ASAE Foundation research shows that while associations are keeping pace with technology trends and changes, more intentional engagement of IT leaders in strategic planning can push them to the front of the pack.
Association leaders know that serving member needs effectively is increasingly rooted in providing members with the level of digital service they are accustomed to receiving in all facets of their lives. The ASAE Foundation's Technology Success and Readiness Study found that technology investments provide major returns for associations.
Members who were highly satisfied with their association's technology were 41 percent more likely to be highly satisfied with their membership than members who were not highly satisfied with association technology. Similarly, 95 percent of those highly satisfied with technology were highly likely to renew their membership, compared to 78 percent of those who were not highly satisfied.
How are leaders ensuring that their technology supports their members' satisfaction? To maximize member use of technology, association leaders must consider technology at every level of the strategic decision-making processes.
95% Percentage of members who are highly satisfied with technology that are highly likely to renew their membership
Some involvement by IT teams is obvious: 88 percent of respondents reported that IT is involved in technology selection. But IT staff frequently support the business goals of their organization, too. In 72 percent of the organizations surveyed, IT departments had an understanding of their organization's business goals, with 44 percent crafting IT projects specifically to advance them. Seventy-five percent of respondents involve IT in strategic planning, though only half incorporate IT leadership as full partners in the strategic plan.
A potential opportunity for associations to increase IT engagement with organizational strategy is through the creation of active, internal forums where technology issues and initiatives are openly discussed and debated.
Of the associations surveyed, 43 percent had no such forum. Thirty-six percent of those surveyed had a forum to resolve issues, but only 12 percent had a forum that allowed for debate and discussion. For associations that are driving toward a truly innovative level of IT maturity, actively fostering such forums would enable their leaders to identify and address current issues and those on the horizon.
Meanwhile, although association leaders clearly recognize the expertise of their technology professionals and rightly rely on it to make important financial and strategic decisions, they could be doing more to cultivate that know-how.
Associations are offering training to their IT staff: 40 percent offer training targeted toward job performance requirements or career progression, and 28 percent offer training periodically or in response to requests or issues (21 percent offer no training at all). But only 9 percent of organizations offer training to their IT staff that can be classified as cutting edge. Offering opportunities for technology staff to learn about the newest trends in the sector is a way for organizations to become truly innovative in their use and application of technology and to recruit and retain top talent in the field.
Staying ahead of the technology curve is an ongoing challenge. According to the foundation's research, only 9 percent of respondents rated as "innovative" in their IT maturity. To get to that level, association leaders must increase efforts to fully integrate IT leaders and staff into the organization's strategic planning.