I was speaking to an association executive recently about the idea of adding a database manager to their staff (I discuss the concept of a database manager here). As we discussed this, she asked “If we’ve gotten by for the past ten years without a database manager, why do we need this position now?”

There are three reaons:

  1. Customer expectations have changed – Thanks to great companies like Amazon and Zappos, customer expectations for what you can with data (and what the customer can do with their OWN data) has changed dramatically over the past decade. Ten years ago the customer would allow you “up to 8 weeks for address changes to take effect.” That is no longer the case. The customer wants that data changed NOW!
  2. There is more data than ever to manage – I’m continually amazed at the amount of data that even the smallest associations have to manage. As an example, I have one client of three staff that manages data for membership, events registration, exhibits, sponsorships, donations, and a massive online directory of their members. That’s a LOT of data!
  3. Customer expectations have changed (yes, it’s so important, it’s listed twice) – Beyond just doing things quickly as noted in point #1 above, the customer also expects you to be much more accurate with the data, and to know much more about them and thus communicate with them with relevance. No longer will the customer tolerate mass email (or snail mail) that is not personalized and irrelevant. Talk to them too often about irrelevant issues and they’ll tune you out completely.

There are certainly plenty of other reasons why an association that didn’t need a database manager a decade ago may need one now. Times change, customer expectations change. Associations have to keep up or be left behind.