Getting good information is more than about static numbers that tell you what is happening in your association. Association leaders that are really focused on growth will tell you that the ultimate goal of data is to allow you to improve business outcomes. That means that information you collect now should help you do both in the present AND the future.
A recent 2021 data management survey of organizational leaders from Experian showed that:
So we all know that data is important. But without understanding the context behind what you need from data and why, odds are that you or someone in your association leadership team is making decisions based on information that isn't helping you to move towards your goals. And there's no guarantee that even with the right data they are making decisions that are helping your association membership.
In order to make data work in your favor, you need to understand the context behind your data and have a plan for how that information will help you make decisions.
People think that good data is a silver bullet for good decision-making. In reality, data is only useful if it helps you do something new, quicker, or better.
How then can you transform data into useful information? What is required to turn the digital information your association is collecting into a business asset?
To make data an asset, you need good data execution. There are 4 main ingredients to good data execution:
Without these four ingredients, data will provide limited returns on investment, which is something we hear association leaders complain about day in and day out.
The truth is, most organizations are underinvested in collecting the right data and empowering their people and processes to use it effectively for quick, powerful decision-making.
Good data execution is more than a nifty dashboard.
A cool dashboard may make you feel like you’re in a movie; there’s lots of shiny, blinking lights and sparkles, but it’s worthless if the information is not actionable.
What matters is:
In other words, what are the questions and challenges your organization is trying to answer using data? And is your data fit for these needs?
The first step is to make a list of things you want to know about your data department by department. For example, you may want your data to answer things like:
Your different departments have diverse data demands and may need to use data in ways they can’t clearly pinpoint right off the bat. Meeting these challenges requires some brainstorming and team discussions to identify departmental data needs, limitations, and priorities.
Establishing your data needs requires us to start with the end user in mind and then use data to fill in the steps. Think of it as design thinking for your information.
Good questions to ask:
For example, you know that your members want to improve their skill level through your association. So, one big question you need your data to answer is which of your members have actually leveled up at their job or in their profession during their membership. Then, look at your data to see which members have improved over the last three years. Which have increased their earning potential, gotten raises, received recognitions or certifications, or advanced in their career path in some way? This analysis will help you see correlations—through data like members’ activity levels, CE courses attended, books they’ve purchased, etc.
Once you've done all that leg work, you'll be able to design an action path for members who are on a similar trajectory. Instead of making decisions about courses, events, and membership fees based on static data, you are actually designing a pathway for growth for your members that will lead to higher engagement and more value for them personally.
Making good decisions and executing on data effectively requires us to keep our data human-centered (member-oriented) and aligned with our business objectives. To do so, we need to ensure our people are capable of balancing judgment and analysis, effectively taking the data we have and making decisions that are pointed towards action that leads to increased personal value to the members. It's also vital to have the right processes in place to keep pace with the information we collect and the shared goals we’re trying to achieve as an organization.
Learn more about data execution and how to best use your data to drive good decision-making in our recorded webinar, Is My Data Good Enough?