The World Suddenly Changed, But Should Your AMS?

by Thomas McClintock

need more non dues AMS

Sure the events industry is upside-down, and, once again, associations are scrambling for new ways to monetize that profound — but sometimes ineffable — quality they bring to their industries. (Yep, some things never change.)

It’s tempting to wonder if your good ol’ Association Management System, warts ‘n all, isn’t holding you back a little in the new normal. After all, you never got all the functionality out of it you were promised, so maybe a fresh start is just what you need.

But not getting all the functionality out of something is just a glass-is-half-empty way of saying there’s a lot more there under the hood.

Take, for example, the story of one prominent standards body that tired of their AMS and decided to swap it out for a newer, shinier one. Until after four months of trying (it can be a big project with a lot of hidden surprises) they realized that the replacement system had its own warts.

They would have to spend a lot more time and money to duplicate the functionality of the devil they knew. So they wrote off the sunk cost and invested their remaining budget in making their unique standards content more widely available to their members and beyond, bolstering ecommerce sales in the process. The ecommerce sales ended up paying for the sunk cost, and the organization and their legacy AMS are now on a second honeymoon.

Ecommerce sales are just one of the forms of non-dues revenue associations are gleaning from their AMSs. Other revenue includes:

    • Virtual event fees when the AMS ties directly into GotoWebinar, Social27, BigMarker, Zoom, etc.
    • Certification exam charges after the AMS auto-reminds of upcoming credential expirations
    • E-Learning proceeds generated by an exchange of information between the AMS and the LMS
    • Sponsorships of unique data that’s finally no longer locked away inside your AMS

What AMS does all that?

Most of them now, because they have increasingly robust APIs (Application Programmer Interfaces) which means they can be customized to integrate directly with your other systems, like your accounting software. This unlocks the potential of the data inside each of your systems and enables you to automate delivery.
Owens Gollamandala, Senior Projects Manager at data-integrator Empowered Margins of Colorado Springs, CO explains that these capabilities have actually been developing rapidly in just the last few years.

“Four changes have occurred that now are all building on each other leading to a leap forward across dozens of associations:

  1. Data analytics have matured,
  2. Artificial intelligence anticipates needed data,
  3. Systems are more configurable, and
  4. Data is stored within a Business Intelligence framework.”

Of course, getting magic and mystery out of your AMS through an API takes some practice, and more work needs to be done to continue making these technologies more and more accessible, but we’ve come a long way.

“The API essentially multiplies your feature set, and that opens up worlds of possibilities for non-dues revenue,” says Owens.
And in a world of sudden change, new possibilities for non-dues revenue couldn’t come at a better time.