This is a guest blog post by Mark Lowry, President and CRO of Association Analytics.

Now more than ever, association leaders are looking for ways to optimize their strategies and tactics to stay relevant with members. And with an increased reliance on digital platforms to interact with members, the role of data and analytics has never been more important for understanding member needs. As we look ahead to the future, there are several analytics projects that can easily be accomplished now that will help you build a better foundation for trusted and actionable data. This blog post will cover some of the top analytics projects that are top of mind right now for association business leaders and we will explain some of the key objectives for why your association should invest in data analytics.

Projects that lead to analytics success

Building a solid foundation for data analytics is a journey and requires your team to accomplish many small projects along the way. By taking measures now though, you can set your association up to be in a better position in the future when you need to quickly analyze data. While every organization will be at a different stage in their analytics journey, here are several key data projects you can consider implementing now:

Project #1: Analytics Strategy and Roadmap

The goal of an analytics strategy and roadmap project is to define the business case and desired vision for analytics. This type of project is meant to produce tangible recommendations on how to improve your data culture in four focus areas – People, Process, Technology, and Data.

The goal is to provide action items that your business can take in each of the focus areas to reach your desired state. With defined and measurable outcomes, your team can work towards implementing the recommendations and you can track your progress over time towards meeting these set goals.

Project #2: Data Governance

Having a data governance program is mission-critical in achieving an association’s desired data management goals. Data governance is a cross-functional management activity that, at its core, recognizes data as an enterprise asset which is used to achieve strategic and operational goals.

Associations looking to develop a data governance program will need to form a team, define the governance process, identify priorities, create a policy, and then develop a sustainable plan. Ultimately, a data governance project will improve the value and quality of your data, while reducing confusion and risk.

Project #3: Data Quality

Investing in an on-going data quality initiative will address the challenge of incorrect or incomplete data that makes it difficult to be successful with analytics. Manually addressing these issues can be a time-consuming process for your staff, which is why many associations prefer to outsource this project to help automate the data transformation and cleansing activities. The goal of a data quality project is to work towards creating complete, accurate, timely, consistent, and standardized data within your organization.

Main business objectives for using advanced analytics

If your organization is ready to take on some of the more advanced topics for data analysis, you may want to consider investing in a business intelligence (BI) platform that can help you accomplish many of these objectives. A business intelligence platform is designed to be a central repository for all data sources, with built-in visualization tools. Here are some of the primary objectives for associations when investing in BI:

Objective #1: Analyzing Unstructured Data

Research shows that up to 80% of business data is classified as unstructured, mostly in the form of text from things like an online community platform, social media, member surveys, and more.

To analyze this data, associations will need to leverage a BI platform to perform text analytics that can identify trends and member sentiment. By tapping into this unstructured data, associations gain insight into what members are saying and can use that knowledge to improve their products, services, or resources for members.

Objective #2: Leveraging Fast Data

As associations become more agile in the planning and execution of programs, BI platforms can enable the use of “fast data” to empower real-time decision making. By leveraging real-time insights, associations are changing how they communicate with members and starting to offer more timely content and resources by looking at what matters “in the moment” to members.

Objective #3: Using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

As associations look to personalize the content and messaging to their members, many are looking at artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to accomplish this goal. One practical application of the technology is to use AI to build a recommendation engine that seeks to predict what products a member will buy next, the content they would like to consume, or the people they might want to connect with. This type of recommendation engine can help associations personalize how they communicate to specific segments of their membership.

Objective #4: Predicting Member Behaviors

Associations are starting to leverage predictive models to determine what is likely to happen in the future, based on large volumes of historical data. Using predictive models, associations can determine a member’s propensity to purchase something or even their likelihood of churn. With this type of business intelligence, teams can focus their effort and respond accordingly to achieve their objectives of improving retention or growing revenue.

Objective #5: Using Big Data to Improve Personalization

Associations are starting to leverage big data to create better member segments that can be used to improve targeted marketing campaigns and personalization. By having data in a central repository, associations can create rich member segments that utilize data from across all marketing channels. This helps to improve marketing and advertising performance by enabling businesses to deliver relevant messages to the right audiences.

Creating a data-driven culture

The goal of analytics is to provide insights that lead to action. Ultimately, business leaders should want to use analytics to help identify new opportunities to grow revenue, optimize their spend, and improve the overall member experience.

By investing more in these initiatives, staff members will be empowered with greater insights and increased business intelligence to optimize results. When associations embrace this type of “data culture,” staff will be able to ask more questions of the data and will be able to identify ways to create additional value for members. This type of analytical mindset will continue to be an important asset in the future, as more association business leaders are called upon to find new ways to adapt their business models to stay relevant.

About Association Analytics

Association Analytics is an innovator in bringing data analytics to the association market. Leading organizations use our product, Acumen, to combine data from key source systems into a cloud-based platform, with intuitive and self-service visual analytics. Our mission is to inform your decision making by providing you with consistent, complete, and trusted data that leads to actionable business intelligence. By leveraging our product and services, associations are more successful with their current technology and data investments – lowering operational costs, driving revenue, and improving member engagement and experience.