Data and technology are a means to an end, not the end itself

I love data and I love technology. So when there’s an opportunity to use new technology, or an opportunity to collect and use more data, I’m all for it.

But.

It’s important to keep in mind that data and technology are a means to an end, not the end itself. And that’s particularly important when you’re making decisions about collecting data, selecting technology, and using technology.

For example, I love to automate processes wherever possible (e.g., letting the system collect exhibitor orders from customers directly online and processing it automatically through the database). But sometimes automating the process will actually take more time and cost more money than processing the data manually. In this case, the “end” is processing the exhibit order. And if it can be done more quickly, more accurately, and more cost-effectively in a manual manner, then that’s the right decision.

The same rule applies to collecting data. Don’t just collect data because you can. Understand what your “end” is before you collect any more data.

Keep the end in mind and you’ll always make the right decision when it comes to collecting data and using technology.

About Wes Trochlil

For a quarter century, Wes has worked in and with dozens of associations and membership organizations throughout the US, ranging in size from zero staff (all-volunteer) to over 700. In that time Wes has provided a range of consulting services, from general consulting on data management issues to full-scale, association-wide selection and implementation of association management systems.

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