March 2018, London. Q&R ran its fifth event for membership organisations, along with our partner for the event James Jeynes, Founder and Chief Executive, MemNet.

Our panel line up was as follows:

• Sharon Pickford, Membership Director, National Trust
• Sally Hardy, Chief Executive, Regional Studies Association
• Jane Royden, Director, E and H Ltd
• Stuart Shepherd, Managing Director, APT Solutions Ltd
• James Jeynes, Chief Executive, MemNet

Annabel Dunstan, Co Founder and Chief Insight Officer, Q&R, chaired the panel and kicked off by sharing the results of the Pulse Check we conducted among over 1000 MemNet members prior to the event before handing over to the panel for their opening remarks. We focussed on the question of digital transformation:

Q. Do your current systems hinder your need for digital transformation?

29% Yes, they are due for overhaul
24% Yes, but they need developing to allow for it
29% No, they are flexible enough to cope
0% No, we have no desire to modernise at the moment
18% None of the above, but here’s what I think…

One respondent commented, “There has been under investment for a number of years and we are using the GDPR challenge as a way of pushing through a system change”.

GDPR was, as to be expected, a major focus for all the attendees as the countdown to 25th May 2018 begins (66 days and counting as at 20th March 2018). Handling member data in the appropriate way has become a topic of fierce debate and quite rightly a major concern.

Stuart Shepherd, APT, asked delegates to reflect on whether their CRM systems were fit for purpose or not.

Another respondent added:

“Our existing CRM is not fit for purpose. It does not have an easy link to any other software, meaning everything in there is in isolation from our other activities. It’s a challenge to use and we do not use some modules as they are so user-unfriendly”.

Sally Hardy focused on looking to the future and suggested we substitute the words ‘progression and evolution’ for ‘change and transformation’.

Sharon Pickford gave a fascinating account of the evolution of the nation’s largest membership organisation, the National Trust. In particular how to stay true to the core purpose that is ‘to look after special places for ever, for everyone’ against the backdrop of competing demands and pressures?

Annabel Dunstan, Co Founder and Chief Insight Officer, Q&R sums up: “With the advances in Artificial Intelligence and the ever more powerful group of GAFAM businesses (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft) there are clearly huge opportunities and threats to Membership Organisations. Adapting to change and in particular technological change has never been more important in order to continue to deliver best services to members and safeguard their data.”

Note: For the full set of results of the Pulse Check and accompanying comments please email with the subject header: Digital transformation March 2018.