This was brought up originally with Mark Stelzner’s blog post on the SHRM Conference and I have mention this about my criticism about SHRM that big organizations need to break down in sectors. Last week made me realize this is coming true.
I was in an ASAE Consultants Meeting last week with Kevin Whorton, who is a Marketing Consultant for associations, and said that the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) conference attendance was down 25% from last year, which was not a big shock. The most stunning stat I heard from the meeting was that the specialty associations like biotechnology professionals, and of their ilk, have increase not only membership, but conference attendance the past year. I wonder why is that?
I did not get a clear answer until I read an article about what else…newspaper columnists. In the article, Greg Wyshynski (aka, Puck Daddy on Yahoo! Sports) argues that the era of a general sports columnists is gone and saying hello to niche reporting because of new media. What does this have to with associations and most organizations? Everything.
It used to be organizations had to rely on getting answers from big organizations like SHRM or the American Management Association (AMA), but since there is a variety of sectors people can select and with new and alternative media, the big organization might be losing its significance. What people want from conferences is to get their answers for themselves and their industry. So far, the big conferences like SHRM and ASAE have not embrace the change yet, in my opinion. This might be a concern as well for the big companies as well such as Booz Allen Hamilton, Deloitte, and others might have to change their ways. So, how do big organizations like ASAE and SHRM embrace these changes?
The first thing organizations need to realize is no one owns everything. The next step is organizations need to split up to industry sectors so people know where they can get their specific answers. Each sector should have its own conference and tailored their events according to their industry. Finally, if the big conferences like SHRM or ASAE want to make revenue, eliminate the conferences and conventions and start having a “Spring Break” for industry or profession organizations and just have a hug out for a week and show at the end of the day, they’re united no matter their subject matter.
In essence, the generalization of organizations are close to a thing of a past, but segmenting to industry-specific organizations will drive the future of organizations. In the end, you get what you want and that is your answer.