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digitalNow and Austin, Texas: Paving the way for digital transformation


Digital transformation is a key indicator for the future success of any organization. According to a recent study published by Anh Nguyen Phillips of the Deloitte Center for Integrated Research, there are three competencies that are necessary to facilitate organizational digital transformation:

1. Digital must be at the core of the business
2. The business environment must enable digital maturity
3. Leadership and Commitment to the cause

How can associations know if they are appropriately engaged in their own transformation? And how can they tell where they are in the process and what the next steps are?

The digitalNow summit for association leaders and Visit Austin, Texas are two trusted, progressive brands that are joining forces at the forefront to lead the way for associations. They are doing this both by their example and by the educational opportunities they are offering to association leaders.

The transformation of Austin

Forbes.com cites Austin as the #1 tech city in America, having created more tech-based jobs than any other American city – including San Francisco. Savill, a UK-based real estate conglomerate listed on the London Stock Exchange goes one step further, saying that Austin is the #1 tech city in the world.    

“Austin ranks as the world’s number one Tech City,” states Savill.  “IBM, Dell and AMD all have a long-established presence here, and today low taxes, favourable real estate costs and a strong entrepreneurial culture mean the Texan capital maintains a thriving and innovative start-up scene, with access to some of the world’s top talent.”

In fact, Austin’s lineup of major employers reads like a who’s who list of tech world masterminds and groundbreakers. The city is the full-time home to a rich mix of established industry leaders and startups, as well as the University of Texas at Austin – a top 100 public university with the groundbreaking Dell Medical School, which opened in June of 2016.

Austin knows transformation. The phenomenal growth they’ve seen doesn’t happen by chance, or in a vacuum. It is the result of a concerted effort to foster a culture of innovation, collaboration, and to welcome new technology for the opportunities it enables.

Capital Factory

When you want the innovators to gather around you, you have to give them a cool place to hang out. Austin’s Capital Factory provides a superior environment where start-ups, mentors, and customers converge to see what they can accomplish as a unified, collaborative community.

Capital Factory is a 55,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility that is home to hundreds of companies. It hosts 1000 events every year and tens of thousands of programmers and entrepreneurs gather each year for meet-ups, classes, and hackathons.

“There’s a big draw to Austin for big thinkers,” said Joshua Baer, Executive Director of Capital Factory. “Austin’s just a great place to live for anybody. That’s why it’s been one of the fastest growing cities for a while. It’s an attractive place for companies. They’ve got to be where the people want to be. Austin is attracting educated, motivated people and therefore has a great base of talent.”

When you get talented, creative people together working to address some of society’s most pressing needs, and place them into the right environment, amazing things happen. Transformation happens.

Exponential Growth at SXSW

It’s a template for growth and change that Austin has long been cultivating as the host city for the world-famous SXSW community which is now comprised of a conference, a series of film, interactive media, and music festivals, and arguably the most stimulating, exciting networking on the planet.

SXSW Film, Music, and Interactive events have grown every year since its inception, most recently bringing in over 51,000 registrants. That kind of growth is possible because Austin operates under a mission of continual learning and constant improvement.

Austin Convention Center “LEEDs” the way

The Austin Convention Center (ACC) is also in on the transformation game, having implemented initiatives that have achieved LEED® Gold certification. The facility employs a LEED AP (accredited professional) and Master Electricians, is an active Energy Star Partner with the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy, and networks with the International Facility Managers Association and International Association of Venue Managers to stay educated in sustainable practices.

The ACC energy upgrades have led to a 34% utility savings, and a comprehensive recycling and composting program has resulted in 50% of all waste generated being diverted from landfills.

From recycled carpet to LED lighting to green cleaning practices, the ACC has transformed itself into a state-of-the-art contributor – not only because it can now power both of its facilities with 100% renewable energy, but because it serves as a shining example to other facilities of what is possible.

The ACC is also a gigabit rated building that offers complimentary wireless Internet access, and continues to bring a new standard for high tech capabilities and services in the meeting facility business. They have upped the ante in the technical convention industry by installing a communication infrastructure capable of moving voice, video and data at 1 billion bits a second. The facility enjoys highly skilled and technically proficient in-house staff, which is complemented by a 24/7 network monitoring system.

In other words, when it comes to sustainability and technology upgrades, ACC put their money where their transformation mouth is.

The force behind it all

Just as Austin is home to the kind of places and events where people can come together to do great things, it is itself such a place. Austin has become a living, breathing example of the kind of culture that has fueled transformation across the board – in the arts, in infrastructure, in travel and tourism development, and of course in business.

Driving the charge, serving as the hub for all the initiatives and events for which Austin has become world-renowned, is Visit Austin, the organization that brings content providers, business leaders, cultural groups, and others together, facilitating collaboration and acting as connector and advocate. Visit Austin demonstrates the  collaborative spirit of the city, and the way Austin taps into local leaders to assist in bringing about transformation. Visit Austin exemplifies the role of facilitator, collaborator, promoter – welcoming visitors to the city and immersing them in the best of what Austin has to offer

Taking up the cause of digital transformation

That kind of forward-thinking creativity and progressive investment is why digitalNow is partnering with Visit Austin for their 2018 summit. Since its inception in 1999, digitalNow has been promoting the cause of America’s associations by modeling innovation, collaboration, and embracing the technology landscape not as a challenge or a problem, but as an opportunity.

“When email first became available as a mode of business communication, we were talking about that at digitalNow, teaching associations to take advantage of the efficiencies it offered,” said Hugh Lee, President of Fusion Productions, the producers of digitalNow. “And we’ve been there every step of the way with associations from dial-up to broadband to mobile, working with them to transform membership, revenue, advocacy, and educational models.”

Which brings us to today, and to a culture in which being digital isn’t even an option.

Richard Yep, Executive Director of the American Counseling Association, and a long-standing member of the digitalNow Advisory Group said, “There is really no ‘digital age’ anymore; it is part and parcel of everything we do. Being digital is the new normal.”

In part because of the investment of time, energy, and staff, associations have typically taken a responsive position to what was once known as the digital revolution. According to Lee, “The changes facilitated by technology are coming faster and are growing in scope; ‘keeping up’ isn’t a viable strategy. Associations must learn to take the leap and get out in front of the curve, fortifying their role in society and setting the trends instead of following them.”

Check out Richard Yep’s video here!

Taking the digital leap

The leap into digital transformation is facilitated first by creating a culture of innovation that embodies a willingness to be open and collaborative. Agility within the organization is also key, so associations need to learn how to outsource key competencies instead of trying to hire for each new development that comes along. And finally, associations and their leaders must learn to embrace new technologies as a proactive way to avoid disruption.

“If you’re driving the trends,” said Lee, “then you’re not the one caught by surprise; you’re setting the pace instead.”

What’s in it for associations?

There’s so much more to digital transformation than avoiding disruption, or keeping up with the association down the street. Lee says that digital transformation will enable association leaders  to discover new product and service paradigms, attract the younger generation into membership, and develop new vehicles for publishing, networking, advocacy, and education.

“Austin is the proof positive that what we’ve been talking about at least since the turn of the new millennium, that technology is only disruptive if we insist on doing what we’ve always done,” said Lee. “When embraced as the ‘new normal’ and as the method of reaching out to more people in more engaging ways, technology is a tool with limitless potential to help associations in their work of changing the world.”

That’s what digitalNow is all about.

digitalNow 2018: The KEY to digital transformation

World class speakers, technology innovators, and leaders from America’s most influential trade, professional, and not-for-profit associations are coming together to discover the keys to digital transformation:

  • Knowledge: Foremost experts in future trends and the phenomenon of digital transformation will be on hand to paint a picture of what the collective future will be like for associations.
  • Execution: Great ideas are only as valuable as our ability to execute on them. How will we accommodate this brave new world of pervasive computing?
  • You: The future isn’t about the next great technology.  It’s about leadership, culture, and governance, which means that ultimately, it’s about you.

“Austin is an integral part of the digitalNow 2018 environment,” said Lee. “The city itself becomes experiential learning. When you stand in the midst of that – when you tour Capital Factory or when you attend an event at the Austin Convention Center, or experience Austin’s nightlife, restaurants, and overall infrastructure, only then can you really begin to appreciate that digital transformation is an experience, a culture, a way of life – for cities, and for organizations.”

digitalNow 2018 is being held at the brand new Fairmont Austin on May 7 – 9, 2018 in the great city of Austin, Texas.

At digitalnow, association leaders will experience what can happen when they follow Austin’s lead – that it sparks transformation and growth across the board. It is the mission of digitalNow to create the kind of environment in which association leaders can get the tools, information, expertise, and inspiration they need to generate the next phase in the digital transformation of their organizations and the way they operate in our society.

Learn more at the official digitalNow 2018 web site: www.digitalnowconference.com/trends

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