National Museum of Australia rolls out wireless data analytics solution

Museum's CIO says tapping into customer insights via wireless and mobile services onsite will help with visitor services, targeted marketing and gallery development

Rolling out a new wireless data analytics platform will give the National Museum of Australia (NMA) the ability to better understand its visitors and drive new levels of both gallery and mobile engagement, its CIO says.

Last week, the NMA signed a three-year deal with ASX-listed wireless services provider, Skyfii, to roll out the vendor’s IO Connect and IO Insight data collection and analytics solutions across the Canberra-based facility.

Skyfii’s platform taps into wireless infrastructure, beacons, people counters, social, video and Web to analyse the behaviour of visitors across physical venues, as well as captures data from those opting into free Wi-Fi services while onsite.

The NMA has more than 6600 square metres of exhibition space and was visited by 1.2 million people over the 2015-2016 financial year.  

National Museum of Australia CIO, Mike Webb, told CMO the decision to adopt Skyfii was prompted by a wider refresh of the site’s ageing wireless infrastructure. At the same time, the gallery has been working to build out a visitor mobile strategy and set the direction for the way NMA interacts with consumers using mobile devices. That could be via apps or public Wi-Fi both and leveraging that for visitor engagement as well as marketing, he said.

The first phase is to bring on wireless with analytics, allowing the NMA to better understand customer behaviour and where visitors go in aggregate numbers while onsite, Webb said.

“It’s a pretty complex building, with a lot of galleries where you can exit from gallery A straight into D for example, so it’s not necessarily sequential,” he said. “Having analytics will allow us to better understand the customer flow through galleries, which is important to gallery development. But also it presents opportunities to engage with visitors, such as giving them an opt-in opportunity to learn about future events and exhibitions in the museum.

“As a primarily free museum, it’s one way to get more tangible information around the visitors.”

The wireless rollout is being overseen by NMA’s IT team, while the data analytics piece is being driven by a multi-team group including IT, marketing, visitor services and the development branch. The latter oversees everything attached to revenue, profiling customers and understanding various market segments, Webb explained.

There’s also plenty of collaboration between IT and NMA’s digital team, established 18 months ago as a dedicated function with responsibility for mobile apps and digital content.

The new wireless hardware is already in place and the Skyfii analytics platform is being piloted now, with expectations it will go live in a matter of weeks.

In terms of mobile today, NMA has a number of different apps available, including a general tour app, and ‘Kspace’ kids zone augmented reality app, Webb said.

“What we are looking at is how we can leverage the location analytics of the Skyfii platform with wireless to provide a more enriched, targeted experience to visitors,” he said. “Over coming months, we’re working out the specs for what that mobile app will look like, with the intent to leverage information we get from Skyfii to inform development of the app.”

Having analytics of this nature will also help with future gallery development, Webb said.

“Because we’re such a big facility and can be complex to navigate, it’s about understanding the visitors that go to some or all of the galleries, and the percentage of visitors that come into that main entrance hall and get through all the galleries, relative to just a handful. That may help inform where more popular items are placed, or the journey curators want to put in front of visitors,” he said.

In addition, data around repeat visits, and how many people make it into the shop, will help with visitor services.

“On the marketing side, it gives us the opportunity to integrate with digital signage and other things,” Webb added. “There is a longer term view that this could help us do more targeted marketing inside the galleries as well.”  

With so many opportunities available to use the data, and plenty of business process to juggle, taking a pragmatic view and getting some initial insights will help NMA understand where to focus its attention first, Webb said.

Metrics, meanwhile, being used to gauge success will include the quality of the data sourced through the Skyfii solution.

“If we can use that data in a tangible way, we’ll have instantly reached ROI for this,” Webb said. “At the moment, we have anecdotal data, and infrared sensors above various doors, which give us some statistics, but it doesn’t tell you if it’s just a child running back and forth between doors. And it doesn’t link up the full journey of people. We have to infer a lot from that. This wireless solution gives us more tangible, real numbers.”

The deal with NMA is Skyfii’s first in the cultural sector. The company has a number of clients in the retail and hospitality space, including Market City, Platypus, Hungry Jack’s and Diageo.

“The NMA is one of Australia’s preeminent museums, which we look forward to growing a long-term relationship with through the deployment of our data analytics services - supporting the museum in enhancing its visitor experience,” Skyfii MD, John Rankin, said.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu        

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