The association and membership sector’s foremost digital, best practice event, Digital Excellence 2018 was held on 31st October 2018 at the Park Plaza London Victoria hotel. Primarily the launchpad for the coveted annual Research Summary Report, a survey about the current state of ‘digital’ for not-for-profit and membership organisations, the event welcomed a record 438 membership and association professionals of all levels. With 45 digitally-focussed seminars from over 50 digital and membership experts throughout the day, there was a wealth of useful information for attendees to digest, as well as a busy exhibition area attended by key suppliers in the sector – including NetXtra.

For us, the pick of the sessions came from Ruth Doyle, Group Head of Digital at the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) who talked about their journey through digital transformation. With insightful thoughts on the whole transformational process, one highlight from Ruth was where she questioned why membership organisations tend to see digital transformation as high risk. She then went on to point out that ‘digital first’ organisations push back by saying “What risk?”. A very good point, well made we think.

This session had social media very busy, with one commenting on Twitter “Just listened to superb talk from @digiRuthDoyle on 'Digital transformation - what's getting in the way & what to do about it'. Rare & genuine insight from senior leaders in membership orgs talking frankly about culture & speed of change that orgs can cope with.”

Another session that generated many talking points and a lot of positive buzz from delegates was that from NetXtra’s clients Coeliac UK. Annette Woolman and Maria O’Sullivan gave a fascinating insight into how they as an organisation look to meet the needs of their members through the delivery of engaging digital content and services. This certainly struck a chord with one member delegate who commented on Twitter by saying “Watching @Coeliac_UK presentation at #digitalx2018 as a member it's a bit like a personalised explainer!”. A member of the audience also exclaimed how she couldn't imagine doing life without their App, which was really encouraging feedback. 

Other hot topics that were covered throughout the day included interactive audience-led Digital Hack sessions, online focused best-practise sharing seminars and a number of other high-profile keynote sessions featuring case studies from the British Medical Association, Federation of Small Business and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales.

The Research Summary Report published by Memberwise at the Digital Excellence event every year covers a wealth of hot topics and interesting conclusions about how memberships and not-for-profits use and view the whole digital landscape. This includes a number of digital transformation stories; App development; the Member Value Proposition; using CRM data to drive personalisation; and member engagement and membership growth.

What the report also confirms is that these organisations are taking a more holistic approach to transformational change, with culture change, streamlining processes, pursuing efficiencies and growth strategies also very much on the minds of those responsible for membership, operations, marketing and IT. What’s more, how they can all make a positive contribution to the overall membership value proposition (MVP).