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Don’t dread the data

The ASAE Foundation recently launched its new program, “ForesightWorks,” which is designed to help members navigate the changing association landscape.

The first set of Action Briefs is complimentary for a short time to ASAE members, and cover three topics.

First, Aging World analyzes how older workers and their exodus from the workforce will affect companies. Anticipatory Intelligence discusses how analytics and artificial intelligence could change the way we work. And Virtualized Meetings looks at how virtual technology could shape the future of meetings.

Let’s take the topic of Anticipatory Intelligence (something about which I’m much less knowledgeable.)

We live in a world of data. Big data and analytics are becoming increasingly important as organizations strive to define their success and develop strategic plans. Data can help associations determine their ROI, which in turn can assist program educators in deciding which topics could generate the most revenue. At the same time, data mining can help membership directors establish opportunities for growth.

So what does ASAE predict?

  • Organizations will employ machine learning (which occurs without explicit programming) and predictive analytics to predict demand, optimize pricing and adjust sales and marketing campaigns. They will use sensor data to anticipate maintenance requirements of physical assets and patient data streams to improve healthcare. Other applications will include banking, threat analysis and security and agriculture.
  • Prescriptive analytics, which anticipate the effects of future decisions, will be adopted by a growing number of companies and organizations.
  • For individuals, an online digital assistant available on any connected device will know as much about you and your friends as you do and will make individualized anticipatory recommendations and even decisions.

Of course, with such technologies come concerns, such as security and privacy. And staff may worry machines will undermine their decision-making abilities. Of course, should the aforementioned happen, can associations keep up the pace? Do they have the proper (and enough) resources?

A couple specific points worth addressing:

While AI is admittedly a bit scary, machine technology and analytic systems can help identify trends – which can ultimately help organizations capitalize on learning interests and consumer behaviors. As a result, an association’s bottom line could improve and it could retain – and attract – members.

Secondly, marketing is nothing without data. If marketers don’t understand their audience, efforts are useless. Big data can help marketers identify target groups. Along these lines, social media platforms offer effective analytics that can help organizations market to specific demographics.

While we certainly don’t want machines and technology to take over our jobs, it’s safe to say we can learn from them.

So what should associations do? From the brief:

  • Inventory and improve the current integrity of your data and management processes.
  • Acquire data analytics proficiency.
  • Use data to inform your strategy and business decisions.
  • Clarify privacy and data management policies and practices.

What are your thoughts? How do you feel about analytics and big data? If you’ve got some tips, I’d love for you to write a guest blog post. Please reach out to me at

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