Jack McGrath: Hi, we’re back with another in our series Ask the Experts. My name is Jack McGrath. And today we’re going to be talking with Tobin Conley. He is the executive consultant, senior consultant actually, for DelCor. Tobin thanks so much for joining us.

Tobin Conley: Thank you Jack.

McGrath: A few questions we had for you: so you work with associations to articulate their needs and match them up with the right solutions. What are the biggest challenges that you see facing associations as they evaluate critical technology and begin the selection process?

Conley: Well Jack, what often happens is you get the effect of silos within the organization and when one group decides to move forward on their own without conferring with their colleagues it’s trouble. It’s like an IT drive-by where somebody comes and says, “Here, I bought this bright, shiny object. Bolt it on for me will you please?” That way there’s no integration and in the end the members’ needs are not served.

McGrath: Gottcha. Yeah, we see that too. I know one of the major concerns that we hear from associations is that their systems have to integrate seamlessly. So, how have web services and APIs helped to bridge the gap between the Association Management Systems and, say, Learning Management Systems, for example?

Conley: Well, how that’s helped is that it’s now less of a question of custom bridges. It used to be like I would have to do this once every time for every program. While it’s not a magic bullet, web services and APIs make it much easier to pre-bake in those connections so that then people can have that rock solid foundation from which they can build and take their learning to the next level.

McGrath: And I would imagine for association members they don’t want to see something that they don’t recognize when they’re moving backward and forward between.

Conley: I’ll tell you what Jack, the most common complaint, and I don’t blame them at all, is SSO- single sign-on. They’re not asking too much. They don’t need to know their mother’s maiden name for every single application they sign on for.

McGrath: Right, great point. So, we’ve seen technology-based education grow tremendously. That’s amongst associations and non-profits in the past decades. What do you feel has been the most exciting technology advances to date and what do you hope to see from service providers in the near future?

Conley: Well, not to bang on this theme too much but it’s that rock solid integration. It’s not necessarily exciting, but it’s exciting- it has exciting outcomes. When somebody can go to their tablet and it works, or any device, and it works anywhere it’s got to have that in-built integration to start with. And so, it’s actually- the manifestation is mobile, but the foundation is integration. That rhymes, I like that!

McGrath: I like it too! So basically, you need to just have access to it anywhere, no matter what device?

Conley: Exactly.

McGrath: Okay.

Conley: Anytime, anywhere learning and/or transactional, all of that stuff. And the more you use those APIs and web services the more easy it becomes for a member to do that, and that’s what we need to move the needle.

McGrath: Right. And I think, too, what we’ve seen is it doesn’t have to be a complicated solution. A simple solution is what people really want.

Conley: Keep it short and simple, absolutely.

McGrath: Alright, Tobin thanks so much for being with us today and thank you. And look for other videos in our series Ask the Experts.