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ASAE's Technology Conference and Exposition (#Tech17)

By Jason Stone

Lynn Campbell and I have just returned from our Engage AMS product launch at ASAE Tech. This is my second year attending the conference, and I must say I liked it better this time around. I attend the conference to meet with prospects and fellow vendors alike, but I found the thought leadership in presentations to be equally valuable (when I could sneak away from our booth to attend them).

The event opened on a fascinating presentation by a rocker turned rocket scientist (no seriously, this guy was on the NASA Mars Rover project). My walk away was that association technology is not rocket science, and if NASA can put something on Mars, surely, we can all get more from our technology here on earth.

The topic that had attendees abuzz was all of the mergers and consolidations happening in the association space (if you’re not up to speed on the slew of these, I encourage you to read TheNIRD.org, where Ben Martin is a font of knowledge on all of the transactions). On that subject, the overwhelming feedback we heard at the booth was that, despite assurances to the contrary, associations are concerned that changes in their software platforms means unwelcome changes for them as clients. The emotion of fear came up often in conversations on the expo floor.

The most popular themes seemed to center on data analytics, particularly where they aligned with artificial intelligence. Topics of cyber security, non-dues revenue, and usability also garnered strong attention.

One topic that seemed to pop up frequently that I found of interest (though I’m not yet sold on its value) was Alexa. I do believe in the impact of voice-based search (and I encourage our clients to keep this in mind when they create content), but I question whether Alexa and Google Home are going to be the tools that leverage this strategy best (as opposed to Siri and Cortana), because they’re tethered while cell phones go everywhere we go.

Though I was very disappointed to have missed it, the event ended on a celebration of failure (FailFest). Sadly, what happens at FailFest, stays at FailFest, so I have no specifics, only my own experience that failure is merely a stepping stone to success.

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