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Identifying Association Trends – It’s About the Data

by | Jan 23, 2015 | Membership & Marketing

This month we’re focusing on trends and strategies for associations in 2015. We just released The Essential Guide to 2015 Association Management Trends, where we examine evolving technologies, changing member preferences and differences in generational values that pose management challenges for associations. It’s free to download, so be sure and get your copy today.

We also recently kicked off our second year of YM’s monthly CAE Certified Thought Leadership Webinars with Shelly Alcorn, CAE. She presented Fads, Trends and Signals: Three Keys to Successful Innovation for Associations. We looked at some of the changes in society that are driving the rapid evolution of technology, and how they can telegraph changes coming in our association environments.

Shelly shared strategies and techniques to distinguish between fads, trends and signals to help associations stay relevant in the lives of their members. Some of these ideas focused on taking an innovative approach to tackling this challenge. As Shelly said, “It is one thing to say you want to be innovative, and completely another to figure out how to do so.”

In line with this thought we asked four poll questions to gain an understanding of how these association professionals viewed themselves and their organizations.

First we asked, do you think your organization is innovative?

  • 51% said sometimes
  • 21% said it depends on the situation

We asked what do you think is the biggest challenge of innovation?

  • 49% responded lack of time
  • 25% said lack of funding

Next, we want to know what was more important in decision making linked to innovation?

  • 58% said analyzing data
  • 42% responded using their intuition or gut feeling

Finally, we asked what are association areas most ripe for disruptive innovation?

  • 37% identified professional development
  • 31% responded dues or member recruitment

One of the trends we see as unavoidable will be the need for associations to position themselves as 24/7 on demand service providers. Expectations around purchasing and accessing services and information been radically transformed by technology. What started with “pioneers” like Amazon, Netflix, Facebook and LinkedIn, has spread into all areas of modern culture.

Data collection and analysis is key to successfully understanding member needs and developing programs and services that meet those needs. The membership management technology available to associations to perform this work has never been more affordable. Associations have the tools at their disposal to become proactive rather than reactive to serving the current and future needs of their members. They can transform their operations to actually lead rather than rush to catch up to where members are going. Using technology to drive engagement and increase member value should be a trend all associations take advantage of.

We’ll dig deeper into these ideas next week as we present Episode 11 of Ask the Thought Leader with Shelly. She’ll take on the questions and observations that were shared during the presentation. It should make for an interesting conversation.

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