In the recent Digital Member Study, we found that a majority of members say technology plays a big role in their everyday lives. In fact, members in general are ahead on the technology adoption curve (see chart below). Sixty-three percent of members identify themselves as ahead of the curve or early adopters of technology. But, what does this really mean for associations?
We know there’s a disconnect between the rate members and associations are adopting new technology. If your organization isn’t proactive with technology planning, your members could leave you behind for alternatives that deliver the same value in the digital way they like to engage and consume. This isn’t about implementing every new technology that emerges, but it is important for your organization to keep a pulse on member technology usage and expectations.
Prepare for the Future with Early Adopter Members
If you find your organization is struggling to stay ahead of the curve with evolving technology, turn to your early adopter members to help keep a pulse on shifting expectations and preferences. Incorporate member surveying and focus groups in your technology planning to gain insights into changing member needs before it’s too late. Since early adopters are the first to embrace new technology, they can provide a roadmap for where member behavior and expectations are heading.
The top way early adopter members want to engage with their association is through their smartphone. Organizations can no longer ignore the need for a mobile-first strategy. Take the time to map out your member mobile experience. This extends beyond your website. Also, evaluate the mobile experience for communications and content via email, online communities, and education courses. Future content design should be for digital, mobile consumption rather than forcing printed content online.
Early adopter members also show more interest in engaging with their association through emerging technologies such as wearables, smart speakers/TVs, and virtual reality. These devices can help provide more seamless daily engagement for associations. Associations are already finding ways to incorporate timely notifications, simplified registration, and seamless digital event experiences into their technology strategy. It’s an important time for your organizations to evaluate future plans for leveraging these devices. There will only be a growing amount of possibilities to extend engagement and improve the overall member experience.
Leveraging Emerging Technologies to Empower Your Association Staff
The rise in popularity and functionality of emerging technologies not only affords opportunities to provide a better member experience, it also can be a powerful tool to empower association staff. Most are excited about the prospect of accessing all of their software and platform tools from a mobile device, allowing for more work flexibility.
Other emerging trends, such as leveraging machine learning or predictive intelligence, empower staff with actionable insights. However, these insights are only as good as the data to which your systems have access. Prioritizing data analytics and business intelligence will be important as organization prepare for the future. We’ll dive deeper into that topic in future blog posts.
A full copy of the Digital Member Study is available for free here.