To Promote Tech Adoption, Foster a Strong Digital Culture

Reimagining your association through a digital lens requires harmony between technology and its users. Here’s how to inspire an impactful cultural shift.

By Erin Lemons, Senior Director of Marketing at Fonteva & Protech

Most execs would agree that keeping up with the latest association management technology is a must—it enables business continuity, helps mitigate risk, and keeps members coming back.

But when it’s time to implement change, opposing opinions and deeply rooted association norms can bring the most well-intentioned efforts to a screeching halt. To avoid such obstacles, focus not only on your technology, but on the people who depend on it.

Swapping your legacy AMS for a solution designed to manage the full scope of your operations? First, evaluate your current software systems to identify areas for improvement. In many cases, modern solutions natively built on leading, enterprise-grade cloud platforms will empower associations to innovate more easily, meeting evolving demands in terms of security, efficiency, and the member experience.

Next, be sure to involve representatives from across your employee base during the software selection process. Doing so will ultimately result in better alignment between your team and desired culture.

As Microsoft UK CEO Clare Barclay puts it, “Creating a culture in which technology blends with human potential is where the magic happens.”

Build a Foundation for Success

But recognizing the power of a solid digital culture and weaving it into the DNA of your organization are two different things, especially when many employees are working from home.

One way to encourage collaboration and formalize your association’s commitment to a future-forward culture is to designate an association platform selection team. Even when done over Slack, this step allows leaders to better understand views and perspectives across the organization—including marketing, accounting, and HR departments.

“Designate a team of influencers and decision makers who can effectively represent your extended user base,” recommends. “Like a football team, your selection committee should include different positions with different skill sets. If your team consists entirely of quarterbacks, your odds of winning are slim to none.”

With a diversified team of stakeholders in place, associations can make more meaningful and informed software choices. As a result of being welcomed to participate in the digital transformation process, platform selection team leaders will also go on to evangelize the potential of new management technologies, encouraging behavioral change within their respective departments.

The Importance of Leadership Buy-In

In a 2021 report on digital culture, the World Economic Forum (WEF) suggested that driving cultural change is so challenging because it requires organizations to influence both “visible” aspects of culture, like behaviors, as well as “invisible” elements such as mindsets and values.

This is where leadership makes a significant impact. In a 2020 Salesforce and Pulse survey of IT executives, 97 percent of respondents said digital transformation must be driven by company leadership to be successful, serving as “the glue of digital transformation.”

Leaders should both model and reward desired behaviors and identify mindsets that may hold employees back from those behaviors. “Take a systems approach,” WEF recommends. “If a team or individual is resistant, target the behaviors of those around them. If they see others being rewarded for changes, then their attitude toward change will improve.”

Illustrating the overlap between personal and organizational values also is paramount. Create a positive outlook by helping association staff recognize the benefits of modern platform technology, which is built on decades of research and design from top cloud providers.

For example, association-specific platform solutions like Protech, built on Microsoft, and Fonteva, powered by Salesforce, automatically update system features and capabilities, reducing disruptions. They also greatly reduce or eliminate manual tasks, increasing productivity at an organizational level and allowing employees to utilize critical thinking skills more fully.

“Without integrated and intuitive tools, your teams will always be stuck in reactive mode,” explain the experts at “They’ll end up spending all their time putting out fires and fixing problems—with little bandwidth left over for strategy, innovation, and leadership.”

In early 2021, Togetherwork acquired Fonteva, a platform solution built on the robust capabilities of Salesforce. Toward the end of 2021, Togetherwork acquired Protech, an association platform solution built on Microsoft Dynamics 365. Through, Fonteva and Protech educate the industry on technology that empowers associations to deliver a modern member experience.

(Handout photo)