Technology

Digital Transformation: A Must for Associations

By / Apr 12, 2016 ABS-CBM Chief Digital Officer Donald Patrick Lim. (photo by Samantha Whitehorne)

Speaking at ASAE’s Great Ideas in Association Management Conference, Asia-Pacific, the top digital executive at the Philippines’ largest media company shared why the current environment requires associations to embrace the “digital transformation imperative.”

Technology continues to move faster, and at the same time, consumer habits are evolving at an unpredictable pace.

“That’s why organizations must change and evolve and meet consumers where they are and be thinking of what’s next,” said Donald Patrick Lim, chief digital officer of ABS-CBN Corporation, the largest media conglomerate in the Philippines, speaking Tuesday at ASAE’s Great Ideas in Association Management Conference, Asia-Pacific.

How would you respond to a complete disruption by a competitor? What resources and strategy would you be able to implement immediately to fight back?

Addressing attendees at the conference’s Closing General Session in Hong Kong, Lim said that part of “the digital transformation imperative” is getting digital immigrants (those born before 1984 who had to learn to use technology) to understand digital natives (those born in 1984 or later with an innate knowledge of technology).

Doing so requires organizations, which are often led by digital immigrants, to get comfortable with a continuous state of upset and chaos.

“Your five- and 10-year plans are already being interrupted,” he said. “Organizations now need two different types of business plans.”

The first, said Lim, is a “business as usual” plan. “It’s your bread-and-butter model,” he said. “It’s the one where you can look ahead and be comfortable where things are going and know your core market will still exist.”

Meanwhile, an organization’s second business plan is the one where a competitor— currently known or unknown—emerges and disrupts the industry. “Consider what you would do, and build a plan around that. How would you respond to a complete disruption by a competitor? What resources and strategy would you be able to implement immediately to fight back?”

Whether digital immigrants or natives, association leaders must think critically and creatively amid the continuing digital revolution, Lim said.

“You have to embrace this time and make the most of the Web 3.0 era,” he said. “That means embracing this collaborative-economy era where social, mobile, and payment systems are all tied together and you offer members seamless, immersive experiences that go beyond just checking a schedule or reading an article in an app.”

Even though it can be difficult for organizations to achieve digital transformation, Lim said those that do will have a number of characteristics in common. Among those on his list:

  • Organizations will no longer have a separate digital strategy. “Rather, digital will be second nature and be part of every single thing you do.”
  • No employees will have words like “digital,” “online,” or “e-“ in their titles. “Again, digital should be a part of everyone’s job, so there’s no reason to call it out in a position title.”

While Lim acknowledged that not all organizations will fully transform, those that do will “remain relevant and achieve great levels of customer satisfaction,” he said.

Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editorial director of Associations Now. More »

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