Current Affairs

Some Learnings from GIAF 2024

28th March 2024

The Geneva International Association Forum (GIAF) 2024 has once again proven to be a focal point for discussions and learning within the association community. Held at the Hilton Geneva earlier this week, the forum gathered around 50 highly engaged participants from various sectors and confirmed its status as a premier platform for knowledge sharing and networking, fostering a collaborative environment for all attendees​.

Words Remi Deve

GIAF 2024 marked its fourth iteration in 2024, continuing its trajectory of growth since its inception in 2020. This edition saw a notable change in format, with all participants sharing the same space throughout the event. This adjustment eliminated parallel sessions, thereby removing any possibility of attendees experiencing the ‘fear of missing out.’

From the sessions held earlier this week., three key learnings stood out:

Strategic Planning: The importance of strategic planning for associations was a central theme. Tracy Bury, Founder & CEO of Operandi and former Deputy CEO of World Physiotherapy highlighted the need for organisations to be agile, adaptable, and forward-thinking in their strategic approaches. The consensus was that in a rapidly changing world, the ability to anticipate and respond to future challenges is crucial for sustaining growth and impact.

“In the evolving landscape of global challenges and opportunities, strategic planning is highly important for associations. It’s not just about navigating the present but charting a path for the future. As we look ahead, the agility to adapt, the vision to foresee changes, and the wisdom to make informed decisions become the pillars of sustainability and growth for any organisation. The aim should be to transform strategic planning from a periodic exercise into a continuous mindset,” Bury said.

Cybersecurity: A significant emphasis was placed on cybersecurity, recognising it as a critical pillar for protecting organizational assets and information in the digital age. Francesca Bosco, Chief Strategy and Partnerships Officer at the CyberPeace Institute, shared insights into the latest threats and trends, stressing the importance of building robust security frameworks. The discussions underscored that with the increasing sophistication of cyber threats, staying informed and prepared is more important than ever.

Bosco urged, “Consider your organisation as a treasure, a treasure of data.” She pointed out the high stakes involved, with cybercriminals targeting such valuable assets. To counter this threat, she advised, “In the end, you have to think like them and always envisage the worst-case scenario, what can possibly go wrong. This way you can be prepared for the worst and act accordingly.”

Data Management: The forum also delved into the intricacies of data management, acknowledging its role in driving decision-making and strategic insights. “Associations encounter significant hurdles in streamlining their data management,” Thibaut de Vylder, CEO of dFakto, observed. He highlighted, “The constant influx of data requires robust governance to standardize processes.” The discussion also brought to light the need for finding the right balance between making data accessible yet secure, adapting to changing regulations, and meeting the demands of stakeholders. Emphasising the need for innovation, the adoption of cutting-edge technologies and the development of a culture centered around data were identified as essential for associations to effectively overcome these challenges.

These insights from GIAF 2024 not only reflect the current priorities and challenges faced by associations worldwide but also serve as a call to action for leaders to innovate, secure, and strategise for the future. The Forum, with its engaging discussions and collaborative atmosphere, provided a unique opportunity for learning and growth – which ultimately what ASSOCIATIONWORLD, the foundation behind all the ‘IAFs’, is all about.

Hit enter to search or ESC to close