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Data + the Greater Good Meetup: Shannon Darrough at the Museum of Modern Art

by Mary Plum

Posted February 20, 2019

At our last Data + the Greater Good meetup, Consultant Mary Plum held a fireside chat with the Director of Digital Media for the Museum of Modern Art, Shannon Darrough. Shannon’s team is responsible for MoMA’s major digital platforms, including the website, app, and lobby information screens.

Below, see highlights from their discussion…

Navigating a Changing Cultural Landscape

In creating digital products, Shannon and his team are always focused on operating as efficiently as possible. This means they tend to create a minimum viable product and then launch it quickly to test and refine. This approach is antithetical to how museums operate, where they often spend years designing and planning for exhibitions and anticipate limited changes following the launch. As such, Shannon faces the challenge of convincing his colleagues beyond the digital media team of this methodology’s effectiveness.

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Using Data to Work Smart

Shannon notes that he uses data and analytics to ensure that his team prioritizes projects and tasks, uses time effectively, and gains an understanding of how users are experiencing and utilizing their digital products.

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You Know Data is Important – Now What?

Shannon believes that there are four major stages an organization must experience to reach the point where they are able to properly collect and utilize analytics:

  • Buy-in: An organization needs to do more than recognize the importance of data. They need to commit to amassing it and using it to make informed, strategic decisions.
  • Building the infrastructure: Organizations need to ensure they are logging the data and have the correct platforms and systems set up.
  • Monitoring the analytics: Organizations have to ask questions relating to the content of the data and monitor the results.
  • Responding: Taking the data, analyzing it, and responding to what you’ve learned

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How Nonprofits Can Embrace Data

Shannon thinks that large companies and data-driven startups are at an advantage because they understand the value of big data and many have dedicated significant resources to make sure they’re collecting and utilizing the data properly. He recognizes that this can be a challenge for organizations. One option is to productize data management and analytics. This can make it easier to analyze large datasets and “get data right.”

To watch Mary and Shannon’s discussion in full, click here, and to RSVP to future events, visit our Meetup event page.

Our “Data + the Greater Good” Meetup series has featured speakers from an array of nonprofit organizations, including The Met, The Whitney, New York Public Radio, ProPublica, Public Art Fund and Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Read about their presentations on our blog.

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