Stop and look around your office for the biggest change of the past few years. Do you see it there on the corner of your desk? You might not want to admit it, but technology is now the most important tool you use on a daily basis.
Technology is now part of every facet of your association and is part of every transaction and interaction between your association staff and membership. New memberships, events, email, association website content, organizing volunteers and even generating support for a new program. There it is… technology.
The big shift is that this realm is no longer reserved for the guys (and gals) in the server rooms. We are all technologists now. Every staffer must know how the technology works to make associations thrive and survive.
That’s why it is so important for association professionals to learn and master their association management software (AMS) which is the heart of your organization and integrates with all other systems. And there is no better place to become an “AMS Ninja” than your AMS’s users conference.
Mike Wiley and I (that's us in the photo) just returned from the Avectra Users and Developers Conference (AUDC) in Orlando, Florida and we were blown away by the amount of engagement, learning and innovation in this one conference.
Community: Engaged & Evolving
The Avectra community has always been close. When there are only a few people using your software, you count on the day-to-day users to show you the tricks to navigate and find workarounds. But the Avectra community has evolved into much more than that.
First is the fact that AUDC is no longer only for netFORUM Enterprise users. While users from the largest associations are still the majority (barely), AUDC had a growing presence of netFORUM Pro uses who typically represent smaller associations (less than 30 staff). As the Avectra customer base has grown, so has the community and it is wonderful to see it include so many netFORUM Pro users who face challenges as every other association staffer.
However, as an Avectra partner, the fastest growing segment of the community seems to be the ecosystem of Avectra partners.
Of course Vanguard Technology was there as an Avectra partner offering association website design and integrates with all Avectra products. But Avectra also lined up a robust group of partners offering a variety of solutions. Whether one was looking for web design, e-mail marketing, consulting services, business intelligence or any other technology enabled tool – you could find it all at AUDC.
Thanks to Avectra’s support and encouragement, these partners all integrate with netFORUM and extend your association’s business with an integrated, best-of-breed approach to association technology. It’s a model that works for web design partners like Vanguard and benefits associations needing flexibility and new solutions.
Education: Informative & Immediate
80 sessions. 8 subject matter tracks. 24 CAE credit worthy sessions. I’ve seen bigger conferences offer less. Every moment from keynote to hallway conversation was an opportunity to learn.
While I had the pleasure of presenting 5 Online Trends Reinventing Association Websites covering topics such as content marketing, search engine optimization and responsive web design, I also learned about managing your workload and project management. Mike dove into technical details of new xWeb AMS integrations, new eWeb enhancements and REST API integrations.
However, the key differentiator for AUDC is that almost every topic and tip offered immediate impact. I sit in many conference sessions and the subject matter focuses on “big picture thinking” that takes planning and months/years of consensus building to make happen.
These AUDC sessions offered hands on, “here’s how you do it tomorrow” type content. I spoke with people who learned new tricks they would use immediately and identified new trends to embrace right away. Everyone was willing to flip open the computer and show another attendee how to do something better and make a difference as soon as they got back to their offices. Regardless of whether it was a presenter, sponsor, staff member or attendee.
Innovation: Persistent and Pervasive
Jamie Notter is sick of the word “relevance.” And frankly, so am I. What associations need now is institutionalized innovation - in business models, services, content, and technology.
Mary Byers highlighted in her keynote how the “new normal” means more competition from other associations, media companies, for-profit vendors, and even an association’s own members. This environment requires us to think differently and ask different questions. We now exist in an environment where we are constantly innovating our services and how we run our business. AUDC was full of insight and examples.
From shaking up strategic planning to new concepts like social business as expressed by Jamie Notter, cultures and processes are changing and innovating. And the Avectra community is helping drive that innovation.
From Avectra’s new IdeaStarter for crowdsourcing association and non-profit projects to easy to use business intelligence tools to responsive web design, AUDC was chock-full of innovative, applicable ideas. It is clear that this is an eco-system not standing back and taking a “business as usual” approach to association software.
As an Avectra AMS integration partner offering association website design services, it was exciting to spend a few days among such a talented group of people. The Vanguard team left with new ideas and new connections. It was an opportunity to re-energize and imagine the possibilities for building interconnected association websites.
What challenges are you facing? How can technology help you innovate? Leave a comment below or get in touch and let’s keep this community, learning and innovation going.
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