Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What is Your UBER or Zillow?

Everyday technology is changing our lives.  It's changing how consumers live and purchase.  It's changing how companies do business and market their products.  For an association, technology can be an association's best friend, or its worst enemy.

Back in the day, it used to be, that only well funded companies had the resources to develop technology that could alter our economy.  Now it just takes a couple of passionate college students in a dorm, with programming skills behind an idea, to make things better or more convenient.

With technology being developed so fast, the question for associations is, "who is studying the marketplace, and who is spending time on your research and development, to ensure technology advancements don't rule out your association's relevance to your members?"

Case in point is UBER and Zillow.  Both of these apps have transformed their respective industries.  Both are causing the the taxi and real estate associations a lot of heart ache over their impact.  Both could have been discovered and developed by their associations.

Think about the value proposition for the taxi cab associations, had they developed UBER.  It would have been a dramatic increase in value for their membership.  Instead, they are spending their dues dollars in court fighting UBER rather than promoting it.  Zillow is causing the same type of heartache in the real estate industry, and is in direct competition with Realtor.com.

My question again to every association is...."What is Your Uber or Zillow?"

Private industry knows that associations make big dollars on training, benchmarking, and conferences.  They are working harder than ever to use technology to capture your members.  If you snooze at the wheel, innovations like Uber and Zillow will find their way into your industry, leaving you on the outside looking in.

It is critical for all associations to be looking with their eyes wide open, at the changing demographics, business climate, and purchasing trends in their industry, in order to identify the "Uber" opportunity in their industry.  Why you ask?  Think about the value proposition and non-dues revenue impact of Uber had it been discovered and launched by the taxi association.  It would have been huge.

Every association has a set of young people they are looking to empower and engage in their association.  This specific area is the perfect place to engage them.  Establish an R & D committee made up of your younger members, and empower them to discover how the association  can leverage their resources to discover your industry's "Uber".

Challenge them to discover how business will be done differently in the future...how companies will interact and operate...how consumers will purchase...and how information will be transferred, related to what is important to your industry.

Challenge them to develop the next wave of technology that could transform how your members get to do business and interact.  Remember, technology's biggest impact is when it enhances process, tears down obstacles, or increases revenue/profits.

If you sleep at the wheel, technology in itself will minimize your association's relevance over time.  But if you invest in R & D, and stay ahead of the curve for your member's benefit, you will gain loyalty from your members, and a revenue stream that will sustain your association's future.

Discover your Uber or Zillow today!