5 Ways Technology Is Impacting Member Engagement Like Never Before

What should you know about digital disruption? I listened via the #AUC2016 livestream to ”Why Does Everything We Know About Engaging Members Seem Wrong?” If you missed it or want a refresher, here’s a helpful recap.

Member engagement & technologyJohn Mancini is a speaker today on technology changes, inbound marketing, and association management. His AUC keynote combined elements of all three topics. He is the former CEO and now “Chief Evangelist” for AIIM (Assocation for Information and Image Management). Their mission is helping organizations to streamline and organize their information assets.

AIIM started as the National Microfilm Association in the 1950s and adapted as information technology has developed. So Mancini knows associations need to figure out how to manage and serve their own long histories in a future of disruption. He openly says his two biases are 1) He is an “association guy” who believes associations should play an invaluable role in society. 2) He is a “technology guy,” not a technical person, but someone who loves technology and how it transforms our lives. The nexus of those two outlooks is member engagement. How should associations and technology intersect in an era of unprecedented disruption?

Mancini believes disruption means five things for association leaders.

1. We all represent professions and industries that are radically changing.

Member engagementIf you’ve thought the past 20 years of change is disruptive, just wait to see what we are on the cusp of. Mancini referenced the example of JP Morgan Chase, an AIIM client, where teller processing of checks cost them 65 cents per transaction, an ATM is 8 cents per transaction, and now mobile device processing is just 3 cents per transaction. This kind of disruption is everywhere.  Associations have to decide whether we compete on price efficiency or on more brand value?  It’s hard when someone is 2000% cheaper.

Disruption is hard to see out the windshield, but easy from the rearview mirror. When something is fundamentally disrupted, 90% of the value disappears within a decade. The newspaper industry, and even once disruptive tech like Blackberry, follows this pattern. Why is this occurring throughout the entire economy?  The answer is semiconductor capacities and Moore’s Law—semiconductor capacity doubles every 12 to 18 months.

The takeaway? Every industry is becoming a software industry.  Software improves faster than hardware. We’re 10 years away from fantastic.

2. How we involve our staff in technology decisions has to change.

In 30 years, associations have gone from no computers to all our staff becoming computer experts.  Staff want to be able to work on IT systems as good as the consumer space.  The enterprise space needs to catch up.

Mancini says you will find three tech perspectives within your association.

The Process Person – How quick? How cheap? How to do this without involving IT?

The IT Person – Is it secure and scalable? Is the vendor reliable?  Will I be stuck supporting this thing?

The Tech Savvy ‘Average’ Person – Do I put my stuff in Google Drive?  Evernote? Dropbox? OneDrive? Is there a policy? Can I work how and where I want? They will also always find ways to apply technology that the older executives never thought about. 

3. We need to question our assumptions around our core technology products.

We need to change the way we think about core technology. Investing in an AMS isn’t always the same as investing in engaging members. We’re in a new era. This is a long-term change that is fundamental in the future of the association space. It is now impossible to store all your member data points into an AMS. So it is about connecting everything. 

John Mancini is officially done with customization.  AIIM is only investing in configuration, not customization, and he believes that needs to be policy for all associations. 

Consumer software APIs are open, but AMS APIs have not been.

So the AMS itself is going to be disrupted. (You can read about Aptify’s plans to do just that here as well.) 

4. Old definitions of community need to be reinvented.

I work hard and then commute hard to be home before kiddo bedtime. So I feel the same as Mancini’s son and daughter-in-law who are not going to his three-hour member meeting downtown for an association chapter. AIIM’s chapter bylaws requires a 12-page form to start a new chapter. This is archaic according to Mancini–but changing this is a third rail. Changing the patterns of community requires great courage.

“If we build it they will come” does not always work online. Mancini says the traditional association community model is clunky–but on LinkedIn you don’t own the data and it is full of selling. 

Young people like me ARE interested in community, we just don’t join ones that do not fit our lives! What do we join? That’s point 5.

5. Engagement in the future means open platform communities, focused on user-generated content and curation, mobile, and integration to consumer-wide social networks.

Member engagementWhen your community is treated as an “open garden” where you invite people in, they will engage with user-generated content and curated news. It is just like the Huffington Post or any of these new foodie networks popping up and removing the barriers-to-entry for communities. Put it on mobile so they can access when and where they best can, then integrate your association community to consumer-wide social networks so the information and engagement can spread.

AssociationSuccess.org is an example of this type of movement to ‘Community 2.0.’ 

John Mancini’s keynote provided multiple takeaways for association leaders. His talk gave listeners a preview and a competitive advantage to take his insights and move forward with better engagement that treats massive disruption as opportunity, not chaos. Aptify’s own product and community vision aligns with those thoughts, so check out our Painted Picture as well.

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