5 Tech Trends for Associations in 2022

The post-pandemic pace of change continues to accelerate as the economy rapidly becomes more digital. Remaining resilient in 2022 means fulfilling the demands of the new workplace (hybrid), workforce (untethered), and membership (new patterns of engagement).

These evolving paradigms have shifted the role of association leadership. In order to create value in the tech-savvy digital economy, forward-looking leaders are prioritizing an information technology (IT) agenda this year.

This IT agenda revolves around five key capabilities: innovation, human resource management, data governance, security strategy, and business process automation. Building maturity in these areas will help you support a hybrid workforce, streamline back-office processes, and develop new revenue sources.

Let’s walk through each of these 2022 technology trends for associations.

IT Trend #1 - Innovation is Digital Transformation

Innovation is core to an association's digital transformation.

In order to deliver value and differentiate from competitors, all innovation should be digital transformation going forward. In other words, innovative value creation is now based on a digital model.

Focus on these innovation initiatives in 2022:

  • Balancing vision with execution and linking every project to organizational strategy (i.e. strategic execution).
  • Developing new ways to collaborate with widely dispersed teams.
  • Finally getting control of our data governance plans for improved efficiency, scalability, and data trust experimentation.
  • Creating actionable plans to leverage emerging technologies such as APIs, blockchain, AI, and the Internet of Things.

IT Trend #2 - Smarter HR Management

The workforce today is smarter and more diverse than ever before. Keeping up with the exponential pace of change depends on our ability to hire, train, and retain top talent.

In 2022, associations must embrace an untethered, hybrid workforce model that includes full-time employees, contractors, part-timers, gig workers, and volunteers.

This new model requires a different way of thinking about human resources management (HRM). Here are some key considerations to help HR manage applicants and retain top talent more effectively.

  • Developing an agile talent acquisition strategy.
  • Creating a more flexible benefits package.
  • Implementing training and development programs that are adaptive to the needs of a changing workforce (aka focusing on untethered strategy).
  • Using technology to expand the definition of the workplace.

The magnitude of transformation needed in the digital age requires association leaders to advance technology roadmaps to better engage talented candidates and employees. To compete effectively in 2022, association leaders must:

  • Implement policies for 'return to work' that allow for a flexible workforce including remote and hybrid arrangements.
  • Streamline HR processes through automation wherever possible including onboarding/offboarding, performance reviews, and payroll processing.
  • Use technology to identify skills gaps and develop targeted training curriculums for employees aligned with business goals.

IT Trend #3 - Better Data Processes for Better Decisions

Accumulating more data doesn’t naturally lead to better decisions. While it’s true that research should be statistically valid, 'data hoarding' cannot be the basis for decision analytics. Instead, focus on:

  • Understanding how to use data analytics and artificial intelligence to glean deep insights for better decision-making and digital experience optimization.
  • Adapting to shifting informational needs to generate the real-time data insights you need to future-proof your organization.

But before you tackle anything, you first need to dial your governance framework.

Developing a robust data governance framework that can accommodate not just more data, but higher quality data is critical in the post-pandemic economy. Your governance capability needs the flexibility, scalability, and adequate guidance necessary to adapt to the evolving technological, business, and regulatory landscape.

Making better decisions with better data in 2022 also means building infrastructure to house all of your data, ensuring high accessibility. The goal standard today is a unified dashboard with real-time analytics.

IT Trend #4 - Cybersecurity to Stay Ahead of the Bad Guys

Just last week we compiled a list of security best practices and trends in 2022. In light of more elaborate and frequent cyberattacks, we’re adding security strategy here as well because no comprehensive list of tech trends is complete without it.

Oftentimes, people think cybersecurity is as simple as investing in advanced firewalls and other security measures. But this is hardly the reality today.

Hackers are using evermore sophisticated scams to trick employees into giving up their information or downloading malware onto their computers. So what can associations do to protect themselves in 2022?

Focus on implementing the following practices in your security strategy:

  • Security awareness training for all staff and volunteers.
  • Two-factor (2FA) and multi-factor authentication (MFA) for all applications.
  • Extra encryptions on all sensitive data.
  • Establishing a Security Incident Response team.
  • Getting serious about protecting the data typically stored in SaaS.
  • Applications controlled by our external partners and vendors.

IT Trend #5 - Automate and Integrate Business Processes

Staying current with the ever-changing landscape of business means automating and integrating as many business processes as possible. Using technology to your advantage can make automation easy and improve overall ROI.

Some benefits of business process automation and integration include:

  • Reduced costs
  • Faster execution of tasks
  • Improved accuracy
  • Easier collaboration between team members

In 2022, associations should consider automating the following processes:

  • Financial management, including accounts payable and receivable.
  • Member management including registration, renewals, and tracking of engagement data.
  • Communications management including email marketing, social media scheduling and reporting, and website content management.

As we move further into 2022, keep an eye on emerging technology trends impacting the way associations operate.

One key trend to watch is the evolution of integrations between our best-of-breed systems. Better software integrations rely on the expanded use of APIs and Integration-as-a-Service (IAAS) solutions.

Partnering with association technology providers will become more critical in 2022. It’s time to demand that our applications work better together, be fully cloud-based, and support our hybrid workplace.

Association leaders should be prepared to provide feedback to vendors via user communities and conferences, help define requirements for integrations between best-of-breed systems, and take responsibility for win-win outcomes.

Content Intelligence (CI) is also on the rise in today's data-and content-driven world – and for good reason. The AI-driven technology powers a self-sustaining content engine that automates the data-to-insights journey and delivers real-time 'ultra-personalization' at scale and precision.

Be sure to monitor how new Content Intelligence software and solutions are incorporated into the digital toolkit. Track continuous improvements in CI's user-controlled advertising and personalization as well as the impact of these features on an organization's ability to build a culture of privacy and digital trust.

Summary: 2022 will be Digital, Diverse, and Untethered

Technology will play an even more critical role in the success of associations in the year ahead. By embracing new trends such as big data analytics, cyber security, and a flexible workforce model, you can ensure your organization is poised for continued growth and success.

Adopting new styles of leadership and embracing new definitions of workplace and workforce should be on the agenda for every association leader in 2022.

In the words of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, "Every company is now a [technology] company..." It’s (finally) time for associations and nonprofits to fully embrace this reality, and to develop the core technology competencies that drive continuous innovation and define success in the digital future.

Here are two steps you can take now to get started:

  1. Take a few minutes to assess your current IT Maturity and Governance and get an itemized action plan to mature your organization’s capabilities.
  2. Download the full report and analysis from our 2022 Tech Trends Report to inform your digital strategic plan.

Or, simply reach out to our Association IT experts for help defining the digital future of your association.

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