Facing Your Association's Reliance on Technology

Lori Halley 04 January 2012 0 comments

When I wrote last week’s post on Membership Predictions for 2012, I included “Cloud Computing” as one of the highlighted trends for 2012 that would impact associations and membership organizations. But after reading Joe Rominieki’s post, In Denial About Technology,  I think it’s more than just about moving to the cloud – I should have titled that prediction “coming to terms with your organization’s techno-reliance.”

Joe Rominiecki suggests that: 

“whatever amount of resources your association is currently devoting to technology and web development is not anywhere close to enough. Double it. Triple it. Probably still not enough....And I say this acknowledging that money, time, and staff don't grow on trees, of course. I just think it's time for a significant reorganization of priorities.”

When I reviewed the presentations from ASAE’s recent Technology Conference & Expo, it really hit home that (as Rominiecki observes in his post), associations, non-profits and other membership organizations are truly dependant on technology. He notes that most of an association’s “common endeavors” have a tech component, such as:

  • Membership (online application and renewal, member directory, discussion groups)
  • Volunteer management (discussion groups, document sharing and collaboration)
  • Meetings (online registration, digital or mobile/tablet program guides, recording and livestreaming, virtual conferences)
  • Publications (e-newsletters, mobile and tablet editions, audio and video, e-books)
  • Communications (email, social media)
  • Advocacy (alerts, online petitions)
  • Education (webinars, self-directed online learning, digital course material)
  • Research (electronic surveys, interactive databases)

While Rominiecki isn’t discounting the importance of face-to-face meetings or in-person collaboration, even those activities are becoming more and more reliant on digital promotion and notification. So with almost every aspect of an association's work being reliant on technology, his key question was: “how can you justify not shifting a larger percentage of your resources toward making those tech and web components excel?”

In a recent post, Wes Trochlil (Effective Database Management) also suggested that “if the first decade of the 21st century was spent getting data under control, the second decade will be marked by associations finally using their data to better communicate with members and customers, improve marketing effectiveness, and become completely relevant to members and customers.” 

Wild Apricot CEO, Dmitry Buterin would certainly agree. In an earlier post – Association Data Management Challenges – our Chief Apricot suggested that he wasn't surprised at the two top issues identified in EDM's What’s Plaguing Associations 2011 Survey – database integration and strategic management. He suggested these are “signs of the maturing of the AMS market and its users. Associations are recognizing the need for integration and realizing the importance of data management in addressing organizational goals." He noted that even five years ago, associations' key issues were related to functional needs, whereas today they’re looking for ways of using their systems more effectively. 

Getting past the "state of paralysis with technology"

But as one of the comments on Joe Rominiecki’s post suggested, “one other factor that should be mentioned here, many associations are in a state of paralysis with technology. There are so many moving parts that are inter-related that technology managers don't know where to start.”

Dmitry Buterin also noted that he understands “the challenges around “strategic management” (e.g., staying abreast of changes in technology and better managing the data to address the organization’s objectives). In fact, one of the initiatives Wild Apricot has put in place is a Membership Knowledge Hub that offers a “resource library focused on more strategic management issues for small associations.” Membership organizations that are just starting to consider their technology options might want to check out one or both of the following resources that are available in the Hub:

These two Guides are designed to help small associations, non-profits and other membership-based organizations: identify membership database or software requirements; understand the various software/system options available; and help organizations determine the best solution for your specific needs.

So if 2012 is the year when you are contemplating how you can harness technology to help you achieve your mission -- let us know what your key issues or challenges are by leaving a comment below.

Photo source: fontplaydotcom’s flickr photostream

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Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Wednesday, 04 January 2012 at 9:30 AM

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