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AMS Fest Chicago 2018 - Recap

By Jason Stone

In June, AMS Fest wrapped up its technology conference in Chicago, Illinois, bringing together association executives, AMS consultants and vendors from across the country to participate in hands-on sessions, keynote presentations, platform previews and more. The Engage team was excited to take part in the event. As always, the event not only provided great networking opportunities, but also offered new insights into association trends and technology advances.

Big Data, AI and Analytics
Over the past several years, it seems as if every expert across every industry is talking about big data and artificial intelligence. Conference after conference, I noticed attendees leaving speaking sessions on big data and machine learning, still wondering, “But how do I apply this to my association?” This year’s AMS Fest speakers went beyond the typical “Big data is coming” approach, instead offering new insight into how all this data can be applied in relation to AI and analytics in the association space.

In essence, we can collect massive amounts of data, define it, and feed it to an AI system. Given enough data over time, the system will eventually reach a point where it can begin to read the data itself and identify patterns humans won’t catch. This technology has already found applications today in a myriad of industries, from healthcare and cybersecurity to retail and manufacturing—and it’s evolving fast. One speaker estimated that by 2020, AI will reach the brain power of an insect. From there it will rapidly reach the brain power of a mouse, then that of a dog, and then that of a single human. Finally, by 2100, it will match the collective brain power of all of humanity.         

With all this power at our fingertips, businesses not paying attention to its possibilities are going to miss the boat. Based on live polling at the event, some associations are already using a form of AI while a significant percentage is actively looking at using AI in the future. So how does all this data and AI apply to associations?

In an industry where member involvement is vital, AI can be used to look for insight into association member engagement. Fed enough membership data, AI can find patterns beyond what human analysts can see, and identify the driver for engagement. Knowing the variable, or variables, that differentiate an engaged member from a non-engaged member, or a donor from a non-contributor, associations are equipped to form better strategies for greater member involvement.

The challenge now becomes collecting enough data to make this pattern recognition possible.  It’s almost ironic that these developments in technology are coming at time where data collection is becoming increasingly restricted, particularly with regulations like GDPR. We’ll have to see how data collection, AI and analytics technology will evolve to coincide with these changes.   

Industry pain points
Each year during the conference, communication between association executives and technology vendors also reveal what changes associations want to see in their AMS solutions. This year, one frequently cited issue was a general decline in service that some organizations were seeing from their existing vendors. Association Management Software (AMS) is essential to seamlessly run any member-based organization, and these associations will move on to a new vendor if they are not receiving the support they need. 

This is why Engage believes that service is key. We are dedicated to offering a simple-to-use AMS, ample training time and strong support services. From content editing to membership dues and event registrations, Engage provides the support your association needs to fully leverage our AMS tools.

This year’s AMS Fest was full of great insights into current AMS trends and technology. At Engage, we’re excited to see how these innovations can help us empower our association clients to make informed decisions and better serve their members. We hope to see you at next year’s event!

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