Highlights from the 2015 ASAE Technology Conference and Expo

Posted by Payam Pourkhomami on Dec 24, 2015 9:00:00 AM

ASAE Technology Conference and Expo | OSIbeyond

Last week, nearly 1,200 association professionals traveled to the 10th annual ASAE Technology Conference in the Gaylord National Convention Center at National Harbor, Maryland.

One of the highlights of this conference, besides reconnecting with old friends and colleagues, are the learning sessions. This year, ASAE focused education around, “the five pathways,” which included technology disrupters, leadership and strategy, learning and technology, MarComm and technology, and the business of IT.

Whether you are interested in leveraging big data, learning about the internet of things (IOT), or sharpening your digital strategy skills, the tech conference had educational learning sessions to meet everyone's needs.

Our team attending the conference compiled key highlights from some of the sessions. 

Jump to the session summary below:

  1. If the AMS is Dead… What’s Next?
  2. Formulating a Web Content Strategy
  3. COO Approaches to Technology Strategy
  4. Making Technology the Driver of Your Business Strategy
  5. CEOs and Leading in a Technology Disruptive Environment
  6. How to Survive a Data Breach

If the AMS is Dead… What’s Next?

What systems do associations need to run their organization? Has the traditional AMS become a costly and complicated burden? In this lively session, industry and association professionals discuss the current state of the AMS and where it’s heading in the future. 

While associations do lag behind on using data to drive decisions, they understand the profound impact it has to both their organization and the members they serve. It’s this awareness that has changed the way associations view technology, and in effect altered their purchasing behavior.

For example, associations are taking a member first approach, and this is because most associations are in the business of content, training, and providing network opportunities. Most importantly, this approach is focused on engaging with members the way they want to be engaged with.

As such, associations are seeking solutions that allow them to effectively, and efficiently engage with their members.

There was some thoughtful debate that the traditional AMS model could be overthrown as less expensive and lower impact software, such as HubSpot, become widely available. However, the general consensus was that the AMS is not dead, but has rather evolved to meet the changing needs of associations. 

Formulating a Web Content Strategy

The American Chiropractic Association recently reevaluated over 5,000 pages of their website with the focus of creating fresh and relevant content for their members. In this session, the success of ACA is analyzed to provide associations guidance in creating a successful web content strategy.

An association’s website should be viewed as an educational tool to engage with, and provide vital information to members. In order to prevent website neglect due to under funding, board members should be aware of the impact a website serves for its members.

This ensures websites are not an afterthought, whereby maintaining the functional use of the website becomes the priority, not leveraging its full potential as a powerful engagement tool.

When reevaluating your website, it’s critical to implement a strategy that delivers the best customer service to your members. Most importantly, build your site around the needs of your members. This includes ease of use, intuitive design, and understanding what information your members are seeking to learn. 

COO Approaches to Technology Strategy

In this panel style session, COOs discuss how they balance priorities with operational realities to meet strategic technology initiatives in their organization.

One panelist noted practicing “trend awareness” suggesting COOs should be aware of the solutions and innovations being most commonly adapted in their industry. While it may seem obvious to adopt new solutions, the focus should be on implementing new technologies that make a process easier, or more efficient.

In addition, fostering a successful strategy begins with involving colleagues across all departments in the process, ensuring technology initiatives are aligned with the overall goals and needs of the organization.

In the end, the COOs role is likened to that of a cheerleader, fulfilling a supporting role to inspire those around and under them to get the job done.

Related case studies: 


Making Technology the Driver of Your Business Strategy

Data and technology continue to be essential in our daily lives, yet it is often an afterthought for many organizations. The focus of this session is to tear down the disconnect between associations and technology, in an effort to integrate it into the overall strategy of an organization.

When thinking about strategy, it’s easy to not conceptualize or visualize the objective trying to be achieved. In order to remain grounded, strategy should be viewed as a collection of decisions by an organization that define the unique value for its members.

Five Basic Principles to Create a Great Strategy:

1. What is the Goal?

Often, the goal is never truly expressed or understood. Before moving forward, fully understand what this goal is attempting to achieve. Next, define any bottlenecks that may prevent achieving this goal by assessing your organization.

2. It’s Not You, It’s Me

Accountability begins, and ends with leaders, but leaders need to get out of their own way. For example, top down leaders tend to push employees who are unable to provide feedback.

As such, there is a need to distribute leadership throughout the organization. Leaders need to be aware of people around them and their strengths, or weaknesses.

3. Small and Scalable

Sometimes our eyes are bigger than stomach when looking at tech solutions. It's important to take a minimalist approach when selecting a viable product. By doing so, organizations won't risk under utilization of the solution itself.

Next, take the goal, or strategy and test it for immediate feedback. While the solution in the eyes of leadership may be a clear winner, staff may not have the same feeling, leading to less effective use of the technology.

4. Disruptive vs. Sustaining

If this goal is something radical in your organization, it's more than likely that the existing technical infrastructure will not be capable of support these activities.

In this event, consider thinking outside the box for a solution that can be supported by existing infrastructure.

5. Most Critical Component

Feedback from initial testers is critical in achieving an organization's goal. There has to be a willingness from leadership to adapt if the feedback is not overwhelmingly positive.

CEOs and Leading in a Technology Disruptive Environment

What does Uber and Airbnb have in common? They both rely on IT as the foundation for doing business. In this session, CEOs discussed their perspectives on technology, disruption, expectations of technology staff, and the challenges of preparing members and staff to meet changing needs.

In a digital economy, where change is being drive by technology, incremental change is no longer an option. In order to keep pace, transformation has to occur in every aspect of business.

This disruption, at times, is unavoidable and if your organization is not quick to adapt to the changing environment, you’ll be left behind.

Take for example Uber’s entrance into New York City. Today, there are more Uber Blacks operating in the city than there are iconic yellow cabs. As a result of this disruption, the medallions used to regulate the industry have seen a steady decline in value since 2013.

Change is also occurring at an exponential rate, further fueled by technology. In a period of 6 years, Airbnb went from managing zero hotel rooms to over 1 million. In contrast, it took both Marriot and Hilton 100 years to reach this milestone.

The question posed in both these scenarios is:

“How would you think differently about your strategy if you knew your advantage might not last?”

In the case of technology, it should be viewed as a strategy accelerator. This allows organizations to innovate often, decide quickly, succeed or fail, and repeat, all while not being left behind.

How to Survive a Data Breach

What would happen if your association experienced a data breach? Would you be prepared if  your data was compromised? In this session,  experts lay out a a plan of action for how organization's can proactively protect themselves in the event of a security breach.

  1. Identify insecurities by testing your system, and updating retention policies.
  2. Test and train employees to understand what actions create these insecurities. 
  3. Understand all relevant legal and regulatory requirements for notifying security breaches.
  4. Draft a, "dream team" comprised of insurance, forensic, legal, communications, and HR professionals to respond to a breach.
  5. Plan, build, test, refine, repeat.

This method proved invaluable to Home Depot, as there was limited damage to their reputation and bottom line from a breach of over 56 million credit cards. In comparison, the security breach of Target caused significant damage to their reputation and a loss of 46% in profit due to a lack of planning.

ASAE Technology Conference & Expo

Topics: ASAE Technology Conference