How to Analyse Data in the Meetings Industry?

Tips for Associations to manage and harness their Data from the World PCO Alliance
17th Feb, 2022

When it comes to the to-do list of many associations, technology is often a last priority. This is mainly due to a lack of economic and human resources, but also due to a lack of knowledge about the latest trends regarding technology in administration procedures. The result is weaker processes and efficiency. Data, in particular, can provide an association with so many powerful insights into its membership, its sponsorship strategy, and much more. But data is only useful if the association is able to analyse and leverage that data. So, where to begin?

The World PCO Alliance offers the following tips and advice to help any association take the first steps in collecting, managing and harnessing data:

  1. Perform an initial assessment: what is the overall need for the association in terms of data, and what are the objectives?
  2. Consult an expert: data management is an enormous task, and one that is best left to the experts. An AMC (Association Management Company) or a PCO (Professional Conference Organiser) will often have the technological resources and expertise in-house. One can also reach out to consultants. The bottom line? Do not attempt a do-it-yourself approach for data management.
  3. Ensuring an efficient monitoring of the association website: This is an essential first step, enabling the association an in-depth website analysis that allows them to learn what is of most importance or interest to members/visitors.
  4. Pick a data management system: With the help of experts, select the right data management tool that is right for your association.
  5. Don’t overdo it: Rather than taking on the task of collecting all possible data, it is better to be selective.
  6. Manage the data: Data needs to be collected and maintained on a regular basis, to ensure that it is current and relevant.
  7. Advise your members: Your members need to be advised that data is being collected on them, they need to know which data is being collected and how this data will be used. As long as members know that the collected data will create a positive impact for them, they will be willing to provide it.
  8. Be safe! Remember security is a key issue and no one wants to get surprised with a data breach.

Data collection and management offers numerous benefits for the association as well as its members.

The bottom line? Do not attempt a do-it-yourself approach for data management.

Short-term benefits include:

  • Increased staff motivation with the digitalisation of their daily work;
  • Improved internal accounting and administration processes;
  • Increased transparency and control within the association;
  • Enhanced value of the association’s image and brand ;
  • In the case of federations, increased collaboration and communication among the national members regarding data collection.

Long-term benefits include:

  • Added value for both members and sponsors. This strategy contributes to the financial and economic health of an association, in the mid/long term; 
  • Ability to drive informed decisions and improve outreach;
  • Ability to offer better designed services and products that members want, and the effective delivery of these services and products;
  • Ability to monitor and manage data from any device, in cases of remote work or business travel;
  • Increased event participation, given that the association’s up-to-date database means that no contact name will be missed;
  • Reduced time spent in data management, as the workflow will be more efficient and streamlined;
  • Improving the time-consuming auditing processes related to data privacy laws, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU;
  • Improved reporting: data automatization will allow associations to issue up-to-date reports and statistics, getting internal analysis that will lead to strategic decisions. 

Needless to say, effective data collection and management can allow an association to gain greater insight into their processes and how effectively they are reaching members. It is not an endeavour that can be done alone, but with the right experts at your side, your association can be well on its way to reaping the benefits of data—and enhancing value for your staff, partners and members.

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