Tying It All Together: An Evolution of System Integrations

Steve Jacobson

Chief Executive Officer

Steve, founder of JCA, has provided systems consulting and implementation services to a number of clients, including Carnegie Hall, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The American Museum of Natural History, New York Botanical Garden, and the National Constitution Center.
May 26, 2022

Over the past 30+ years, I’ve been fortunate to have worked with a number of North America’s leading museums and science centers. When I think back to those early days, it seemed like the Holy Grail to be able to bring together data from the plethora of museum systems. There were ticketing/admissions systems. There were fundraising and membership systems. There were systems for group sales, for retail point of sale, for catering… You get the picture. There were so many systems and none of them talked to each other. But what if you could break down those silos and get a true 360-degree view of a patron’s engagement across all of a museum’s touch points?

A Custom Data Integration

Well, that was the idea I presented at the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) conference in Boston back in 2006. JCA had built an automated data integration between an admissions system and a membership system. It made a lot of sense, as a membership could be processed through the membership system and auto-magically appear in the admissions system, where the guest could be issued a member ticket. While this process greatly enhanced guest/member service, the true benefit was that we now had a unified set of data to better understand our visitors. For example, we were able to focus a membership upgrade campaign on only those members who visited frequently. The result: an incredibly profitable appeal with more revenue and lower mailing costs than other upgrade efforts.

Unfortunately, while our clients often saw great results, the code that we wrote was difficult to maintain. While we tried to productize our “adapter,” it seemed like every client wanted something different. It just didn’t make sense for JCA to develop and maintain so many different code versions. Fast forward to 2022, however, and we’re looking at a different story. There are now “unified” systems that have broken down some silos and brought together different museum functions. While this is a huge step forward, these systems still can’t do everything, and integration strategies still need to be devised.

Breaking Down Silos with iPaaS

What’s now changed is the emergence of Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) software that is specifically designed to integrate data across the institution. Many of these tools don’t require a programmer to write code. They allow non-technical staff to build workflows by selecting the data that they want to move and then dragging that data and dropping it into another system. Additionally, these users can create rules specific to their institution, essentially customizing an integration without programming code.

I am pleased to announce that JCA has licensed Workato, the iPaaS industry’s preeminent tool, to help our clients build this next generation of integrations. We believe that Workato is a true game changer for not just museums, but all nonprofit organizations that we serve. If you have an integration challenge, let’s talk! You’ll be amazed at how quickly we can build and deploy a solution.

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