Data management: Greatness through data use

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In my last column, I explained how assns that actively and consistently managed their data were more successful than those that did not. Now I’ll discuss how assns can achieve greatness by actively and consistently using the data in their database. Many assns are very good about collecting data about their members and customers. However, collecting that information is less than half the battle. In order to get the most from your AMS, the data collected must be put to use. This means that you consistently collect useful information and that you consistently update and use that data to make good business decisions.

An outstanding example of this comes from the National Assn of College and University Business Officers. For nearly 10 years, NACUBO has been actively and consistently collecting data on its members and customers, including information on each individual’s job responsibilities within their organization.

In 2003, the US Labor Dept. issued new rules that directly impacted NACUBO’s members. In response to these changes, NACUBO quickly produced a web seminar on the issue featuring two expert speakers. The issue was of specific interest to NACUBO members who have human resource job responsibilities. Using the job responsibilities data in their database, NACUBO targeted 2,000 member representatives (out of a universe of nearly 40,000) and had more than 400 institutions register. NACUBO estimated that there were, on average, five viewers per site, so roughly 2,000 NACUBO customers viewed the web seminar. All of this occurred – from conception, to marketing, to presentation of the web seminar – in just under six weeks.

Because NACUBO consistently collected and updated data on their members’ job responsibilities, they were able to quickly and accurately target those who were most likely to be interested in this particular web seminar.

NACUBO, and other great assns, consistently gather and, most importantly, use the data they’ve collected about their members and customers. Consistent use of data will allow your organization to determine which products and services are being used the most (and least), help you determine what areas need more attention, and help you target your marketing most effectively.

Those organizations that are most successful in implementing and using their data management systems are those that have a consistent approach – consistency with their vendor, consistency in their data entry, consistency in data use. Chronic inconsistency destines you to mediocrity. Don’t let your organization settle for mediocre.

This article originally appeared in the September 1, 2006 issue of Association Trends. Reprinted with permission.


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