The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) situated right in the middle of Manhattan, New York, houses one of the greatest art collections in the world. Since the completion of its $425 million dollar renovation in 2004, MoMA has over 630,000 square feet of space, including 125,000 square feet for exhibitions and public programs. MoMA used LANSA for integrated Windows and web-based membership management, point of sales and entrance ticket verification.
Steve Peltzman, CIO at MoMA, says, “We developed three major systems in a year and a half. That is pretty good. LANSA has been a key ingredient in keeping productivity up in our application development department. Even with all the major development projects over the last year, we kept the same number of people. LANSA takes each person and doubles or triples their productivity.”
LANSA has been a key ingredient in keeping productivity up in our application development department.
MoMA was a long time iSeries user, but wasn’t using the platform in the most optimal way. MoMA’s business users started to see the iSeries as a somewhat outdated character-based and proprietary platform. When Peltzman took over as CIO, it was time for a technology overhaul. The first step was providing a graphical and more productive user interface to internal users.
“But putting new GUIs on existing applications was just the start of things to come,” says Peltzman.
MoMA needed a new membership system to replace the two un-integrated membership and donor systems that had grown over time. This made it impossible to provide proper services to members. Members occasionally received duplicate mailings, wasting paper and postage and creating a poor image of an efficient organization for MoMA.
MoMA also needed to replace a 10-year-old DOS-based Point of Sales system that was slow, limited in functionality and wasn’t integrated with the membership system. It could not validate membership details for associated discounts and could only issue temporary membership-ids.
Another priority was to automate the verification of entrance tickets. MoMA has a large variety of entrance documents, from membership cards and tickets sold at MoMA’s desk to tickets, coupons and city passes for multiple museums sold by third-party vendors. Staff checked tickets manually at the entrance, resulting in long queues on busy days.
“It made sense to have the Membership, POS and Ticket scanning system on the same platform and integrating off the same data base,” says Peltzman.
But with so much planned systems redevelopment, continuing with the iSeries was not a certainty. MoMA’s management asked Peltzman to re-evaluate the iSeries and keep an open mind about other platforms. “Ultimately, the decision to stick with the iSeries came down to two factors. One, the in-house staff was well versed in operating iSeries products, but more importantly, I can count on the hardware. The operating costs are cheap, and the box has never gone down.”
But developing in RPG was not the way to continue. Bob Rocco, director of MoMA’s application and development group, evaluated several development tools and proposed LANSA to Peltzman.
“LANSA’s strategy made sense to me,” says Peltzman. “The LANSA demonstration very convincingly showed how productive it is to develop and maintain programs. In our old RPG line-by-line coding, it is usually very difficult to understand code that was created by somebody else. But because of the way LANSA-built programs are assembled and business rules are kept in a central repository it is much easier.”
“I also liked the idea of developing at a high enough level so the tool can generate the Java, C or other code underneath. I don’t want to bet on which way technology will be going and LANSA’s track record of moving existing business logic to newer technology environments is reassuring.”
I like the idea of developing at a high enough level so the tool can generate the Java, C or other code underneath.
MoMA used Visual LANSA to develop its new central membership management system, which caters for over 50,000 members and is growing fast. Members enjoy free admission for a year, plus exclusive exhibition previews, special rates on admission tickets for guests and discounts at all MoMA Stores.
MoMA also launched LANSA-built individual and corporate member websites to allow individual members to change their address and upgrade their membership, while corporate members can manage and maintain the membership details of their employees.
New members can get their permanent membership card printed instantly, eliminating time consuming mailing procedures and phone calls about incorrect address details.
Membership information is available in real-time to MoMA’s POS stations in the retail stores and the Wireless ticket verification system at the entrance doors.
MoMA’s POS stations are Windows-based PCs equipped with a barcode scanner. The LANSA-based POS software links to MoMA’s iSeries for membership information. This allows staff to verify a member’s status and activate discounts and promotions. Just as important, when members swipe their card, details pop up immediately on the sales clerks screen, which allows for a more personalized greeting and immediate recognition of donors.
Sales staff use the POS system for item searches, all retail sales and for recording of detailed shipping instructions for sending purchased items. The POS system also allows MoMA’s staff to process requests from visitors to purchase, renew, extend or upgrade their membership and print permanent membership cards.
MoMA’s entrance staff now use wireless Symbol pocket PCs to scan the barcodes on various entrance documents. The Visual LANSA-based software on the pocket PC checks the scanned code against an iSeries-based ‘scan file’, which is a database of valid tickets and membership codes, populated by LANSA Integrator in real-time from transactions in the ticket issuing system. The ticket verification program on the pocket PC then applies the proper business rules depending on the type of ticket. For example, some tickets can be used multiple times during the day, some tickets can only be used once and some tickets only allow for entrance on certain days of the week or certain times of the day.
Membership information is available in real-time to MoMA’s POS stations and the Wireless ticket verification system.
“The Membership and POS programs that we created are very user friendly,” says Peltzman. “This is especially important since we get help from a large pool of volunteers at the member desk. They only need a few minutes of training, which is really good since some volunteers are only with us for a few days a year.”
New members can use cards immediately at the retail outlets to get a discount, an added incentive for visitors to join on the spot. Existing members can swipe their card at the membership desk or retail stores and membership details will pop-up immediately for updating.
“We like to think of our members as supporters and family members rather than simply customers. We did the right thing by treating them to a seamless experience. Not only is the membership experience a lot better and it is also likely to boost sales.”
Peltzman says, “The new ticket verification system gives MoMA’s Visitor Services department an efficient and single way to validate tickets and count entries. The scanning program pulls in any barcode for real-time validation, even though tickets are generated through many ways. We welcomed over one million visitors in the first four months after re-opening. We couldn’t have handled that with our old system.”
The POS system, since it is fully integrated with the membership system, keeps history of members’ purchases, which allows MoMA to serve its members better. For example, when a member wants to buy a second copy of an art book or poster he or she purchased before, but cannot remember the title, the sales clerk can simply swipe the member’s card and call up the member’s shopping profile.
This also offers the potential to make the museum a more sophisticated marketer. The POS and Membership system have the capability to capture email addresses and MoMA may use these to drive eCommerce sales in a tailored Amazon-like approach. For example, when a member buys a Starry Night poster, the system could send a personalized email messages about van Gogh related exhibitions, classes and books.
“We developed three major systems in a year and a half. That is pretty good,” says Peltzman.
Rocco comments on this first Visual LANSA development project, “The learning curve in event driven programming was maybe a little bit longer than we anticipated. But once the team was going and familiar with LANSA, there was no stopping them.”
“LANSA’s philosophy of having a single skill set among a pool of developers, rather than having specialized web, Windows and PDA programmers, makes sense to me. This approach boosts team spirit, better integration and is far more interesting for our staff.”
We developed three major systems in a year and a half. That is pretty good.
“We had a big challenge on our hands, launching a new museum system in small time frame,” concludes Peltzman. “We could have started all over again with a new platform, new staff and something like Java. Or, keep the iSeries, leverage the knowledge and loyalty of existing staff, and simply do things better than before. LANSA allowed us to take the latter approach. And I have to say, it really paid off.”
“LANSA has been a key ingredient in keeping productivity up in our application development department,” says Peltzman. “Even with all the major development projects over the last year, we kept the same number of people. That’s why LANSA is good, it takes each person and doubles or triples their productivity.”
A small but powerful Visual LANSA-based Business Intelligence system is in the works to further extend the benefits of the integrated data system. Business users will be able to use the BI system to run and create reports without the need for support from the IT department.
Building further on the new system, MoMA has started a pilot project of handing Toshiba Pocket PCs to visitors. These PDAs will be loaded with digital video and audio content about the museum’s art and exhibitions. At the end of the tour, the visitor can register his e-mail address. Then, when logging on at MoMA’s website at home, the visitor will find a personalized website section with merchandise related to the artwork bookmarked during the tour.
MoMA is also planning an RFID pilot project that will involve the tagging the art inventory so that RFID can be used to automatically register where exactly any piece of art is located. “And once all art pieces are tagged we will find other ways to take advantage of it,” says Peltzman. “This may extend to visitors using RFID to bookmark their favorite pieces of art.
“A seamless experience for our members is our ultimate goal,” says Peltzman.
“The bottom line is, the iSeries and LANSA tools have enabled us to do some pretty cool stuff, without requiring a budget increase for applications development”
LANSA enabled us to do some pretty cool stuff, without requiring a budget increase.
MoMA recently opened a new exhibit where the display space is split between an interior and exterior/outdoor gallery setting. Since the exhibit was expected to draw a large audience, the membership and finance departments were eager to capitalize on selling opportunities for new memberships, especially to the stream of visitors in the outdoor area.
“We didn’t have the technical facilities to support that opportunity,” explains Rocco. “To complicate matters further, the area was scheduled to become an active construction site. So, any hardwired solution would be temporary, which limited the funding. IT was consulted and asked to provide a low cost solution on time for the launch of the exhibition, which was at that stage only four weeks away.”
After an initial assessment of the open space, IT determined a wireless mobile application could be deployed and quickly moved ahead. The desktop team selected the most appropriate hand held devices and peripherals, a system architect designed a simple and integrated solution and the development team realized that solution using LANSA.
“From inception to the finish line, in the span of four weeks the solution was deployed in production,” says Rocco.
The solution allows staff to sell and renew memberships from any location in and around the museum, while connected via WiFi to MoMA’s central membership database. The Visual LANSA based software on the PC tablets allows for address verification, real time credit card authorization, bar code reading of existing membership cards and printing of receipts on a mobile Bluetooth Zebra printer.
Ramakrishna Sudheendra, lead architect at MoMA, explains, “The application re-uses many business objects that were previously tested and deployed. Since the application runs on a touch sensitive tablet, the screens were designed to minimize keyboard entry. With the integration of ActiveX, the system seamlessly communicates with a Bluetooth receipt printer and prints a confirmation receipt with a barcode. The application also integrates with MoMA’s entry system, the online ecommerce shop application and the brick and mortar stores.”
“Now it is easier than ever before for visitors to join as a member on the spot. With the receipt new members can avoid lines and gain access to Museum galleries, and take advantage of benefits which include a discount on all store purchases.”