The Data-Driven Association: Harnessing the Power of Cloud Computing

by Jeff Horne, Founder and CEO, Industrial & Wicket and Michael Brennan, Consultant

In association management, as in business, data-decision making is seemingly everywhere. If you aren’t managing your association through the collection and analysis of data already, you can expect your Board to ask why, and for good reason. The use of data, translated in to information that enlightens oversight and strategy, is a crucial part of modern association management. It is a safe bet that it will become even more important in the future.

IT systems are the primary resource for collecting this data. However, many association managers (those old enough to remember a time before e-mail) still value their IT systems primarily for their efficiency, not their potential for insight. The greatest benefit of your IT system should be its capacity to help make good decisions, not merely reduce your printing and postage costs.

Once the sole purview of Fortune 500 companies, IT systems that allow even small associations to collect and analyze data are becoming more sophisticated and much less expensive. This is due to the explosive growth of cloud computing and Software-as-a-Service. Add the emerging capabilities of machine learning, and you have a very exciting recipe for data-driven decision making that everyone can use.

The shift towards modern technology is on, and the role of IT within your organization is evolving with it. Gone are the days of buying a server and hosting your data in-house, replaced by cloud-based data storage with the likes of Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, and Box, to name a few. Want to send an email campaign out to your members and track the results? MailChimp is best for that. Looking to plan and manage events? Eventbrite is hard to beat, and the data it provides afterwards is compelling. Selling products online? Shopify is the clear choice, and the sophistication of their system is evolving much more rapidly than any ‘one-size-fits-all’ Association Management System (AMS) could ever hope for.

What do all these platforms have in common? All you need is an Internet connection and a web browser or app. Modern software isn’t download and installed, it’s purchased through a subscription and accessed with a login account.

For decades, associations have been limited to traditional AMS software to run their IT. Such systems promise all the features you need to run your organization but instead are fraught with problems. How can one software company build the best tools for every aspect of your business? The answer is simple: it’s not possible.

At the 2017 Engaging Associations Forum, we’re excited to share our knowledge and real world examples of how you can embrace modern technology at your association. We’ll demystify “the cloud,” talk about shifts in technology, and how you can position your organization with a flexible, more future-proof approach to IT.

Hope to see you there!

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