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The Future For Professional Development

November 17, 2010

For centuries, professional development has depended on associations and other membership bodies that delivered a range of physical services. These included regular network meetings and classroom training, with internships or apprenticeships, perhaps supplemented by some forms of distance learning through ‘correspondence courses’.

The latest member satisfaction survey from IACCM provides fascinating insights into how rapidly this is changing (see summary results below). In particular, the findings reflect the dramatic influence of networked technologies. LinkedIn is now viewed as a more effective source of support than traditional professional associations; the demand has swung very rapidly from a desire for physical training to e-learning. 

These trends have doubtless been driven in part by cost-cutting. People simplay can’t get budget to attend external classes and they cannot justify the massive cost differential from on-demand, web-based courses. Similarly, with time under so much pressure, the inclination to attend local member (or ‘chapter’) meetings is eroding. Also, the value of that local networking has declined as many trading relationships today are not local.

This data does much to explain why IACCM’s mix of global membership, high-value networking (without the intrusion of spam and endless advertisements), low cost, web-based research, advisory services and learning products, plus an integrated on-line library, is proving so powerful. It is reflected in membership growth of more than 30% in 2010 year to date and revenue growth of 28%.  The Association’s goal has been to stay ahead of the on-line competition; it has been our beleif that the world for professional associations would shift dramatically and they would be forced increasingly to compete with the business and social networks offered through services like LinkedIn, Plaxo and even Facebook. Thus it is proving – and it suggests our strategy of staying ahead of those networking sites has been correct.  The recent launch of IACCM’s new website has placed even more ‘clear blue water’ between the Association and its competitors.

But it is a tough world and the need for continuous change and service improvement will not diminish. Just as the professionals themselves face constant pressure to raise their skills and value, so wil those who seek to provide them with the services that support those skills.

The summary findings from the recent IACCM survey were:

  • Only 2.3% responded that IACCM is not meeting their needs in an effective way
  • IACCM was rated 30% more effective than its competition. LinkedIn was placed second, with ‘other professional associations’ in third.
  • Most frequently members chose IACCM because of a personal referral
  • The most important and the most valuable events are Ask the expert calls (score 3.8 out of 5)
  • The most important and the most valuable research is the top terms survey (score 4 out of 5), closely followed by benchmarking study (3.9 out of 5) and talent survey (3.7 out of 5)
  • The most important and the most valuable professional development resource is the learning modules (4.2 out of 5)
  • The most important and the most valuable general resource is the library (4 out of 5)
  • No service scored below 2.8 out of 5. Lowest ranked were new members calls and vendor-related services
  • For low ranked services the majority, typically around 70%, have not actually tried the service (in many cases because it is not personally relevant).
  • There is a continuing – and substantial – decline in the perceived value of physical training programs.
  • The areas of greatest demand for additional services are on-line training and mini conferences. This is a switch from previous years, when more local member meetings and more physical training classes topped the list.
  • 95% responded that they would recommend IACCM to a friend
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