Associations experiencing growth are often faced with a whole new set of challenges. From meeting the needs of new members to keeping up with industry standards, investing in the right technology for your association is imperative to sustaining and creating new value.
We sat down with Connor Lee, Technology Specialist at Ewald Consulting, who discusses different factors associations should consider when choosing to implement new technology and software.
1. Ewald Consulting clients have experienced exciting growth this year. How are associations’ technology needs evolving?
As client associations grow, so does every aspect of what makes them a valuable forum for the profession. There are more members from a wider geography, more educational programs, new initiatives and industry standards, and more data. All those areas contribute to the value that an association contributes to the profession.
It takes creativity to find a novel way to add value for association members, and most of that creativity involves the way an association utilizes technology. The challenge is then finding what kinds of software fit together in an integrated system to allow for association leaders to focus on what value to provide their members rather than how.
In the past, the tech stack for an association was small. There was a database, website, basic email service and perhaps a digital meeting component. The challenge for associations is that now people are used to their customer journey experiences from big B2C brands and expect similar experiences from their associations. New tech stack considerations must include software that connects member data and creates positive, seamless experiences.
2. What are the most helpful questions associations leaders can ask themselves and their boards when planning their tech stack?
When thinking about a tech stack, it helps to imagine it in terms of an ecosystem. Each software should have a specific niche, and work well with others in the stack. Thus, key considerations should be formed as questions:
- What are our association goals in the next 3-5 years?
- What technology needs do we foresee in implementing our strategic plan?
- How will this add value to our members and the profession?
- Does this software have integrations that fit with our current tech stack?
- How does this software contribute to the overall efficiency of our staff and volunteer efforts?
- What support services come with this software?
Above all else, the technology should have a meaningful fit in the strategic plan.
3. What technology trends for associations are you most excited for in 2023?
I am excited to see what the role of machine learning will be in the association field. Given enough data on a subject, a computer can predict just about anything on any subject. This can include creating a newsletter from scratch, deciding what colors will work better in an advertisement, the best practices in keynote speeches; the possibilities are endless. It will also be interesting to see what kinds of member engagement software will work best, what strategies they will adopt, and how members will react to these strategies.
Consider some of these factors when evaluating your goals as an association and how technology can help get you there.