How Technology Has Shifted Business Processes in the Advancement Industry
Some people embrace innovation, while others hesitate to see if it will catch on. Think about email. When it first became mainstream in the early 90’s, shared email addresses were common. Two decades later, it’s common for an individual to have multiple email addresses, while shared email addresses are almost unheard of. Email changed the way (and frequency) with which we communicate – even while email standards and protocols were evolving themselves. Fast forward, and new technologies and tools are once again changing how we communicate and engage.
Today, we’re in the next wave of innovation; Cloud-based CRM’s, big data analysis and machine learning have arrived, all of which can fuel constituent engagement. Advancement CRM’s and newer integration technologies can now work with all of your data sources, providing the potential to radically enhance your work life. Imagine this: donor prospecting, email marketing, and online giving all in one place. Add to that environment an overlay of machine learning that can assess your data and provide clear insights into what your next engagement activity should be. Imagine how these developments could accelerate your programs and in turn, allow your online engagement to smoothly feed back into your CRM. Think how much easier your life would be – and how your productivity could be enhanced!
This is the second post in a 3-part series about technology and the way it impacts the advancement industry, specifically businesses processes like communication delivery and data management. We also hope to make clear why advancement needs a seat at the table in university-wide decision-making.
3 Ways Technological Innovations Have Changed Business Processes in the Advancement Industry
1- Communication Delivery
Email, social media and online communities make it easier than ever to communicate with your constituents. However, just because you publish a message doesn’t mean that those individuals will receive it. There’s a lot of competition for your constituents’ attention, you want to send relevant and timely messages based on their interests and behaviors.
Takeaway: Today’s cloud-based platforms have robust segmentation tools that make it easier to engage your constituents with targeted and relevant messages. Reporting and data consumption tools are easier to use and produce real-time results. In short, we are finally arriving at the long-promised convergence of “high-tech” and “high-touch.”
2-Why Data Management Matters
Data are at the heart of all modern-day sales and marketing, but all data are not created equal.
For example, your alma mater knows when you graduated, your major, and what social organizations you were involved with as a student. This knowledge, however, does not necessarily mean they send you relevant and personalized communications about what interests you today.
Today’s machine learning algorithms build a more personalized story based on your CRM data. They can track engagement – much like Netflix or Amazon do – to see what you may be currently interested in. This access to and analysis of data makes it easier for the university to be more thoughtful with their communications.
Takeaway: Good data management lowers the barriers to engagement and builds stronger alumni relations. Gone are the days of “data for data’s sake.” Now, the institution can effectively employ those data to understand what is truly important to each of its constituents.
3- The Importance of Nomenclature
Libraries have the Dewey Decimal System while museums have their own systems for collection management. As the advancement industry embraces a modern platform for data management and CRM, it’s important to actively define terms for a shared understanding among the different stakeholders in the university.
For example, if someone asks for information about parents in order to send out a communication, there are multiple things to consider:
- Does the person want a list of those whose only connection to the institution is as a parent?
- Does the requestor want to include parents who are also alumni?
- Does the requestor want to include parents of former students or only parents of current students?
This is where clear definitions and consistent terminology are important to your operation. The requestor needs to know what to ask for and the person generating the report needs to understand the intended use of the list.
Takeaway: Definitions and governance are key to eliminating confusion by supporting how your users engage with the data. When choosing naming protocols for the entire university, it’s ideal to include an advancement professional at the table who understands how data are used at the decision-making level.
Technology is Changing and So Are We
Technology always brings changes in business processes. At this moment, the advancement industry is embarking on a generational shift. It’s a shift that brings advanced CRM tools, improved pipeline and prospect management, and the consolidation of technologies together.
When the right tools and processes are in place, Advancement staff will find it easier to leverage data to inform how they engage with their constituents in a more meaningful way. In turn, they will be able to make a more compelling case for staying connected to the institution.