Association debuts collaboration, e-learning hub aimed at C-suite

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By Kimberly Ketover

Challenge: The Document Management Industries Association (DMIA) serves more than 1,600 organizations that market forms, business printing and document management products and services. While the association has provided e-learning courses and conferences for years, it had had trouble targeting upper-level management.

“It’s difficult to reach out to management, to provide them with learning and e-learning because it’s hard to sit them down,” said Lloyd Tucker, DMIA’s senior director of education. “They like to network, and it’s almost as important as what they learn.”

While these executives recognize the value of conferences for keeping up with current trends and networking, many don’t have the time to devote to a multiday conference at which they must sit through sessions that may or may not contain relevant information.

Solution: Hoping to offer more to their membership, DMIA used 4th Generation Systems, a business consulting firm, last month to create a free online learning community for business leaders. The Community of Achievers, or COA, mimics a conference, but on the user’s schedule.

The program uses podcasts, collaboration and archives “to bring those people the same core values 24/7, 365,” said Dirk Beveridge, president-CEO of 4th Generation.

The site offers podcast interviews with business leaders sharing secrets of what has worked for them, a section of instructions on how to implement those suggestions, lists of the tools companies and leaders are using, an exchange ideas on how to use the ideas from the podcasts and finally a section to network with all the senior executives using the site. The site can be accessed from any computer platform at anytime.

While DIMA still uses traditional conferences, Tucker said he thinks COA is an important addition for its membership. “It’s education that they [executives] will absorb,” he said. About 50 DMIA members have used COA to date.

Although podcasts and Webinars aren’t new, Beveridge said DMIA’s implementation of COA is an industry first because it was developed in-house. Nowhere is there an integrated community developed around promoting collaboration, he said. “From the association point of view, they need to provide new, cutting-edge, effective resources for the Web site and drive retention,” Beveridge said.

Results: DMIA introduced COA in April at its spring conference, which draw 160 in-person attendees and 40 to 50 registrants for COA. According to Beveridge’s calculations, about 10 DMIA members register for COA every day.

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