When an association’s leadership team discusses technology, the conversation is often driven by budget-related issues, like system selections. That’s a relevant topic for discussion, but I implore you to put these 5 critical technology issues on the top of your agenda.
1. A culture of security
We haven’t seen many associations in the recent headlines about security breaches. However, more headlines are inevitable given the complacency about security and overreliance on firewalls, spam filters, and other security tools. Those tools are necessary, but they can’t fix one of the most critical security risks: your organization’s culture.
Everyone has a role in the security of your organization’s data, network infrastructure, and other digital assets. Your staff leadership team must take steps to build a culture of security throughout your organization. Start by talking with your IT team about security vulnerabilities. Ask them to identify the most common vulnerabilities and find out who’s accountable for their prevention and what steps must be taken to address those vulnerabilities.
2. IT as a business unit
In the last 5 years, we’ve seen the emergence of the IT department as a business unit as opposed to an operational unit. In mature organizations, the IT department is a strategic partner to business departments. The IT team brings a uniquely informed perspective to planning discussions. They help their colleagues understand how technology and business intelligence can be used to achieve their goals. Is your IT team ready for that role? Is your staff ready to accept them in that role?
3. Data governance
If it takes 2 days for someone to fulfill a request for data, it’s time for your organization to have a data governance conversation. Gather a representative group—one person from each business unit that works with data—to oversee data governance and maintenance.
Data isn’t a technical issue or IT concern; it’s a business issue. Each business unit must identify the data they absolutely need to do their jobs. Do you have that data? Where is it stored? Who manages it? How clean is it? The cleanliness (or integrity) of your data is critical; otherwise, it won’t be trusted or used effectively.
4. Cloud clauses
Before you sign a cloud hosting contract, come to an understanding on these 3 issues:
- Find someone who will scrutinize the Service Level Agreement (SLA) to ensure it provides the level of support you need.
- Don’t assume the host will automatically back up your data—because in many cases they won’t. Ask about backups and make your own plans.
- Read the section in the contract or terms and conditions about data ownership. Once you move your data to the cloud, who has rights to it? The Google Drive agreement used to say that Google could repurpose and reuse anything you stored in their cloud. Beware.
5. Mobile-first websites
During a session with Reggie Henry of ASAE and Russ Magnuson of Results Direct, we asked a room of 200 attendees to raise their hands if their website was mobile-friendly: 1/3 of the room had their hands in the air. However, when we asked if they were happy with their mobile presence, all but 10 of them put their hands down.
I remain very concerned about the state of mobile in our community. What’s particularly alarming is the lack of a mobile mindset among associations whose members are in ‘mobile’ professions. Websites can no longer be geared toward the desktop member or prospect. You must surface your association’s value proposition in a mobile environment.
Think hard—and fast.
Don’t let too much time go by before your leadership team addresses these 5 critical issues. If you need some help, let’s get in touch.
Flickr photo by Nature'sAura - C.McKee