Wrapping up my series on the Top 5 AMS Trends You Need to Know, you might recall that we’ve already covered:
- Trend #1: Integration still rules
- Trend #2: Hosted vs. SaaS AMS
- Trend #3: The rise of the CRM
- Trend #4: Going mobile
Now we turn to a topic I’m particularly passionate about: data.
Trend #5: Business intelligence is becoming a reality
Reporting is one of the weakest aspects of today’s AMS. Instead of focusing attention on the latest bells and whistles, AMS vendors should be giving associations the ability to more effectively use the data they collect.
An AMS shouldn’t merely be a data storage device. An AMS should be a business intelligence resource that helps an association become more strategic and move forward.
Business intelligence (BI) is not the same as reporting. BI is acquired when you can:
- Ask questions of your system.
- Get answers to those questions via data pulled from various sources.
- Then make intelligent business decisions for your organization.
For example, you might want to know: what is the location of young members who are participating the most at our in-person meetings? You’d be hard pressed to find associations that can successfully get an answer to that type of question from their systems.
Here’s the good news: more associations are not only talking about using data and BI effectively, they’re doing it. More vendors are incorporating BI capabilities within their systems. And, third-party vendors are helping clients with BI work—pulling data from their AMS and other systems into a central hub.
Joanna Pineda (CEO of the Matrix Group) and I agree that the market demand for BI tools is coming from executive and senior staff who want to use technology in a strategic way, not merely as an operational tool. Associations that have moved on the IT Maturity Model from functional to effective (and ultimately to innovative) are eager to use their data to make intelligent business decisions. But until an organization has reached IT maturity, it’s difficult for people to understand the necessity of this technology.
Moving along the IT maturity spectrum and toward a BI mindset requires people to come together for a good deal of organizational soul-searching.
- What are we trying to achieve?
- What kind of information do we need?
- Where will it come from?
- How best should it be presented to us?
This exercise requires effort, but the impact is enormous: you can take advantage of a valuable, under-used resource within your reach—member and constituent data.
If you want to be the association of the future, you need to take advantage of that resource and have someone advocate for a business intelligence strategy. Why not you?
Flickr photo by SenselAlan