Associations might say they’re data-driven, but does it ring true? Here are three actions any organization should take to put data into practice.
The phrase “data driven” is a popular buzzword for associations, but too often that phrase is not reflected in reality. Teams collect data for the mere sake of having it, all while being bewildered by the sheer amount of information they have stored away on their members. Usually, an association’s technological capacity to use data is made up of several piecemeal, band-aid solutions.
Unfortunately, while tech evolves quickly, associations often struggle to keep up. As such, many associations fall prey to technological inertia. Almost always it’s the one-off solutions that become and remain the status quo even in the wake of significant organizational pain. As a result, many associations are left chasing or dodging technical, execution-related issues instead of thinking big about how to put data into daily use.
The solution, while technical, is also to some extent philosophical. To be data-driven, leaders must first get out of the weeds. Audit your data-collection processes and ask: What kind of platform would we build with a blank slate? Do we want employees to spend less time handling mundane, repeatable tasks, or do we want a solution that enables automation and rapid report building, so staff can focus on analyzing the member experience?
The good news is that a data-driven dream might be closer to reality than most realize. With that in mind, here are three actions associations can take to become data-driven, turning that growing pile of data into actionable insights.
From Siloed to Integrated
The task and overhead of collecting and storing data, offering a 360-degree view of member actions, is not easy to initiate or sustain. That’s why so many associations don’t decide to integrate their data, or only integrate certain basic information.
Yet becoming truly data-driven is not as simple as just knocking down a few data silos. There isno way to get better insights from disconnected and difficult-to-work-with data systems. It requires a platform-based solution that’s capable of integrating, processing, and analyzing data in real-time.
From Manual to Automated
Integration isn’t the only benefit of a platform-based solution. Automation is too.
Consider the Food and Drug Law Institute (FDLI), which helps legal professionals in the field connect to colleagues, publish and access scholarly articles, and shape domestic policy. Originally, its AMS required almost everything that members did—product ordering, event registration, contact information updates, and so on—to be manually processed and input by staff.
As part of a larger digital transformation effort FDLI implemented, a new data platform helped to automate many of the association’s common tasks, and reports that took eight hours to create suddenly took just 60 minutes—a massive time savings.
Keep in mind that time is a major pain point that shouldn’t be overlooked, along with the interface’s ease-of-use and mobile access. Once again, the small pain points can add up.
From Reactive to Proactive
Time savings is a crucial benefit to go from data collection to analyzing insights. Instead of requiring a team of data scientists to integrate and analyze all data manually, artificial intelligence (AI) can draw data connections and run tests quickly and easily.
In turn, associations can stop looking in the rearview mirror and look ahead to see which members might not renew in the coming months or years, and why. That’s because AI uses historical data to predict future actions—a concept often referred to as anticipatory intelligence.
As such, association staff, who are no longer bogged down by updating and analyzing data sets, can spend their time improving member engagement or targeting at-risk members with new messages and offers.
In the end, being truly data-driven means being more proactive and engaging with members. It’s the key to becoming an association that can deliver better services and benefits and respond to members’ needs quickly.