Tech Conference takeaways
Anyone who participated ASAE & The Centerâ€™s Technology Conference knows that it wasnâ€™t just about technology. Yeah, we talked about AMS systems, storage area networks, routers, and the like, but the real buzz was around the web. Specifically around Web 2.0. Folks, this isnâ€™t just some passing fad. This ainâ€™t dotcom all over again! The very nature of how people â€œassociateâ€ is changing. I looked up the word associate and found:
1. To join in or form a league, union, or association.
2. To spend time socially; keep company.
3. To join as a partner, ally, or friend.
4. To connect or join together; combine.
5. To connect in the mind or imagination
In the opening general session we learned from Anthony Williams, author of Wikinomics, that in 2006, Blooger.com had more traffic than CNN.com and that MySpace.com has 250 million users â€œassociating.â€ In the preconference town hall meeting we surveyed the attendees (pdf). When asked â€œWhat is the most important technology issue facing your organization,â€ 20 percent of the respondents indicated web 2.0 technologies. This was second only to AMSs. When asked â€œWhich webâ€based apps do you useâ€ 17 percent of CEOs and 37 percent of senior staffs indicated they use blogs, and 17 percent of CEOs and 21 percent of senior staffs indicated they use wikis. As Mr. Williams asked, what are we doing to harness the power of mass collaboration? In the ensuing conversation about blogs and wikis from outside the association community, someone in the audience opined that this was a question of whether or not we focus on our tent or their tent. What if there is just one big tent? How do associations operate in this environment?
In the second general session, Erica Driver of Forrester Research spoke about the information worker and how providing context is critical. Increasingly that context is outside of our organizationsâ€”in wikis, blogs, newsfeeds, etc. What are we doing to create a work environment that provides the context our employees, and equally important, our members need? If our job is to give our members the tools they need to be productive in their jobs everyday (and I believe it is), when are our websites going to transform from glorified direct mail posters to collaborative work environments?
So here is what Iâ€™m thinking about. How can I expand my AMS to become an IMS, an idea management system? One that captures the richness found in nonstructured conversations that happen in nontraditional spaces. Now that would be â€œbusiness intelligence!â€ While I am accounting for dues and fees, how do I begin to â€œaccountâ€ for blog postings, wiki contributions, and other nontraditional ways members show engagement? And finally, while I need to be sure my organizationâ€™s infrastructure is sound, how do I build an â€œout-frastructureâ€ that ensures that my staff, and my members, have the tools they need to be productive information workers? Your thoughts?
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