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Public Affairs and AI: Fix your Basic Digital issues first, before jumping on Chat GPT (part 2)

AI. AI. AI... Do you also have AI fatigue?

If you’re not using AI, you’re falling behind” is a statement you might have read frequently in the past few months. It can be a disheartening statement because, as a PA or Comms professional, you don’t want to lag behind the trends. But the amount of daily AI news cycle can just feel overwhelming.


How to prevent AI fatigue?

1. Understand the basics of AI - "How to Use AI in Public Affairs: opportunities & limitations". 2. Re-focus on the core of Digital transformation journeys & marketing automation 3. Fix your basic digital issues, before playing on Chat GPT or doing other Shadow AI stuff.


While AI has the potential to automate some routine tasks, it is not yet advanced enough to create significant productivity wins or business value. AI tools cannot replace yet creativity, strategic thinking, and human interaction, key to be successful in Public Affairs.


At the same time, most International/EU associations and PA teams are just getting started with laying the foundation to make those AI tools useful.


And that foundation is about having a strong data strategy, digital ecosystem, and smart automation in place. It is fundamental to have the basic digital challenges fixed first to make your work culture, your member experience, your organisation Digital-first.


Too many associations still have difficulties seeing the huge gaps present in their operations, membership management, communications, marketing, policy, and financial management.

That is why, Digital Transformation is the next huge opportunity to deliver even more value to members, work better, and create more impact. But, what exactly is it?


Digital transformation is the successful adoption of cloud-based business systems, CRM, software, and learning systems for your entire organisation.


Digital ecosystem optimization and Marketing Technologies consolidation must be a Business priority to unleash growth and substantial productivity wins.

It is important to first understand how your organisation operates strategically:


  • What works well?

  • What needs improvement?

  • How can you better serve your customers/members?



How to create real digital Productivity wins, Member's Delight, and Growth?



1. Audit and re-organize your Tech & Marketing stack.


Tech stack is the full scope of all the different software and tools you use as a marketer.


Your teams are using more and more apps and digital tools. Too often, there is an addition of tools and processes, leading to a patchwork cobbled IT ecosystem, no data sync, a loss of productivity, and data silos.


The reality is that many CRMs, software, and marketing tools are substandard or too complicated to use for your association. Many of them are meant for Big Corp/Sales teams, they are expensive, or with hidden costs (extra consultants, trainings, developers to customize tools).


When we talk to our network in Public Affairs, one of their biggest challenges is getting data to flow efficiently across their systems.

The way forward


  • Self-reflect inside your team, across departments. While evaluating your Tech stack, ask yourself these questions:


  • Are you on the cloud?

  • What tasks are manual, repetitive, time-consuming and low value?

  • What can be automated (think large)?

  • Is your data consistent, accurate, complete, centralized?

  • Are the current CRM, database, and marketing tools really best-in-class?

  • Are your tools an overkill for membership-based organisations?

  • Do they talk perfectly to each other? How do they integrate?

  • Do they sync 2 -ways or just 1-way?

  • Are the data flowing perfectly into your CRM?

  • Do all your software integrate or are you having issues to use the tools together and falling back on manual work?

  • Where are the data hosted? In the EU or not?

  • ...


  • Be open-minded and discover the power of automation for all your operations in your association. It is the quality of integrations and the depth of automations that matters to lower operational costs, reduce significantly your data errors, and improve productivity.


  • Ask reputed Tech experts specialized in the digital transformation of Public Affairs & Membership-based organisations.



2. Make sure you have high-quality, clean, & fully centralized data.


When is the last time you trusted 100% your own data (members, stakeholders, policy-makers, market...)?

You simply cannot, if you use clunky systems and many software without perfect synchronization. You cannot make valid business decisions if your data is in silos. You cannot have a real 360° view of stakeholders/ members data, operations, and assess objectively the impact of all your activities.


While there is an abundance of data available, the ability to bring those datasets together, to cleanse, normalize, and route the data is crucial to set the foundation of future AI-based opportunities in your organisation.


The way forward



Otherwise, data-driven decisions on key business points just cannot be accurate. Outcomes will not be useful to maximize your performances and optimize staff + end-users journey.

Guesswork.



3. Automatize ALL your workflows, across ALL departments.


Automate, automate, automate.


Lots of tasks, processes, workflows can already be streamlined today, in a matter of days, weeks - not months: Marketing Automation, Membership lifecycle, Digital services, Sales automation, Events management automation, Education & Certifications, Invoicing & Payments automation, Operations automations, Public Affairs streamlining...


All these tasks can be automated in a few days or few weeks maximum (not months) by automation experts.


While many systems claim to have hundreds of integrations, it’s the quality of those integrations and automations that matters — and often only a small percentage of those are true and peak-performing integrations.

Only when you have the right data, easily accessible, with relevant KPI metrics… then can you truly be a data-driven and MEMBER-centric organisation.



The way forward


  • Get smart integrations of software and adequate automation workflows around the CRM: it will allow you to better manage relationships by providing real-time insights into how customers/members use your product or service and how you interact with stakeholders.



4. Take Cybersecurity seriously & host all your Data in the EU.



Cyberattack is too often the consequence of IT illiteracy of staff and wrong technology choices done by Leadership team, lured by marketing fluff.

The way forward


  • Implementing secure environments such as GDPR compliance standards or cybersecurity protocols across your digital infrastructure and tools will help protect sensitive information from being accessed illegally or leaked publicly.


  • Make sure all your data (CRM, website, Member area, marketing tools, .... ) is hosted in the EU (and not transmitted to third countries).




Results of digital transformation of Symantra's clients


For our clients, digital transformation, data revolution, and hyper-automation brought PA organisations and membership-based associations, to the next level:


  • It helped core staff to save 1 day a week, freeing up time for more high-value work.

  • Hyper-automation allows our clients to lower operational costs by 30%.

  • Their data is fully in control and safe, all data are hosted in the EU.

  • Content creation, campaigns and audience segmentation are more efficient as they are optimized with AI-based features.

  • They became really member-centric, while continuously diversifying revenues with new digital services.



If your organisation doesn’t have a digital transformation-driven DNA yet, it’s high time to build it.


At Symantra, we work on business-critical activities:



Symantra is a Brussels-based digital agency specialized in 360° solutions for International Associations and Public affairs. www.symantra.com

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