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September 23, 2020

Driving Association Strategy and Operations with Data and Analytics

In a recent study conducted in partnership with Association Analytics (A2), we dove into the question: How can associations increase their impact with data and analytics? What we found from the approximately 180 associations that participated were common challenges and misconceptions about data and analytics. We also uncovered tactics in the following areas that accelerate an association’s data journey.

A white puzzle piece icon in a blue circle with the text "Supporting Your Stratefy Through Data". A white bar chart with in a blue circle background with the text "Operationalizing Data and Analytics".A white chart in a blue circle with the text "Building Data-Driven Member and Customer Experiences".

Trends from COVID-19

How can data and analytics continue to help associations respond to the COVIID-19 crisis and adapt for the challenges and opportunities ahead? In addition to the themes highlighted above, we reviewed a few key crisis-specific trends:

Blue icon with the text "Refocus on growth by identifying declining products and services that do not support the mission".Blue icon with the text "The shift to virtual learning opens doors for new contacts and sustained engagement".Blue icon with the text "Dashboard usage s on the rise, serving as a tool to monitor performance, inform decision making, and support business sustainability".

Supporting your strategy through data

We know that aligning strategy and data is a major area of opportunity for associations. Lack of organizational data strategy was cited by survey respondents as their top data and analytics related challenge:

Responses from the question: “How accurately do the following statements describe your organization’s data culture today?” (N=186)

Purple box with white text "Data is a critical tool for measuring our organizational impact 56)".Red box with white text "Data helps our association anticipate and plan for the future (55%)".Blue box with white text "Data helps us more effectively serve our members and customers (52%).Black box with white text "Organizationally, we are committed to ensuring that data is a shared asset (across departments and teams) (49%)".

Operationalizing data and analytics

How can an association shift its culture, infrastructure and processes to ensure a more mature, enterprise-wide approach to data and analytics? It is clear that staff and leadership are aware of the importance of data, but they often struggle with challenges around execution and implementation.

Why? Because the transformation to a data-driven culture is not a technology initiative as much as it is a change management initiative. To begin to shift your organization’s data functions and processes, a few best practices should be considered.

Blue icon with white text "Shift the mindset - don't look at specific data points, reframe to ask what insights are needed".

Blue icon with white text "Align value and business - measure impact internally as well as externally".

Blue icon with white text "Empower staff at all levels - consider staff program leads and experts; have them help identify key metrics and build accountability for data".

Building Data-Driven Member and Customer Experiences

While the data and tools available to help associations strengthen their most valuable commodity – their member and customer experiences – are extensive, they are often underutilized. As technology becomes more accessible and data takes new shape, consider the following:

Red circle icon with text "Define technology goals and align them with strategy".Blue circle icon with text "Set realistic expectations".Dark purple circle icon with text "Manage staffing".

Light purple circle icon with text "Collect practical data".Black circle icon with text "Don't rush the process".Light blue circle icon with text "Demonsrate the return on investment".

As the association community adapts to new challenges, enterprise-wide data and analytics will be crucial in helping organizations make more informed decisions. To understand how your organization compares, access more trends and case studies, and gain a preview of what lies ahead, download the full report.

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Tag(s): Market Research

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