Thoughts on technology and innovation
Todd Farrar, Consulting Manager
The general theme at the recent ASAE Technology Conference was the impact of technology disruption and how associations can be successful in the face of a highly innovative technology environment.
Identify Your Association’s Toaster
We all want our technology to be The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread. Before we can do this, however, we need identify the toasters that currently exist. What do I mean by this? The electric toaster has been around since the early 1900’s, however it wasn’t until the mid 1930’s that sales of electric toasters skyrocketed. Why? By the early 1930’s the bread producing industry was experiencing a tidal wave of disruptive innovation attributed to the commercialization of the industrial bread slicer. Wonder Bread helped to coin “The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread” as the white fluffy pre-sliced bread made its way into homes around the country. Having uniform sliced bread at home also generated a dramatic increase in the demand for the electric toaster.
Disruptive innovation is a wave
As aptly noted by Tom Hood during the CEO’s and Leading in a Technology Disruptive Environment session, disruptive innovation is a wave. Like a wave, disruption in a market, industry, or with technology is going to happen. It may change in frequency or in magnitude but we can count on the fact that it is going to occur.
The electric toaster existed before the bread slicer. The technology was there, the intellectual property was there, and those who were aware of the technology were empowered and prepared to ride the disruptive wave of innovation created by the commercialization of the bread slicer. Associations need to understand what existing technologies and platforms are available and evaluate which of them are best positioned to make the most from new technological breakthroughs or innovative disruptions.
Get Prepared Today - Establish a Plan
To be prepared for the next disruptive wave, associations need to assess their business model, existing processes, as well as the current technology landscape on an on-going basis. Per the Tuesday session at ASAE Tech - Is the AMS is DEAD? (Related: Is your AMS a Dead Horse? Stop Riding it!) , there was a general consensus amongst the panelists that an association’s business model should be the primary driver for the processes implemented and the various systems and tools that are employed.
We should be asking ourselves …
These gaps are where planning starts to takes shape. We need to plan to address those gaps both from a fundamental change in operation but also from the enablement of technology. What new technologies or systems are needed? When are they needed? How will they interact with existing systems?
We need to constantly be looking for and assessing “toasters”
Consultants, constituents, industry peers and vendors should be leveraged to gain a fundamental understanding of the features, advantages and benefits of each of the various systems and technologies being evaluated.
The Planning Process Needs To Be Iterative
Planning is not a static activity. To keep pace with innovation, we need to constantly circle back to evaluate the alignment of processes and the adoption of new tools with the overall objective of the established business model. It may be that a process needs to change to make the most out of the advantages a given system provides. Vice versa - a new system may need to be adapted to best align with current operations.
Every Association is Different
Every association is different. There is no one-size fits all solution when it comes to planning on how to leverage the capabilities enabled by disruptive innovations. A large association may emphasize an AMS as the centerpiece for their technology ecosystem where as a smaller niche focused association may leverage and integrate several different tools as a way to flexibly and affordably execute on their business model.
Get Slicing - Start 2016 with a Plan!
2016 is here and there is no better time to get a plan in place to be armed and ready to ride the next wave of disruptive innovation. Ideally the best of breed plans will be fueled by the business model and will marry internal process changes with an understanding of the latest technological advances.
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