Strategically Evaluating Your Association’s IT Readiness

Bill Rowan | 08.26.16
Topics: CIO - Digital Transformation - IT Maturity

Dave joined ASAE’s Reggie Henry and Rockbridge Associates’ Charles Colby for this session at the ASAE Annual Meeting & Expo in Salt Lake City. This braintrust trio provided updates and insights on ASAE Foundation’s Technology Success Study (which DelCor helped initiate and continues to support, and for which Rockbridge is the research provider). But it was the Q&A that opened the floor to some powerful and thought-provoking discussion.

New Truism: Associations Are Tech-Ready

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: associations and/or their members are slow to adopt technology. That notion was discussed, and possibly debunked, by the data and opinions shared in the session. Take this slide on techno-readiness, for example, with data taken directly from Rockbridge’s research for ASAE Foundation:

Are associations tech-ready? The data doesn't lie.

Data doesn’t lie—association members and staff have fewer technology Hesitators and Avoiders than the general population! How can that be?

“Most people are sufficiently tech savvy,” declared Reggie, even if they aren’t expert users. What’s more, added Dave, “Tech savviness is a function of value proposition. If something delivers value, people will learn how to use it.”

So, are associations deploying technology systems and products their staff and members find valuable? There’s no sweeping answer to that question—you have to assess your own IT maturity to determine whether you’re innovating or lagging behind.

Keep this in mind, said Reggie, “Technology readiness is not about technology. It’s about how well you can deliver value to your members. Technology is not operational. It’s strategic.”

Hot Topic: Digital Maturity

Another topic of discussion was the rise of the digital organization. I confess, I’ve been reading a lot about this in recent months, and I still don’t fully get it. (Cut me some slack—I’m a marketer, not a technologist!) As this concept becomes clearer to me, what emerges is a new approach that blends strategy, culture, and operations to impact relationships—primarily constituent relationships, but also an organization’s own ability to run both efficiently and innovatively.

For those who still think digital = online, you might be slipping behind the curve. Digital doesn’t just impact your website or mean PDFing everything to make it accessible—it’s a new way of doing business.

“Don’t just put stuff online,” pleaded Dave. “Consider how you’re thinking about products, services, management, and strategy from a digital perspective.”

What does this new digital perspective mean? In her reflections on the session, YourMembership’s Peggy Smith described a simple but evocative real-life example of a digitally disconnected organization. Her story rings painfully true: organizations that don’t start thinking ahead, connecting the dots, and working toward IT maturity in their data, management, network, and digital frontiers will get dinged. You must assume that ‘meeting expectations’ is no longer enough.

Does Your Organization Measure Up?

The research team unveiled an action-oriented assessment tool designed to help association executives self-evaluate your organization’s IT maturity (based in part on DelCor’s IT Maturity Model) and tech-readiness in the context of your goals for overall success—your mission, vision, and business objectives. To see where you stand, take ASAE Foundation’s IT Maturity Mini-Survey.

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