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#TechForGood: How Today’s Association Employees Can Adapt to the Modern Workplace

#TechForGood: How Today’s Association Employees Can Adapt to the Modern Workplace

Technology is changing the workplace

Technology is changing the workplace. The most effective organizations are ones that have successfully adapted to a world made more connected, streamlined, and accessible than ever. The most up-to-date organizations collaborate with employees and resources from around the world in real time, seamlessly engage in meetings online, and file paperwork without needing a single manila envelope. Workspace productivity tools such as Slack, Trello, and Airtable are transforming the way people cooperate, and more advanced use of tech such as AI and blockchain is disrupting the status quo of work.

While there are plenty of voices out there that are concerned of the amount of data we are willing to put out there on the public sphere, it’s not quite a bad thing if we consider the amount of opportunities that it brings to those who can effectively balance the risk. It’s always going to be a give and take situation, and at this current point in time, the take appears to be valuable enough to risk the give.


Technology in the Non-Profit Sector

It’s easy to sell tech-based solutions to for-profit organizations who can see a direct line of impact between the employed technology and their shareholder value, market share, and profit margin. However, for non-profit organizations who lack that direct line of sight, the organizational bandwidth required in weighing out the pros and cons of a tech-based solution for their structural pains may not be worth the time and resources spent in negotiating that process. However, the crux of it remains that regardless of the registered status of the organization, eliminating structural inefficiencies remains necessary; especially so when organizations are experiencing inefficiencies via processes that are still painstakingly analogue.

By investing in the right solutions for the organization and adopting effective technology quickly, associations and nonprofits can get ahead of the performance gap between organizations who managed to get with the times and those lagged behind the times. Official process, protocol, and the status quo are no longer an excuse at the rapid pace the industry is currently becoming transformed at.


Bringing Association Employees into the 21st Century

Some good news: according to a recent survey conducted on over 10,000 nonprofits, charities, and NGOs from over 88 countries – the most extensive tech-based survey ever conducted on the nonprofit sector worldwide – the majority of surveyed NGOs revealed plans to move their IT to the cloud within the next five or so years. However, the data also showed a greater need for top-quality product education and support that should come with the solution in order to allow these organizations to take full advantage of the solution, so that the costs involved in the transition and implementation can be offset in the least amount of time possible.

For employees themselves, being trained in a specific form of technology not only adds value to the organization, but also widens their horizons within the industry. It is no longer enough to simply have the standard suite of Microsoft Office capabilities on your resume. The associations and nonprofits of today are in search of candidates with more advanced competencies. More and more job listings from associations and nonprofits are starting to include experience with software programs such as OpenWater as a desired skill for candidates, making it necessary for associations employees to adapt to a transformed workplace.


So who uses Tech for Good?

A recent survey shows that not many do, and even if they are, even lesser appear satisfied by the changes they’ve made. The same study revealed that only 11% of nonprofits surveyed viewed their organizations’ new digital approach as being highly effective, with the rest assumed to have been weighed down more so than lifted up by the solutions that they believed would be taking the work off their hands. Unfortunately, we see plenty of cases like this amongst those who come to OpenWater to seek help in solving their organization’s structural inefficiencies in their AMS.

However, more updated research shows that things are changing quickly. Studies show that the most successful associations and nonprofits are ones that have an executive team that remains at the forefront of implementing the new technology to actively improve operational efficiency and enhance their competitiveness – not just leaving the job to the IT staff. To no surprise, these organizations are ones that boast a wealth of digital expertise at the senior management level. These are organizations where its leaders are deeply engaged in every step of the distribution process of the technology that they’ve just invested in. These are organizations where there is an understanding at the executive level that in order to drive growth in associations and nonprofits is preceded by a pervasive “culture of innovation” within the group.


The Future Lies In the Cloud

Of all the digital solutions out there, information technology that most nonprofits are familiar with seem limited to program and service delivery, such as tools for better websites, e-mail systems, and databases. On the other hand, cloud-based systems and software technologies are harder to find – despite the fact that it would transform the way associations employees work by allowing them to provide services more quickly, reach more users, store information in a more long-term way, and make sure that data is always backed up. Cloud-based software tools would also improve communications with clients and allow employees to access agency information off-site in a secure manner, giving employees more flexibility with regards to where they can take their work. It’s quite preposterous than in today’s day and age, associations employees must revert to their worksite and must be reduced to file-cabinet paperwork and agency-based dinosaur computers.


Invest in your Employees

For your average program administrator, event planner, and program assistant that may need some assistance in mastering software platforms, becoming trained and certified on a program like OpenWater ends up making a huge difference on their productivity and job security.

David Lincoln, a community organizer for certification programs at OpenWater, agrees that the status quo in the associations industry is now changed. “It’s not enough to simply just deliver public goods now.” he says. “It’s about delivering them well. It’s becoming more and more clear that the best organizations are ones that have been ahead of the curve in investing in their employees to optimize their tech-based solutions, and that appears to be the answer – investing in the people at the frontline of the work.”



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