How Much Data Do You Have On Data?

16th February 2022

This is the world of information. It is an undisputed power that connects loose knowledge and creates progress. In 2022 information is in the form of data, the pillar behind every association. What happens, though, when the association grows and data on membership and content increases to the point of being disorganized and losing its value? The European Society of Association Executives (ESAE) put together a knowledge session exactly to throw light on the issue.

Words Vicky Koffa

On Thursday 10 February, participants followed for an hour and a half the webinar under the topic “Association Data Management: The Backbone of Member Success”. Carlos Olabe, CEO of European Investment Caster’s Federation, kicked off the event introducing the two speakers and their presentations. The main event was then followed by the separation of attendees into breakout rooms, allowing them the chance to engage in conversations about their own experiences.

After giving the definition of association, Olena Lima, Founder and Marketing Consultant of Member Boat, explained that the objective is to have one unique data repository based on specialized solution tools with features of scalability, compliance, security and back up. There are three ways associations choose to store the wealth of their data: the popular traditional way, meaning the ‘all-in-one association management software’ model, which is not necessarily the best one in all cases. The ‘specialized integrations’ model can offer further organization of your data by creating different sub-spaces under the same umbrella. Finally, the ‘tailored multi-purpose ecosystem’ uses the existing tools and adapts them to the exact needs of your association. Lima highlights that criteria such as cost, support, functionality, and security need to be taken into account when selecting your new software. 

When James Roberts, Enterprise Sales Director at Community Brands, took over, he clarified that technology requirements of associations are unique since they use it to streamline administrative processes and better drive member recruitment, retention, and revenue. His advice is that no member or staff is too old, too busy, or too remote for technology; associations need to gather all the information they have and take the time to sort through all the available tools/vendors out there to find the one that suits each one the most.

A useful idea suggested was to ask your current software vendor for reports and statistics of the visitors; the quality and speed of the information you get can lead to useful data for the right software selection. Roberts also insisted that cost does not equate to quality, so choose with your true needs in mind, even if this leads to changes in management.

The two presentations triggered interesting dialogues and debates among participants and speakers during the breakout session and in the final talks at the end of the event. Main takeaways were that members should be involved in the software selection and that a competent IT department is necessary. After initial selection, the software should be reviewed every year since needs change; the same goes for the stored data since not everything is useful as the association evolves.

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