Big data may be one of this year’s buzz phrases, but behind the trendy terminology lies a very real issue: few associations are managing their data as effectively as they could, and as a result they’re not getting value from it.
Most associations have built up a mass of data on members and their activities, markets and trends over years, and hold it in a combination of separate databases and unstructured documents like Excel spreadsheets.
At MemberDigital we recommend a four-step process to help associations get control of their big data, understand it and make use of it.
- Invest in a well-built database which pulls together information from different sources. The clear, single, searchable view of member engagement this provides will help you provide the services members really want, and target them more accurately based on past behaviours.
- Connect the database to a well-designed front-end presence. Your website should be geared up to gather data, follow best-practice principles of design and usability, and clearly signpost where services can be found.
- Unlock the information you hold on markets, issues and trends. Make white papers, research, reports and articles readily visible and searchable, unlocking their value and turning your website into a ‘knowledge hub’ for members.
- Connect your payment system to the platform. This will improve cashflow by enabling you to manage and track payments simply and efficiently online, and get an instant picture of who’s paid for which services and products.
The amount of data flowing through associations won’t get any smaller: the volume of digital information in the world will expand 50-fold between 2010 and 2020 according to IDC’s 2013 Digital Universe Study. Associations that take control of theirs will engage and retain more members, and secure their long-term relevance.
Article published first in the TAF Forum Newsletter