Each Labor Day weekend, analysts discuss the impact of gasoline prices and other factors on travel driven by an extra day off and the symbolic end of summer. Some estimates indicate that a greater number of travelers by car saved a collective $1.4 billion this year, much of which was spent elsewhere during trips.
Often association leaders ask me, "Where is the best place for us to begin our data analytics initiative?" I like this question and am reminded of Steven Covey's expression that before we undertake a new initiative, we should "begin with the end in mind". When it comes to data analytics for associations, this means starting with your strategic plan.
Business Intelligence can improve nonprofit and association decision making. Most of us are familiar with the scenario where we extract information from a variety of different systems that each serve their own purpose, but are not integrated. In recent years, there has been a push to integrate systems or to try to put everything into one multi-purpose system, like an AMS (Association Management System) or CRM (Customer Relationship Management). There are certainly benefits to this especially for the front-end users and customer service representatives. However, there are challenges as well. For example, it often will slow down a transactional system to store every email that was ever sent to a member. It may also be cost prohibitive to have a real-time integration between all of your systems.
Top Trends in Business Intelligence for Associations for 2014
The private sector and government organizations have been using Business Intelligence (BI) for over 15 years. The good news for those of us in the association space is that we can learn from their mistakes and avoid them when starting BI programs for our associations. Below is a summary of common mistakes and how they can be avoided.
Steve Jobs said that computers are like a "bicycle for the mind" allowing us to go further faster with less effort. Within the field of business intelligence, I believe data discovery should be the same, amplifying our intelligence and creativity, allowing us to see patterns and insights which we can use to create the future of our organizations.
The Magic Quadrant
In February 2013, Gartner Inc. released an important report entitled Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms which details the current state of the business intelligence (BI) market and evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of several of the top vendors. It’s interesting to note that in this report, Gartner emphasized the emergence of data discovery into the “mainstream business intelligence and analytics architecture”, something we have been highlighting at DSK Solutions for years.
Although the term "Business Intelligence" is so overused that it is almost meaningless, what is important to know is that advances in data science and analytics are affecting everyone - every day. Tableau outlines important trends in this field for 2013. What do these trends mean to your association?
5 Steps to Visualize Association Data
Big Data, business intelligence, analytics…..these terms have been buzz words headlining most association conferences this past year. When DSK presented at the ASAE Tech Conference last December, 80% of respondents to our straw poll noted their #1 question was “How do I get started with BI?” DSK has defined 5 Steps that form a framework for analytics and business intelligence initiatives for associations: