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Technology as strategy.

If you're like many association leaders, you've overseen the revision of your Web site several times, added upgrade upon upgrade to your association management system, and snapped on some ad hoc technology tools to add benefits and services for members. E-commerce ventures have had varying degrees of success, and your Web team--or your vendor partners--are leaning on you to get with the knowledge management program and to join in chanting the customer relationship management mantra.

Now may be the perfect time to step back and do some re-evaluating of all that's gone before--and some careful deliberating about where you'll go next. Sifting out the realistic from the razzle-dazzle. Learning what's working and what's not.

For Linda N. O'Hara, president of The Association for Work Process Improvement, Boston, the preferred future for TAWPI's technology includes some payback to the association. In an article that follows, "Welcoming and Listening to Your Web Site Visitors," O'Hara says, "We've put a lot of resources into [our] site and feel that we've reached a good level of service. I'd like any additional enhancements to include benefit for the association."

ASAE's Technology Solutions Directory 2002 pulls together a cadre of technology experts who share some degree of confidence that such benefits are already accruing and that if associations play their technology cards right, the best is yet to come. In Margo Vanover Porter's article, "What's Next? What's Nixed?" they debate the merits of knowledge management, distance learning, personalization, and other highflying technology applications--indicating that the winning is in the weaving of these enhancements into an already rich Web site--and the eventual integration of all things front-and back-end. Most agree that customization is where it's at, whether it's applied to meeting a member's particular needs or to making sure that learning programs make an effective leap from the real to the virtual space.

Clearly the fulcrum that leverages all these activities is the association Web site. What used to be an online compilation of everything the association had ever put in print has become, in many cases, a sophisticated extension of the association's strategic plans-delivering the elements of the association's core competencies.

And how do you make sure that your Web site is doing that? ASAE's Technology Section Council has put great thought into the answer to that question. In their article, "Putting Technology to the Test," Loretta M. DeLuca, president, DelCor Technology Solutions, and Randy Richter, director of information systems and Internet strategies, EDUCAUSE, provide a sneak preview of a self-guided Web-evaluation tool developed by ASAE's 2001-2002 Technology Section Council. Along with other members of the council, DeLuca and Richter believe that answering sets of critical questions regarding your association's Web site can lead to clearer goals and improved strategies for getting the site right.

A case in point, the Web site of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Rockville, Maryland, reflects the site's articulated goals. But, you'll read in "Aligned Strategies Support Association's Goals," that it has also become a natural extension of the organization's strategic goals--something David Gammel, ASHA's Web site director, explains did not exactly come naturally. You'll learn what lengths the Web team went to--and the number of questions they asked--to create this parallel universe.

In addition to the insights and caveats contained in the accompanying articles, the core of the directory provides you with comprehensive information for a number of technology companies that serve the association industry. Companies appear alphabetically on a grid that indicates the specific products and services they each provide. Following the grid is detailed contact information for each company. An online version of the directory will be available in mid-June, with hyperlinks to many of the companies listed here. Go to ASAE's home page, www.asaenet.org, click on "find associations, people, business," and select "Technology Solutions Companies" on the pull-down menu.

With sources to tap, trends to consider, and a renewed focus on the big picture, the Technology Solutions Directory 2002 clearly can play a critical role in helping define your technology strategy.
COPYRIGHT 2002 American Society of Association Executives
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Copyright 2002, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:association Web sites
Publication:Association Management
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2002
Words:665
Previous Article:A craft for all seasons. (Keeping Your Edge).
Next Article:What's next? What's nixed? Technology experts talk about the trends that associations should love -- and those they should leave.
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