October 9, 2014
Your technology is a lynchpin of your association’s operation. And the IT world, like many other areas of your association’s operation, is rapidly changing. Here are the latest 5 IT trends affecting your association.
One trend we’re seeing in the association industry is the convergence of IT systems. Many associations have systems such as association management software, learning management software, financial management systems, online library software and more. All of these systems need to “talk to” one another. Associations need to be able to connect these tools with one another to share knowledge. IT enables this to happen. Whether it’s through implementing central user accounts or just streamlining the number of solutions their association is using, IT professionals are bringing their systems together for added simplicity, ease of use and accessibility.
With the mix of homegrown solutions and solutions that are managed by vendors that some associations have, being able to integrate various platforms is key. One association director of information technology told me, “At this point, having an open API and being able to integrate is a requirement for any software vendor getting into the association industry.” He’s absolutely right. Being able to unify different platforms an association is using, enabling members to use a single login for multiple sites and providing a seamless experience for members are things IT professionals care about. And software providers better enable that functionality if they want to be a competitive choice in the marketplace.Having an open API and being able to integrate is a requirement for any software vendor in the association industry”
Associations are realizing that having data in different places is not helpful to the operation of their organization. Not only does it make it difficult to use the data to make business decisions, it makes it hard to do data analyses of campaigns after the fact. One way some associations are avoiding this is by centralizing their data. “When I have data in 5 different places, it’s difficult to make sure that I’m really reaching the people I’m trying to reach,” said one database and business analysis manager I spoke to. Having true, real, clean data and making sure that it’s accurate and up to date keeps business processes moving for all departments. And a key aspect of achieving this is having your data centralized.
IT professionals are savvy. IT professionals are experts in their field. That’s why when they’re looking at a system as a candidate for implementation, they want a system they can get their hands into. And they can only do that if the system has a high level of documentation. This level of documentation, dubbed by some as “extreme documentation”, refers to having large amounts of written documents, owners manuals and user guides such that IT professionals can be given these material and can figure it out from there. The trend in IT is moving towards much more of this documentation, not less.
A software developer’s kit (SDK) is a set of programs used by a programmer to write applications. In the case of MemberSuite, for example, our SDK is a .NET 4.0 assembly that a programmer can include in their project, containing predefined types and helper methods that allow easy access to the Concierge API. IT professionals like having access to toolkits like this because it allows them to easily work with the system their association is using. These toolkits have been made available by software providers for some time now, and the availability of these resources will only increase in the future. Support for developers will continue to remain a key selling point for any respectable third party software.
The rapid pace of technological development coupled with changes in the demands of what members expect from their association experience have created an environment where top tier software providers are innovating quickly. Staying abreast of the trends in the association industry is important for all IT professionals. See anything else that should be called out? Feel free to share in the comments!