More associations are getting strategic about technology, but they may not know where to begin. A new assessment tool, developed by ASAE based on ASAE Foundation research and a tool created by DelCor, will help associations evaluate their tech readiness. Charles Colby, founder of Rockbridge Associates, which helped develop the tool, explains why assessment is critical.
Associations Now: Why is it important to evaluate your association’s IT readiness?
Colby: Organizations can be categorized as being restrictive, functional, effective, or innovative. Only 15 percent, according to our research, are in the innovative category. I think they need to move toward being innovative, because they’re in a position of always being worried about disruption. Just like a cab company is worried about Uber, you’ll potentially have private-sector organizations that can cause problems for associations. Many of them can be private-sector firms representing themselves as having a social mission, and they’re able to access capital, so they will compete for association members and dollars. That makes it critical for associations to stay on top.
What might an association learn from the assessment tool?
The IT maturity questionnaire helps identify areas where the organization is weak and needs to improve. It also should open the eyes of participating organizations to areas they’ve not even considered. An example is with digital content. An association might think, “We’re totally digital, we have a mobile website, and we’re really doing very well there,” but they don’t realize they’re just taking old content and digitizing it. They should be thinking about how people engage digitally and design content that fits this different mode. Cutting-edge methods of digital engagement might include more interactivity and other formats, like video.
What are the practical applications of this knowledge?
While surveying members of associations nationwide, we asked them their satisfaction with the technology delivery of their association. We also asked them how satisfied they are with their association overall. It turns out that their satisfaction with an association’s technology is a driver of their satisfaction and loyalty. If associations fall behind the curve in terms of providing the right types of tools and services for their members, or they fall down in terms of reliability, their member satisfaction will suffer.