Digital transformation. What does it mean to membership organisations?

By Alan Perestrello, Co- Founder & Director, Trillium


Digital transformation. Nowadays you can hardly scroll through a LinkedIn post without some mention of digital transformation. It’s top of the agenda for many organisations, who are hiring CTOs and digital transformation consultants to make sure they respond.

The topic is one of the most discussed in the membership and not for profit sector and is guaranteed to feature on the programme at most conferences. We are no longer just talking to our clients about CRM and websites, but about digital transformation as a whole. It’s no longer focused on a project but more about a strategic change programme.

I mentioned to a colleague recently that, while we are having more conversations about higher impact projects with more and more organisations, the conversation is different each time. Digital transformation has become a mainstream term without a clear or universal definition. It means different things to different people.

It seems to me that member organisations are spending hours scrutinizing their business plans to incorporate digital transformation, without fully understanding what it is. For them. Or to the point; who is it focused on?


So, what is digital transformation, for you?

According to CIO magazine, it’s “a foundational change in how an organisation delivers its value to its customers.” It’s so much more than making sure you have the latest, shiniest technology. In fact, it’s not about that at all.

We see organisations make this mistake all the time. Thinking that they need to upgrade to the latest version of their CRM platform, design a new website, or implement new technology because their competitors are using it. Or the database is out of warranty or support. While technology is an important part of the delivery, it should work for the strategy.  It should be about what value you want to deliver to your members and how your technology enables you to deliver it.


Is digital part of your membership retention strategy?

In their personal lives your members enjoy seamless digital experiences – streaming TV series on their commute, using an app to find their car keys or shopping for groceries at the click of a button. They expect and deserve the same experiences in their professional life too. If you can’t deliver that, you risk losing them.

Whether you’re in the middle of your transformation journey or just starting out, here are some tips on how to make sure you don’t get seduced by technology you don’t need.


Tips to help your digital transformation journey

Define your goals – then keep reminding yourself of them

Set short, medium, and long-term goals for your digital transformation. For example:

  • Short-term goal: Move from systems of record to a system of intelligence, so we can improve our understanding of our members and engage with them better
  • Mid-term goal: Develop a member portal for existing members so they can interact with us and each other and access the resources they need to do their job
  • Long-term goal: Automate member renewal communications and the entire renewal process.

When you’re in the middle of meetings with potential technology partners, getting stakeholder buy-in and planning your project, it’s easier than you think to lose sight of your goals. Remember what you set out to achieve and stand firm on your budget. Don’t be persuaded to buy more powerful/more expensive technology that won’t help you to meet your objectives.

Choose the right partner

I can’t stress this enough. Digital transformation projects have failed when organisations have chosen the wrong partner. You need to work with a partner that understands and shares your values, can prove they have the knowledge of your sector and you have a relationship based on mutual trust and respect. A good technology partner will help you through each stage of your digital transformation journey. They won’t try to sell you technology you don’t need, and they’ll be there to help you improve your processes, train your staff and embed new technology in your organisation.

For more advice on how to ensure your digital transformation runs smoothly, download our guide.


We deliver digital transformation for membership organisations. By bringing together strategy, digital and CRM, we transform the entire user experience, improving your membership acquisition, engagement and retention. Member experience matters. Our services range from insight and planning to creative design and information architecture. This enables us to optimise technology and build intuitive, valuable, integrated CRM and website solutions for: membership management, member insights and reporting, education, training and CPD, membership finance, Direct Debit, member engagement scoring, events and conferences, venue management, marketing and communications and personalised member portals. #ExperienceMatters



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