As we take a look across the industry at all sorts of organizations who serve the members of their communities, we're noticing certain growing trends. We'd like to share those with you today, as well as stick our necks out to make some predictions about the future based on those trends. Here are the top 7 technology trends you should know about:
1. More Mobile
Mobile technology is nothing new, but increasingly online traffic is coming from mobile devices and the trends are moving upward. Technology that started with basic cell phones has evolved into smart phones and iPads and apps. Make sure the community can access your programs while they're on the go, with a variety of mobile devices, because that is what people are using more and more often. Make sure your programs are mobile accessible!
2. Personalization of Websites
When you’re logged in on certain websites, have you noticed that ads or suggestions will display based on your previous behavior on that site? Websites are getting more dynamic and are presenting online visitors with personalized, custom content based on things you have searched for, clicked on, registered for, liked, etc. When it comes to your organization's website, when a member or customer visits, can you display class or program suggestions on the homepage based on what they have registered for previously? The more customized and dynamic your website is, the better chance you have of connecting with your visitors.
3. Centralized Data and Analytics
Like the mobile trends in #1, centralizing your data is nothing new, but is becoming more and more important. Rather than having program history in one system, locker rentals written in a binder at the front desk, and contact info in a CRM system, all data should be in one comprehensive system. Having every bit of information about your customers easily accessible in one place is no longer a "nice to have" as much as an imperative because your customers are expecting personalized, fast service that can only be achieved with data and analytics at your fingerstips, at all times. Your customers are receiving this type of service in other industries, such as banking, retail shopping, and more, so they will expecting it of you too!
Very soon in the future, you’ll be charting personality traits instead of running reports on registration numbers and gender distribution. Much of our daily lives is now happening online and soon online behavior will be even more trackable and accessible to your organization. The analytics will go way beyond keyword research and evolve into something much more complex and detailed. Very soon, your reporting will be telling you what a customer was thinking and doing before they registered for your program or activity.
Activities are now expected to be full experiences. It’s all about providing a quality experience for your customers, and it's important that those experiences only get better and better. Through technology, the trend is shifting towards activities that intensify the connections we make with each other and promote competition in new ways. Think more along the lines of real-life games when you are creating new activities or programs.For example, Strava is a running and cycling GPS tracker that logs your activity and ranks you against other users online. Here in San Diego, we have a steep hill leading up to our office and employees use Strava to wage a “King of the Hill” battle for best time running and biking up the hill. Can you imagine how this will evolve in the next few years? Think of the variety of ways your customers could connect and compare their results with each other—using your organization as the hub.
6. Customers Own Your Brand, Not You
Between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other online communities, businesses are relinquishing more and more control over what’s being said about them. Your customers are creating a lot of the content that shapes the image and personality of your organziation, and that is only going to become more prevalent. What does that mean for you? Listen more, talk less, and promote open sharing, particularly in your social channels.
7. Technology Simplification
As Steve Jobs said, “Simple can be harder than complex.” The most successful businesses, like Apple and Google, are brilliant at keeping things simple. And this works because simplicity allows people to access what they want quickly. Today that means people get instant results from an online search or a mobile app. But we envision a future that makes life easier and registration simpler for customers. How about one-click registration (like the Amazon checkout process) for a program you offer? Or a charge card that a customer can use specifically for your organization? What do you think the future holds for your organization? Comment below!