Anne-Marie Green 
Anne-Marie Green
Communication Manager, Wiley 

Before he headed off to Detroit for ASAE15, we spoke with Barry Pilson of TESOL about the importance of technology planning for societies and associations.


Barry Pilson of TESOL Source: Barry Pilson
Barry Pilson of TESOL
Source: Barry Pilson

Q. Can you tell us about your background and your current position?

A. I’ve been in the associations field for just about 20 years. I have always worked in marketing/communications/membership with a technology focus. I have a Master’s in Public and Environmental Affairs from Indiana University and earned my CAE in 2001. TESOL is a small staff of 20. I oversee marketing and communications efforts as well as membership and I serve as part of the association leadership team. I have been with TESOL almost 5 years.

Q. What are some of the challenges and opportunities TESOL faces?

A. Technology is a constant challenge, mostly from a cost point of view. Things are changing very quickly, and member expectations are high. Keeping member costs down is the other challenge of course. We’re comprised primarily of teachers and almost 30% of the membership is from outside the US. So, new forms of revenue are very important. But so is the continuous goal of high member value.

Q. You are a presenter on "The Role of the C-Suite in Technology Planning and Implementation." with Joanne Pineda at ASAE this week. How involved in technology planning should executive directors of societies and associations be?

A. We have five panelists, three CEOs and two Chief Information Officers from a variety of organization types. Each has a slightly different approach based on the size of their organizations and staff makeup. But in general, a CEO really needs to understand and have an association technology strategy. Some will be a bit more hands on (again association size matters here), others leave a lot to their CIOs.

Q. Do you feel that societies and associations are integrating new technologies quickly enough? Why or why not?

A. Associations have always been a bit behind the corporate world technology wise. Although in areas such as social media, sometimes they lead. Cost and expertise are the biggest hurdles for associations. Quick may not always be good. As more associations include technology in their overall strategic plans and their leadership makeup, the better and less behind we will be.

Q. Where have you seen societies succeed in their technology strategies?

A. I will say that those groups that transitioned early into online publishing probably have been far more stable than others that waited.

Q. If you could give one piece of advice to societies and associations as they embark on technology planning, what would it be?

A. I think you gave away the answer in your question: technology planning. Groups need to include technology in their strategic plans and think about technology with every new initiative. But they shouldn’t adopt technology for technology’s sake. It has to support an overall plan or objective.

Thanks Barry.