We have all heard the rumblings about big data in the association world. This is the first blog post, in a series of five, focused on adding data to your arsenal of decision-making tools. Allowing you and your team to work more efficiently, leveraging the data you’re already collecting.  


Collecting data is something associations have been doing since the days of mailing lists. Today’s technical systems are better than ever at capturing both user and transactional data.  The question is, what are you doing with this asset?  Below is a strategy to start to unlock the answers your data holds.

  1. Question everything and establish a strategy
  2. Take an data inventory
  3. Calculate and discover
  4. Execute on the results

Over the course of this series, we’ll review each step in depth. But the premise is simple – identify what you’re interested in achieving or learning more about.  

     ”I want to learn more about exhibitor retention”

Understand what information you have already, the state or shape that it’s in, and where it’s located.

Once you’ve identified the goals and realized the dataset(s) you’re working with, the next step is to do the analysis. Using a simple tool can yield a big result, so don’t think you have to be a master in SQL or Excel to get it done. 

Lastly, act on what the information is telling you. Did it justify your gut instinct, or was it a complete surprise? Either way, it will lead to additional followup questions and will drive the team to work towards a common goal.

When you know your information, you can begin to engineer your future events and build on current successes. 

– Joe

**image by Scott Liddell