By Sara Campbell
Founded in 1929, The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is dedicated to being the foremost museum of modern art in the world. Its mission is the encouragement of an ever-deeper understanding and enjoyment of modern and contemporary art by the diverse audiences it serves.
Juan and Diana have been the driving force behind an IT department that is impacting business change, all while keeping the museum’s primary mission in mind. I recently sat down with Juan and Diana to understand their role in evangelizing the museum’s mission through technology and what it means to them to be an Appirio Cloud Pioneer.
Q: Can you tell me a little about MoMA’s mission and the challenge you have addressed with the Cloud?
Juan Montes (JM): The museum’s mission is to bring modern art to as broad of an audience as possible and IT’s mission is to help accomplish that by best using the resources we have. Our goal here isn’t to build solutions and host servers, it’s to focus our resources to bring modern art to as broad an audience as possible.
Diana Pan (DP): The museum’s mission is always top of mind. We knew we had to replace the thirty year-old homegrown legacy CRM system that contained all of our mission critical information about our members and donors. It was antiquated and full of patches and workarounds, and it was impossible to run reports and get an accurate picture of who our donors and members were. Our internal staff all had local copies of the data in spreadsheets and no information was shared across fundraising and other functions. We looked for a best-of-breed solution and found that Salesforce.com allowed us to tackle these business problems. It offers us an authoritative source of data related to our members and donors and has integrations to other key systems like our loaned art and retail applications, for a complete 360* view.
JM: Similarly, our previous on-premise mail system required a full time dedicated headcount to keep it up and running, and even when everything was running as it should, we really weren’t providing all that much value to our users. Moving our email system to Gmail was a no brainer. It provides a robust alternative that fulfills all of our requirements, while opening up a lot of collaborative possibilities that we didn’t have previously, all at a fraction of the cost.
Q: How has “working in the cloud” changed the way MoMA does business?
JM: We’ve been able to redeploy our team, previously dedicated to maintaining our internal systems, to take care of things that are more relevant to the museum, like our digital asset and collection management systems and to focus on a strategy for keeping video assets in such a way that they can be deployed easily.
From a budgetary perspective, every $100K we get back is money can put into an interactive guide to the museum or a better user experience at Moma.org. We are able to put those dollars to things that are more directly related to what the museum is all about.
DP: The 360* CRM system now allows us to reach donors and members much more efficiently and to acquire new members in much more efficient way because we can analyze what has happened in the past and make decisions based on that data. Additionally, our member base is at a record high and we’ve only had Salesforce implemented for about a year. The system has already made a significant impact on membership and business.
Q: What did it take to get from vision to execution?
JM: Initially, it took a lot of education about the cloud in general. We led with Google, knowing that it wasn’t trivial, but also was not as complex as the CRM system. We had to demonstrate why the change would be impactful to the business. We did a bunch of presentations around on-premise vs. the cloud, just to get people bought into our vision. And once we did that, it was the non-technical things that had to happen–thinking through what a contract with a cloud service provider looked like and making sure it had the kinds of protections the museum needed to consider to be comfortable with the decision.
DP: Beyond the initial education it was about training and educating users.
JM: In the case of Gmail, there was a lot of training involved. A significant percentage of our users had been on Microsoft Exchange for years and knew all the shortcuts and tricks. We provided a lot of resources to help people work in a new context.
DP: From a Salesforce perspective, everything Juan mentioned applies as well. Even though our prior system was 30 years old and difficult to use, our users had become accustomed to all the workarounds and funky steps they had to take to get it to work for them. It was all they knew. They had also become protective of their own data stored locally on their machines. There was a great deal of education that went into showing them that everything was available at their fingertips in Salesforce and they didn’t have to extract data into Crystal Reports or Excel.
Q: What is it like working with Appirio?
JM: I have a great deal of respect for Appirio as a company. They have top-notch resources and a lot of what I call “cloud chops”, which was not that prevalent at the time we embarked on these projects.
DP: Like any long project, there were some pretty bumpy times and just like with any other consulting group, the success really has to do with individuals assigned to project. At all levels, we felt that Appirio listened to us, made changes where necessary, monitored our progress and showed that they cared about MoMA.
JM: Another thing I saw, that I liked very much was that whatever was learned in a project, Appirio incorporated those learnings into the next project to avoid the same pitfalls and make things run smoother, more efficiently.
Q: You were named 2012 Cloud Pioneers. What does being named a Cloud Pioneer mean to you?
JM: In all honesty and with a lot of humility, we are a pretty progressive department. We don’t want control for its own sake and while it is necessary on some levels to provide reliable service, our focus is on enabling the museum to do amazing things. A lot of times that means we get out of the way of users. With a cloud platform we don’t have to spend a lot of time spinning up machines–all that is done–so, our end users are able to get value more quickly from the services we provide.
I think we are very progressive and like pioneers in that we’re not afraid to go out and try something new. At same time, like the pioneers of old, we’re not just dreamers, but practical people. They that had to make it across the country on their own with very little and there’s a parallel to our situation there. Anyone that’s met Diana knows she will tell you if something doesn’t work.
DP: I don’t think we really are pioneers to be honest. Its all about timing and the need came along at a time when the technology was mature enough for us to reliably take advantage of it. We probably wouldn’t have made the same decision 3-5 years ago. But the technology has evolved, so we aren’t really pioneers at all. We were just looking for best solution and that happened to be cloud.