An Associations Guide to Implementing a Digital Transformation Framework
Michelle Lelempsis | January 25, 2022 at 9:00 AM
Now is the time to look within your association to create the right framework and foundation for your continuous digital transformation. To put it simply, digital transformation is the efficient and effective use of your data, technologies, and online solutions to drive and deliver your member value proposition. Since early 2020, every industry, business, and not-for-profit has rapidly adopted new technologies and processes, to deliver new digital services to meet new demands in order to survive and flourish.
Digital transformation is here to stay and will be a continuous evolution
Associations have an exciting opportunity to lead their industries through this digital and rapid change, while also servicing the new needs of members. As an association leader, it is easy to lose sight of the future while trying to meet today’s demands.
If we paused to consider the future association, what does it look like? What will our members need and want tomorrow? How will your association prepare today for your future strategy?
To prepare, your association must establish a Digital Transformation Framework that will guide you today and into the future. Causeis has developed a simple Digital Transformation Framework that your association can immediately adopt and entrench into your association to guide your continuous digital transformation.
A continuous Digital Transformation Framework will provide your association with the foundation for structure, overarching goals and purpose, while identifying what will make up the elements of success. Causeis has provided digital transformation consulting and training to hundreds of associations globally. Through our work we have identified the commonalities that lead these organizations to their success and growth. With our knowledge and experience we’ve created a simple Digital Transformation Framework that you can immediately adopt.
This Digital Transformation Framework should be used to guide your new and existing digital projects. The Framework is made up of three-levels to enable your accelerated transformation: Goals and Purpose, Elements of Success and Technology.
Goals and Purpose
The Digital Transformation Framework starts off by identifying the Goals and Purpose, these are the overarching reasons for investing in Digital Transformation. These goals will enable your association to continuously improve the delivery of your mission while identifying new opportunities for growth.
Your Digital Transformation Goals and Purpose:
1. Deliver Digital Member Value Proposition
2. Create Digital Business Operations
3. Identify new Digital Revenue Streams
4. Establish Digital Sustainability and Growth
Digital Member Value Proposition
In order to start, it is important that associations identify their Digital Member Value (DMV) Proposition. What value are you offering your members through the digital space? You can identify what your DMV is by auditing what member benefits and services you offer across traditional, hybrid and digital platforms. This will allow your association to reflect on whether the member benefits and services are accessible to all members across different mediums. Your website is critical to the delivery of your DMV, look to find ways to continually showcase the extent of your digital and online services to both members and prospects.
Digital Business Operations
Creating Digital Business Operations allows your association to improve the existing processes through techniques such as automation, real-time reporting, or business process engineering. It is an important aspect to any business to continually review and improve every process across your entire association. A simple technique to assess the viability of a business process is to ask “Who, what, when, where”. Who does the process? What is the process for? When does it occur? And where does it go? This will allow you to gain insights to improve the efficiency of your business operations and move them to digital processes.
Digital Revenue Streams and Digital Sustainability and Growth
Ultimately, through your associations digital transformation you will be able to identify new Digital Revenue Streams which, in turn, will lead to Digital Sustainability and Growth. Access to new digital revenue streams is more common than you may realise. Associations are rapidly adopting new online services such as Job Boards, Gated Video Content, Content Library Subscriptions, Micro-Credentialing and more.
No association can simply adopt these new digital strategies and reap sustainable success. Through our consulting, we’ve witnessed some epic association failures and some incredible achievements. What differentiates the failure over the success? What are the commonalities that lead to successful digital transformation?
Elements of Success
Causeis has identified there are commonalities amongst associations that led to successful outcomes, and we have incorporated them into the Digital Transformation Framework as the Elements of Success. These Elements of Success are your associations guiding principles, the drivers of change, the intangible attributes that will enable your transformation.
Your Digital Transformation Elements of Success:
1. Culture of Innovation and Change
2. Data Centric and Data Driven
3. Investment in Cloud Technology
4. Digital Partner for Acceleration
Culture of Innovation and Change
The one factor that every think-tank and thought leader agrees on is that your organizations Culture of Innovation and Change is critical to the success of your digital transformation. How would you describe your associations current culture? Are you innovative and embracing change? Or are you traditional and not ready to make a plunge? For those associations that have innovation strategies or change management processes, are they able to pivot and implement rapidly as their culture is prepared and ready for embracing change.
Your association should consider how to improve its’ Culture of Innovation and Change with some of these ideas:
✓ Encourage change and new ideas from all layers of the association.
✓ Ensure that the member is at the center for all solution design.
✓ Innovate boldly and look beyond traditional association models.
✓ Review and consider the unsuccessful project as it can be your best change maker.
✓ Create time for change maker and innovator meetings with input from everyone.
Data Centric and Data Driven
Becoming an association that is Data Centric and Data Driven is pivotal to your success. Data is critical for an association to invest resources and time into, as data will provide you with insights, predictors and indicators of performance across your member engagement, services and business drivers. We continually recommend that an association start the journey to become data centric and data driven. This can easily be established and once your journey commences it will continue to evolve and grow.
✓ Continually assess, maintain and value your associations data quality.
✓Use metrics in your everyday dialogue to identify your impact, reach and progress. We encourage associations to start this by asking data centric questions, such as “How many ….?”, “What percentage …?”
✓ Create actionable real-time dashboards, reports and metrics to help your association measure performance.
✓ Use data to tell you a story about your member journeys and behavior.
✓ Establish and define real-time association performance metrics for churn, retention, engagement, new member and website utilization.
Real-time dashboards help you easily measure performance
Investment in Cloud Technology
Cloud Technology is no longer just the future, it is here today and proven to provide associations with increased security, reduced management costs, sustainable solutions and increased IT confidence. To drive your Digital Transformation, you must invest in your association’s knowledge, resources and solutions that are powered by cloud technology.
✓ Understand the value of Cloud technology for the future, security, and upgrade.
✓ Roadmap to Cloud solutions in place and actively working towards replacing custom applications with cloud friendly solutions.
Digital Partner for Acceleration
The last element of success, Causeis has identified, are associations that are investing in a trusted external Digital Partner for their Acceleration and Guidance. Your associations internal knowledge is limited by existing skills, technology and experience. Use a trusted Digital Partner as your guide and expert to accelerate your digital strategy and roadmap to cloud technology. iMIS provides an expert network of over 80 consulting partners through the global Authorized iMIS Partner Channel. A trusted digital partner should become your associations trusted advisor to provide your association with expert advice on solutions, technology and best practices.
Cloud Technology must underpin your Digital Transformation Framework.
To accelerate your association’s transformation for the long-term it must be guided using Cloud Technology. Associations are embracing the move to Cloud solutions, with the shift from old legacy on premise solutions to sustainable cloud applications. To pivot to true digital transformation your association must be guided by the adoption of cloud technology as the foundation of your entire Digital Transformation Framework. All future software, applications and digital solutions should be chosen based on being a cloud offering.
The future for associations is incredibly exciting, and those associations that lead with digital strategies and transformations will continue to flourish and remain competitive. Causeis continues to see many associations accelerate their digital transformation and your association should adopt this Framework to enable yours.
About the Author
Michelle Lelempsis, CiP, CiSE
Michelle has consulted and presented globally to 100s of associations to help them enable and accelerate their digital transformation and growth strategies.
Whether Michelle is consulting on member engagement scoring, data analytics, member experience or how to align your technology with your association strategy you’ll find her expertise, passion and enthusiasm for the industry contagious.
Michelle is the Founder and Managing Director of Causeis, which exists to support associations with their digital journey. Causeis was proudly named as the recent Global iMIS Partner of the Year and Client Satisfaction Leader of the Year by ASI.