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What role does technology play in supporting the process of reimagining associations?


On September 15th, Fonteva welcomes Reggie Henry, CAE, KiKi L’Italien, Dave Martin, and Ben Muscolino to tackle some of the big questions facing associations as they look toward and plan for the future. 

As a precursor to that event, we asked each to share a brief answer to the question, What role does technology play in supporting the process of reimagining associations? Answers are listed as shared with Fonteva directly by the panelists.

Reggie Henry, CAE
Chief Information & Engagement Officer

We’ve all heard this before, but it’s people, process, and systems that make an organization go. It’s really important that technology supports the people and processes of an organization. It’s really important that technology strategy  acknowledges the here and now, as well as the future, and provides pathways for organizations to achieve their strategic goals. All too often, technology or technology models, hamper or constrain organizations. We need to rethink the basic association technology model/stack with the future in mind.

KiKi L’Italien
Association Chat Community Host

That *is* technology’s role – to support the process. Technology is not a magical potion. But with a great process, it sure can seem like it. When I used to talk about social media to groups all the time, I used to tell people that the most important part of their strategy didn’t need any computer at all. Just the focused attention of several individuals and an idea of what the goals should be. Once you have clarity around that, you can create a smarter process. With a smarter process, you can find some amazing technology to help you achieve almost anything. But expecting any technology by itself to pave the way to the future for an association is like believing that a laptop can walk your dog.

Dave Martin
Blue Cypress

Technology supports methodology and together they support the process of reimagining the association. For example, Hubspot supports the inbound marketing methodology, Jira and Trello support the agile methodology, and Align supports the Scaling Up methodology. You have to have both. Too often we are attracted by the shiny new toy (i.e. technology) and start using it without understanding the methodology or strategy that supports it and really makes it work. So think first and implement technology second.

Ben Muscolino
President & CEO

Generally speaking, people run associations, not technology.  But people need to run the technology to make the business run.  Technology is a piece, be it large or small, of someones day.  If you can get your people to understand their job and those around them better, and invite them into the process of describing how their time is spent on technology, they will point out operational deficiencies and efficiencies, which can be useful across the organization usually.

On the other end of it though, customers and members use and view technology as a way of getting value from us.  From calling in, to registering for an event, updating their information or talking with members; technology has made it easier than ever to “move the line” of access to content for non-members, to streamlining the way members interact.  Listening and acting by thinking forward versus reacting is instrumental in making the best use of technology to reimagine our businesses.

Find all the questions we asked and meet our panelists.

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