How soon our IT systems will work to discover amazing insights from our data and take routine tasks off our hands will crash up against the present reality of our human processes and the quality of our existing data.
Tech hype features forecasts like personalized AI providing a customized interface serving our customers and members’ needs coupled with machine learning and predictive analytics that ferret out patterns we humans can’t spot. These forecasts promise we will be able to work smarter as our machines work for us. We can scale up our customer service operations to deliver immediate satisfaction and exploit wants even our customers haven’t anticipated or wouldn’t pursue without our friendly AI suggesting they might be interested. Sounds very, very good.
These forecasts are plausible, even very likely, yet most associations will find they are stuck between this tech hype and their current reality while their members demand service like leading technology-enabled companies can offer.
I’m seeing this conundrum as Signature I and the Foresight Alliance scan trends and issues shaping the future for associations while at the same time working with several clients planning how to overcome their current technology constraints.
In the real world, critical databases for key business functions that should be integrated are separate, making it difficult to answer essential business questions. Associations are dealing with the cumulative impact of years of “working around” their software platforms to the point they have mucked up their performance.
For at least three decades, associations have been running a marathon to keep up with the potential that new IT and communications software offer. This marathon will continue as they figure out what technologies to deploy to capitalize on the power of data analytics and personalized AI. Strategic plans will continue to point to the need for tech planning and investment. The technology adoption curve will remain steep and association leaders will have to figure out when is the right time to invest time and money into another arduous climb.
It’s not the emergence of technological capabilities that drive associations to this hard work; it’s often member expectations that push them to prioritize yet another tech initiative. No association leader wants to stay stuck between what members believe should be possible and their current operational reality.