Looking into the future of associations
For the seventh consecutive year, Association Laboratory has completed its Looking Forward series, which captures sentiments from senior association executives for a variety of factors.
Association Laboratory says its series is the most comprehensive environmental scan of the association industry.
“Without understanding the future in which your members live and work, it is impossible to develop successful, sustainable long-term strategy,” wrote Dean West, founder and president of Association Laboratory, and Meg Whedbee, analyst, who are co-authors of the study. “Whether through strategic planning or value proposition design, our research confirms that associations must develop strategy based on an anticipated future industry or professional state if they want to be successful.”
The survey asked respondents to weigh in on the following factors:
- Economic Factors - identified as having substantial impact on the industry and professional structure of association members.
- Information and Technology Factors - identified as having substantial impact on the technology and communications underpinning industry and professional activity.
- Workforce Factors - identified as having substantial impact on the movement, use and competencies of individuals.
- Government Factors - identified as having substantial impact on the relationship between association members and local, state and federal governments.
- Global Factors - identified as having substantial impact on relationships between individuals, companies and governments across international boundaries.
For Looking Forward, Association Laboratory surveyed 52 business environmental factors, which gauged the top concerns of association leaders. The top three factors:
- Identifying, recruiting and retaining qualified staff
- Data analytics
- Changing laws and regulation
Information and technology concerns are of great concern, the survey found. Technology touches on nearly all operations of an organization, so it’s becoming increasingly important to develop a strong infrastructure to ensure the safe gathering of data.
The study also measured potential impacts that could affect association strategy. Eighty-six percent of those surveyed said member retention, acquisition and engagement is the most important concern. Coming in second: Customization of content for various distribution channels and specializing educational and credentialing materials.
“Although there is a clear emphasis within the business environment on technology, information and data management, the top environmental factor and the top strategy impact both have less to do with tools or structural issues, but with people - hiring the right staff and engaging members,” the report says. “Association Laboratory suspects that within an increasingly complex and competitive environment, connecting and communicating effectively with the right audience is more difficult and more critical.”
Association Laboratory will hold a webinar at 1 p.m. EST on June 6. Click here to register.
Participants who register will receive a copy of the report before the virtual workshop.