“What data management/database issue are you being challenged with right now?”

For the past several years industry leader Wes Trochlil of Effective Database Management has posted the question “What data management/database issue are you being challenged with right now?” to association executives representing all types and sizes of associations. .

The results for the 2013 informal poll proved to be interesting in that no one issue rose to the top. Rather executives cited a myriad of concerns with their databases including poor technology, system change and data integrity.

Taking a closer look at some of the topics:

Poor Technology. No one is immune to having poor technology. Just ask the executives at Kodak. They failed to adapt to the times and after over 100 year in business were forced to close their doors. Associations that fail to upgrade their technology face the prospect of losing members, revenue, and may too face the same fate as Kodak. Certainly other factors can come into play but good technology can ensure systems and communications channels are in place that allow for the highest member engagement. People want to talk with an organization they way they want to talk to them – through email, chat rooms, social media, you name it.

Upgrading to new technology is not always feasible for an organization due to budget constraints. But take into consideration how much revenue you are losing as a result of not upgrading. How many members are dropping off? How many registrations to events are you missing out on with your current system?

Should finances just not allow for a system overhaul search the marketplace for a plug-ins that are compatible with what you currently have. Be sure to keep sight of the long-term plan and ensure that any data/information accumulated with the plug-in can be extracted and added to new system once in place.

Data Integrity. The old adage of “your list is only as good as the accuracy of the data” is so true. Keeping your data clean is a huge, never-ending, and time consuming undertaking.  Systems and procedures can be put in place to help ensure your data is always up to date.

a. Allow members to self-update: Phone numbers will change, offices may move, etc. Allowing members self-update will reduce the pressure on in-office staff and allow client to ensure they never miss information you send out.

b. Ask for data confirmation: With every registration or inquiry, have staff verify data with member or if there is an empty field ask for the new information. When implementing new initiative, double check that you have all of the correct data to move forward. If not, start asking for it.

Business Intelligence. Business Intelligence is the process that transforms raw data into meaningful and useful information for business  proposes. This information can handle large amounts of information to help identify and develop new opportunities for an organization. Making use of new opportunities and implementing an effective strategy can provide a competitive market advantage and long-term stability.

The data required to truly make an intelligent answer can be hard to collect and contain. Emails, memo’s, notes from calls, reports, etc all make up raw data. Without proper systems in place, harvesting the data can take multiple resources and still may not lead to an informed decision.

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