3 Takeaways from ASAE’s Annual Conference

The ASAE community gathered in Atlanta this year at the annual conference to network, educate, and celebrate Associations, Membership Organizations, and Nonprofits. “Shape Your Purpose” was the overall theme of the event, and it was evident in all areas of the conference that attendees were focused on discussing and learning from each other how to focus their organization’s work and community.  

I am sharing some of my observations from a packed three-day event for those who might not have been able to attend the event. One overall thought is that the attendees seemed to be focused on not just the “how” of doing the work of associations, but the “why.” The “why” is so important in leading an organization and its members to their goals and defining and executing strategy and tactics. 

Important Takeaways 

1. Member Experience Remains the Top Priority

Associations have talked about member experience for as long as I have been in this industry. How can we increase the value of membership? How do we demonstrate to both members and prospects that not only do our associations and membership organizations have some of the best content, but we have the biggest and brightest minds in our community?  

Many people want to move past the theory of membership experience and move on to understanding what to do to enhance it. We listened to sessions and had conversations around initiatives to study more than survey information and focus groups to figure out what steps should be next.

2. Focus on What You are Trying to Solve with Data First

Data is still a hot topic, but the conversation has slightly changed.  I heard many leaders acknowledge that they know they have data but are concerned if it is the right data and whether they have access to it. Many associations recognize there are tools to help them bring their data together, and in some cases, they have new realizations: a. they don’t have a strategy or b. they don’t know how to use the information they have received from their technology.

I even heard some acknowledge that they are planning to implement a new major technology system and have not stepped back and thought about their data strategy. It is key to think about what you are trying to solve and what your end goals are for data collection, management, and analysis.  This gave me hope that we are ready to include deep thinking of how data can shape our member engagement and tactical operations of delivering our services.

3. Artificial Intelligence is an Enabler, not a “Silver Bullet”

Leading up to the event, there was a lot of discussion on Artificial Intelligence, what it can do for the staff of an organization, how it can help members search for information and content, and how it can help us understand what our members need and want. At this event, I felt like we were finally returning to the “why” of using AI and how it will eventually be a part of our technical arsenal. 

While this technology will increasingly benefit all industries, Associations are on the downside of the hype cycle and asking the right questions. Attendees seemed focused on asking about how to use technology best to solve challenges. People are starting to come to the realization that, eventually, AI technologies will be weaved into the solutions they have or will buy, and they will not be specifically shopping for a generative AI tool for their business. 

What’s Next?

We were fortunate to speak with many attendees who shared their challenges around meeting the needs of their members and, in many ways, not able to shape the purpose of their organization with antiquated processes and tools. The stories were different, but the challenges were similar and real.  

At UDig, we enable you to gain insight into what your members want, make the most of your technology investments, and reimagine your member experience by aligning your technology and data efforts with your strategic plan to help you hit the KPIs that matter most. There are solutions for these common challenges, a great next generation of leaders, and meetings like ASAE Annual to bring people together to solve these challenges. 


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