Quick Take on Association Technology Adoption

By Association Adviser staff • November 5, 2012

By Association Adviser staff

We caught up last week with Marcus Underwood, Naylor’s vice president of online media, to get his take on the state of association technology adoption.

ASSOCIATION ADVISER: What are associations’ biggest mistakes (or missed opportunities) when it comes to using technology tools and services?

MARCUS UNDERWOOD: Associations often look at only the hard costs related to a technology and overlook the ongoing resources needed to use it effectively.


  • Over the long-run, outsourcing to a specialist can have significant advantages over doing it yourself in-house.
  • Reach out to other associations. They often can give you a good idea of the “real” costs of installing new technology and the pitfalls to avoid.
  • The sweet spot is to be in the first wave behind the “trailblazers.” Chances are they’ve worked through the early-adopter rough spots and smoothed the way for you.


AA: Can you give us an example?

MU: Sure. One of the most common things we run into are associations that have invested (sometimes significantly) in technology and who are underutilizing it because of the staff time needed to use it correctly. To avoid this, associations must think beyond the sales-pitch and talk to other associations that have used the same technology. Peer associations will often give you a better view of the “real” costs of installing something new, and what pitfalls to avoid.

AA: Do you have any guidelines for helping association leaders determine whether to build tech solution in-house vs. outsource it?

MU: In most cases, outsourcing will provide you with a better product over the long haul. This is because the outsourced vendor will dedicate the resources to continuous improvement of the product functionality. In-house solutions can be cheaper, and more customized, but tend to age and become a drain on resources over time. Associations must be careful though to factor in ALL of the costs involved with either solution (see previous question).

AA: Since most associations have limited staffing and budgets, should they really try so hard to stay ahead of the curve?

MU: Actually, I’ve always felt it was best to stay just slightly behind the curve, but ahead of the masses. If you are ahead of the curve, most of your audience will not be there with you, and the costs of technology are higher “ahead of the curve.”

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AA: So where is the ideal place to position oneself?

MU: The sweet spot is to be in the first wave behind the “trailblazers.” They have taken the briars and thickets and cleared the way for you. However, if you are too far behind the curve, you will get left behind. With limited staffing and resources, associations need to be sure that what they invest in is what their members want. This is why it is so important to survey your audience and measure the response to your online initiatives.

AA: If an association only has time/resources for one form of social/mobile media, what should that be?

MU: If you only have time to put effort into one, then Twitter is the way to go for associations. Twitter is great at driving awareness, general communication and promotion. It can also be automatically integrated into your Facebook page, making the content there fresher.

Contact Marcus Underwood today if you have additional questions, comments or concerns about your organization’s technology or communication goals for 2013 and beyond.

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