December 16, 2017
    5 habits to being a digital leader, plus it’s not about technology

    TRENDS Attends: ASAE Technology Conference


    For Erik Qualman, it’s really quite simple: There are five habits that separate the leader from the “digital leader,” but how do you sell your CEO on social media, is it always about monetizing?

    Qualman, best-selling and Pulitzer-nominated author, also known as the “second-most likable speaker,” addressed these questions at the ASAE 2016 Technology Conference, this week at the Gaylord National in Oxon Hill, Md.

    The two-day conference drew 1,214 participants, down from 1,292 last year. This year there were 600 association professionals, including consultants, 428 exhibitors and 186 other, such as staff, ASAE partners and press.

    Qualman, a professor at Harvard & MIT’s edX labs, was the opening keynote speaker. The author of the Pulitzer-nominated Digital Leader & Socialnomics and his latest book, What Happens in Vegas Stays on YouTube, discussed five digital leadership habits: simplification, true, action, map and people or STAMP. He encouraged attendees to practice at least two of these habits a day. 

    For instance, simplify what you do in the office by taking things off your plate. Multitasking, Qualman says, actually makes you less efficient because the effect is equal to losing 15 points off of your IQ. For action, determine the two things you must get done in the day, then hyperfocus on them until they are done. Try to be as “flaw-some” as you can be, that is, don’t be afraid to fail because “evaluated failure” helps you to improve.

    Qualman also addressed how to convince a CEO of the value of social media when monetizing is not clearly evident. First he said to demonstrate that social media is not about technology, but a way to communicate in every facet of the internal structure, but in the longterm it is the external use that will benefit the association. It’s a way to make sharing easy, which will become more prevalent and needed in the future.

    One of the most popular and fun sessions this year was the Association Fail Fest, in which attendees shared their technology failures and the lessons learned. Consultant Ray van Hilst shared an experience in which he worked with an association staff member on redesigning an association’s website. The finished product was everything the staff lead wanted, and the site launched without a hitch. Soon after, the staff lead left the association, and then the real criticisms started to surface: they didn’t like this button, this function didn’t do what the old button did, they can’t find things, the important things needed to be “above the fold,” etc. Eventually van Hilst worked with the association to redesign the site again,of course, charging the association appropriately.

    The takeaway: “When you have a beautiful idea that doesn’t have a good lead, it gets to be a liability,” van Hilst said.

    In the session “The Evolving Digital Transformation,” the panel of Jennifer Syer, Technology Director, Virginia Society of CPAs; Julie Huebsch, Director, Buisness Systems, MOAA, Reggie Henry, CIO, ASAE; and Ron McGrath, CEO, High Road Solution discussed the need for associations to adopt a user-centric view toward technology, and the challenges that are commonly faced internally when pursuing that type of complete digital transformation. 

    “It’s not about the technology, it’s about the initiative,” was most certainly the main takeaway from this insightful and engaging session. 

    Current technology data points were examined, such as the fact that content marketing and automated email marketing are still weak in the association community. The key elements of a digital transformation were discussed, including culture, funding, processes, in-house skills, and analytics. It became clear to the audience just how complex it can be trying to move forward to a user-centric model. Suggested best practices included updating job descriptions to help staff accept changes, conducting more training for staff to use new technology, clearly defining the structure of teams, and involving the IT team in all budget and purchasing decisions. Associations need to move away from departmental silos in order to collaborate and share knowledge more efficiently. And as the panel speakers clearly noted – buying new software is not always the proper solution to a problem. We must always take a closer look at the processes involved first.

    In the session on “The Foresight of Advanced Analytics,” presented by Galina Kozachenko, Director, Strategic Data Analytics, Association for Financial Professionals, and Kelly Baker, Chief Analytics Officer, Association Analytics, a main theme of this session was the need to act on your data analytics to make decisions for the future. The data analytics field sometimes focuses heavily on past member actions, but it is important to also use advanced analytics to predict member actions for the future. 

    This session examined an in-depth case study of how the Association for Financial Professionals made the move over a nine-year time period to utilize advanced analytics and predictive modeling in order to determine membership renewal likelihood and improve membership retention efforts. The session provided excellent detail about the process for building one’s usage of analytics from the beginning, suggesting helpful tools and detailing the process and structure of predictive modeling. The speakers talked about the advanced analytics process from start to finish, highlighting the need to clean up one’s data first, and illustrated AFP’s tremendous success in improving their onboarding process, customer journey mapping, and extremely high member email open/click rates. Session attendees learned about activity-pattern analytics data and how it can be used to help members find relevant products, education opportunities, and valuable events. The value of advanced analytics in helping an organization to take effective action was clearly conveyed in this session.

    - Ed Dalere, Linnae O’Flahavan and Sharon Pare contributed to this article.

    Association TRENDS