

In arts, culture and heritage, standard analytics success criteria might not quite fit. Museums and other organizations aren’t necessarily focused on retail turnover. We want to drive more visitors onsite, rather than purely online. And we’re doing all of this with fairly constrained resources.

Analytics maturity

To kick start an analytics approach aggregating experience and exhibition management here’s a quick pop quiz. Let’s find out where your team is at with three quick questions.

Who in your museum drives analytics? 

A. It’s the job of a particular project or department
B. We have a dedicated role or champion
C. Our management drives it from an executive level
D. It’s fairly well spread throughout our functional teams
E. Analytics is embedded in everything we do, at all levels

What influence do insights have?

A. Management keeps an eye on our high level numbers
B. We set goals and put plans in place to achieve them
C. We use our metrics to inform transformation initiatives
D. We drive continuous improvement on key outcomes
E. Our strategy includes experimental, evidenced innovation

Which level of analytics support do you have in place? 

A. We manually count and use spreadsheets
B. We use our website’s analytics feature or a similar tool
C. We’ve got a central, automated dashboard, which crosses digital and physical experience
D. We integrate feeds into a central engine for enrichment, in real time where possible
E. Our analytics drives automated experience across our stack

Mostly As – The Manual Manager

The museum is starting to collect data manually, and beginning to produce reports. It’s a great start and a step in the right direction. But watch out for pop and fizzle: a big buzz about numbers that dies off, or an annual push that doesn’t persist. The next step is to drive a discussion starting with the museum’s executive about making a change to a metrics lead museum, how analytics can underpin strategy with improved return on investment and a plan for how you’ll get there as part of thinking about your digital future. You might experience some resistance in the form of debate on aspects like what should be measured, decision influence and privacy – all things for the museum to take a position on. As a tactical move, make a list of objectives, outcomes and measures you’d like visibility on and use a tool to put these numbers at your fingertips.

Mostly Bs – The Channel Watcher

If you’re keeping an eye on your digital channels and are beginning to interpret trends, you’re well on your way. Think closely about what outcomes you’re measuring, apply interpretation to trends and get into a management routine. At this stage, you might be starting to develop your analysis methods, thinking about the index, segments or cohorts you use to digest data. But be careful to ensure your work has executive visibility to inform thinking and drive action. And watch out for a world of data silos, or the limitations of focusing too heavily on a single channel – you’ll need a plan for how to pull everything together, even with legacy systems and paper based data. You might see some push back of those who are uncomfortable with closer scrutiny on numbers, especially if the findings are unexpected or potentially reveal negatives that need work. The next step is to think about how analytics will play a part of your museum’s future blueprint, crossing visitor, collection and venue. It’s time to revisit strategy and key performance indicators. As a tactical move, take a look at implementing toolsets to automate feed presentations and reduce operating cost. Make sure scope isn’t just about recording visits to your website – your analytics reach should look at the entire visitor lifecycle over any channel, including what’s happening once they come through the door. Even better, assign a budget.

Mostly Cs – The Visual Viewer

With management support and a powered up capability, things are really starting to move. You’re measuring what’s happening in the digital world and comparing that to in gallery activity to see the cross over which makes digital transformation worthwhile, preferably in real time. Analytics becomes a part of business as usual, rather than a special initiative. You’ve set foundations to capitalize on data assets and make evidenced decisions that investigate root cause rather than rely on gut feel. But make sure this success isn’t a plateau. The next step is to make a push for analytics to filter down throughout the whole museum to become part of day to day: communication is key. This is also the time to think about how analytics will start to differentiate your museum’s value offering – how you’ll not only look reactively at your data, but use it to enable digital experience too. As a tactical move, identify the top three numbers you want every staff member to chant by heart. Focus on ways to put visual insights in front of your team – perhaps a dashboard screen in the office, or creative themed displays to show your achievement on these targets. Close the gap to help them leap from high level to drill down, slice and dice to help interpret what they’re seeing.

Mostly Ds – The Insight Leader

Your museum has a new analytics language that has gone mainstream. From front of house recommendations at the ticket counter, to what makes a mention on today’s docent tour, to the next exhibition planning or marketing meeting, you’re hearing real time updates consistently referenced to drive decision making. Your analytics culture has taken a life of its own, with a trickle down effect felt in all departments, supported by the fact analytics is now on the training agenda. You’re benchmarking, against your own experience and sector evidence. Most importantly, the data your team reference is enriched to provide intuitive insights and spin out new ideas. Data is taken from inside and outside the museum, over multiple channels and provides perspectives for context. There’s a current of continuous improvement in the museum and projects use a hypothesis and evaluation management style rather than lacking accountability. But where to from here? The final frontier is to harness your data for digital enablement and innovation. As a tactical move, revisit the research and development aspect of your museum’s strategy and brainstorm how your next analytics engine can drive your growth objectives in preservation and access in new ways.

Mostly Es – The Predictive Innovator

The one to watch. Your museum has joined an elite group of industry leaders that not only look to the past, but predict the future. Lean business as usual operations sit neatly in a mode of continuous improvement. Transformation is explored in an agile manner. The museum’s strategy carefully invests into targeted differentiation, exploring bold ideas with managed risk and transparent accountability. Your visitor experience leadership, driven through deep understanding of visitor behavior, is evidenced by exceptional engagement with high net promoter scores and a pleasantly surprising difference in employee satisfaction too. You’re seeing the fruits of your innovation take root beyond the museum’s walls and are enjoying social and commercial returns. The next step is to build upon your cognitive knowledgebase as part of your museum’s business model to advance learning within the global community. As a tactical move, share your secrets by publishing your lessons learned in a case study as an example for others.

Mixed bag?

The pop quiz questions represent the three pillars of people, process and technology. If your results are very different across all three, this may provide an interesting insight in its own right for museums who have advanced in one area but not others. To achieve success at each level, the three need to work in harmony. Focus on pulling up your lagging pillar before you take on a next step for your leading pillar.

Use the comments below or #musedata to share what stage of analytics leadership has your museum reached and the next step for you and your team.