People. Processes. Systems.

A major challenge that associations are facing is the battle for the attention of our members.

By Michelle Mason, FASAE, CAE


Michelle Mason, FASAE, CAE President & CEO, Association Forum

At Forum Forward 2019, held in June, attendees heard from Wilson Tang, VP of Innovation at Freeman, about how emerging technologies are changing the way people interact with organizations. Artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things, automation and all matter of new innovations are becoming the norm during the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

A major challenge that associations are facing is the battle for the attention of our members—not only from direct competitors and the growing assortment of education resources available online, but also from the massive amounts of outreach, communications and advertisements present in an individual’s inbox, social media channels and across the internet.

As new technologies such as AI and virtual reality grow in accessibility and popularity, they are accompanied by rising expectations from consumers that these technologies will be present in their daily lives. Your organization may not compete directly with leading retail/tech companies, but when a member makes a purchase on Amazon immediately before they visit your website to register for a course, the comparison is drawn in their mind. They are being trained to expect a certain level of user experience, and that expectation is continuously being elevated based on all previous digital interactions they’ve had with any business.

Associations may not have the budgets or staff knowledge to replicate the consumer experience of a trillion dollar company, but we can ensure that our processes and systems are aligned with our members’ needs and expectations, and that our staff is trained to keep those processes and systems up-to-date.

At Association Forum, we are in the opening gambit of a full digital transformation. We’ve analyzed our systems and our processes in pursuit of a cohesive optimization of the way we interface with technology—both internally and externally. We are engaging the services of technology consultants to assess our current state and advise on our roadmap to the future. Our staff has created a visualization of the myriad software products that we use, analyzing the way these products and processes connect, and in many cases, do not connect.

What is the end result of our digital transformation? While we may not yet know the direct, tangible outcomes, we know that this journey will improve the way our members receive the content and resources that make them—and their organizations—successful. We are approaching this digital transformation by keeping in mind the three core elements that will guide our success: people, processes and systems. By concentrating on those factors, in that order, we will be able to achieve accelerated organizational agility, the most important byproduct of which will be a smoother experience for our members


About the Author

Michelle Mason, FASAE, CAE President & CEO, Association Forum

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