If you have not seen it yet, IBM completed a study in 2015 that shared that over 50% of C-Suite executive's #1 fear was the "uberization" of their industry. What that means is that technology, consumer buying habits, or some other unknown element appears out of no-where to dramatically change their business model. This change could make them uncompetitive or irrelevant.
This same uberization is the fear of many association executives and with good cause. Technology like Uber, Zillow, Amazon, and Pandora have turned their industries upside down in how people go to market, and the relevance of their industry trade group.
Technologies are already in development that will have a rippling impact on their industries and the affiliated associations connected to them.
So what's the answer? I personally believe associations have to be the disrupter. It is critical that associations ban their brightest people and resources together to begin researching and developing what would be their industry changing disrupter.
Think about it for a second. What if the taxi-cab association had developed Uber? What if the realtor association had enhanced realtor.org to include all the features the consumer loves about Zillow? They would both have an incredible value proposition for their members. They would have created their own positive disruption for their members.
Ask yourself the question...."What if you owned the industry changing software or app that transforms how your members do business 5 to 7 years from now?" If the industry had to be a member to access it, you would see growth like you have never seen before.
So why wouldn't you be putting every effort you could into an R&D task force to figure your future Uberization out? It's called MONEY!
R&D, as well as design, takes money. Sometimes big money. This begs another question... "Would you be willing to invest $250,000 into the application that would begin to move you towards 90% market penetration for membership, as well as all the non-dues and meeting revenue that follows?" I would hope so!
So now it's time to do away with "old thinking" that you need 6 months of operational expenses in reserves to take care of downturns in the economy or those rainy days. It's time to engage a strategic thought process of:
What will be your industry's UBER?
How much would it cost?
How do you fund it?
If the above three questions are not on the top of your strategic planning list of "to do's" NOW, you have opened your association up to the risk of not being an industry factor in 5 years.
It's imperative that your leadership elevate this thinking within your entire association.
If you are looking at someone to energize your membership at your next conference, take a look at my ground breaking keynote, "What's Your UBER?" It is an energetic session that opens the eyes of everyone in the room as to, "WHY do we need to move on uberization."
Every association has the leverage and resources to ignite their own future, but it will not come to those who think in the past.