It’s a no-brainer that the members are the core of any membership organisation, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult for associations to compete with blossoming technologies and an increasing number of other digital platforms for exchange and cooperation between organisations
For years, the tried-and-tested membership-based model has been a success, but in a landscape that’s becoming more digital by the day, members are expecting a more integrated and personalised experience.
The answer for professional associations is to embrace a process that is happening anyway: digital transformation.
Research from IDC shows that more than two-thirds of the 2,000 global CEOs surveyed plan to shift their energies from offline to online strategies by the end of 2019 in order to improve consumer experience. A further 34% claimed they’ll be diving head first into digital transformation within 12 months or less.
If all this talk of digital transformation has you scratching your head, you’re not alone.
In fact, the biggest mistake associations make is thinking that digital transformation simply means “going paperless” or automating certain processes. But, in reality, it goes a whole lot deeper than that – we’re talking about something much bigger and more strategic.
The primary goal is not to protect and defend what you are doing today. Instead, organisations should be seeking to change and expand what they are doing, leveraging the new possibilities that emerging technologies have created. Only this will ensure continued competitiveness tomorrow. In other words: play offence, not defence.
Those technologies may include things like artificial intelligence, big data, internet of things, and cloud – but digital transformation is about strategy more than it is about technology. Technology is just an enabler.
What is digital transformation anyway?
Peter Boag sums it up nicely: digital transformation is “the realignment of, or new investment in, technology and business models to more effectively engage digital customers at every touchpoint in the customer experience lifecycle.”
The digital tools available to you now give you the incredible ability to anticipate what members want and need based on their previous interactions with your association.
Organisations are beginning to realise the importance of digital transformation if they want to stay ahead of the game, and those that are already implementing it are seeing great results. In fact, an MIT study found that companies that have embraced digital transformation are 26% more profitable than those that haven’t.
So how is digital transformation actually improving member experience?
Four ways digital transformation improves member experience
Empowers and engages members
First and foremost, digital transformation is putting the power in member’s hands. This means they can become narrators of their own story thanks to advanced information and tools that allow the facilitation of knowledge sharing.
Putting digital strategies in place that makes it easier for members to find what they’re looking for (and share it) means they can make more efficient use of their time and focus on what matters most to them.
Today, time is such a valuable asset, and the 47% of companies that haven’t started their digital transformation yet are missing out on providing their customers with more of the thing they crave the most.
Engagement and collaboration are at the core of a great digital transformation strategy, as highlighted by Christie Tarantino-Dean, the CEO of IFT: “We’re working very hard to build more digital engagement and collaboration among our teams and embrace innovation as a core value,” she says.
There are an insurmountable number of technologies and softwares out there that knowing where to start is a huge task in itself.
In fact, 45% of executives think their companies don’t have the necessary tech to create and implement a digital transformation strategy.
However, the range of tech available is empowering associations to integrate into broader B2B platform ecosystems. This means they have more detailed data to draw from and a range of more effective tools to work with (many of which are underpinned by supporting AI), leading to an increased impact and more positive member experiences.
The majority of organisations realise the benefit of this, with 86% believing that cloud technology is crucial for digital transformation.
Organisations are racing to incorporate third-party tools to supercharge their already-powerful databases to add even more value. Using emerging technologies like Big Data and AI means organisations can get a better insight into quantitative and qualitative data analysis.
Through the cloud, you can test new projects quickly and cost-effectively to figure out what works best for your members.
Helps optimise activities and focus
Your members likely all have one thing in common: their occupation or their professional activities.
Past that point, your members will share many similarities and differences – so much so, that it can be difficult to cater to every need.
Some members might want to engage with tons of content, while others might have specific segments of information they’re on the hunt for.
This is where digital transformation really comes into its own, allowing you to customise your processes to suit each individual member’s needs.
Technologies can help you personalise content output depending on a member’s previous interaction with your organisation; it can help you run comprehensive member data profiling to determine the best products, services, and help you can offer each member; and it can help you quickly adapt to member preferences in real-time.
More consumers than ever are craving a more personalised experience from the companies they interact with, with many actively offering up their data so they can be served customised experiences.
Frees up staff time
There are a never-ending amount of processes that go into running a membership organisation – we’re talking about everything from applications and renewals to surveys, awards, and planning events.
Each of these processes require a lot of staff hours, not just for the paperwork and documentation, but for the organisational aspects and carrying out important admin tasks.
Digital processes and automated technologies help free up the staff hours it takes to wade through all the little tasks while making sure nothing slips through the cracks. This means your team have more time to provide value to your members.
Creating a culture and an environment where member experience is the most important thing benefits every part of an organisation.
Not only are processes streamlined and made more secure with advanced technologies, but repetitive tasks like sifting through applications and sending out renewals are made ten times easier (and quicker), freeing up time elsewhere in the organisation.
Digital transformation is the future of member experience
With so many new digital community groups and a social platform popping up every day, it’s becoming harder than ever for organisations to serve their members in the way they want and need.
Gone are the days of the tried-and-tested membership model.
Instead, we’re moving into an era where advanced technologies and digital solutions are helping to create personalised experiences, boost engagement, and generate failsafe strategies that are steeped in solid data and hard facts. All of this is nurturing a new organisational landscape where member experiences are the focal point.