AI & machine learning

Author: Jon Tucker

As you've read in recent membership bespoke newsletters, the impact of Covid on the valued interactions of members and their organisations has meant we all need to be smarter about our relationships. From a lack of gathering face to face to discuss mutual interests, to staying relevant and influential in a fast-changing digital world, new advances in tech can help. Even as vaccines hit 7milllion and lockdown end is in sight, we can look forward and take advantage of developments from other membership organisations to help our colleagues. Human behaviour during the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of what works, what helps and conversely what needs a refresh.

In this thought piece on "best practice - how AI and machine learning can help members", it is important to note that technology still serves the higher business strategy. Yes it can disrupt and to an extent lead the strategic opportunity, but we must be confident that our missions and purposes are intact. Now is the time to refresh your strategy and plans, as that will guide what technology you'll need to do things better, faster, cheaper giving you insight, time and money to survive and thrive as membership organisations. It is still the case that members value belonging, shared knowledge, shared solutions, and collective demands going forward. Evermore so, society needs membership organisations to be there and to evolve to be relevant, impactful and helpful for everyone.

But technology doesn't stand still, and we can't avoid the massive impact it will have. McKinsey's Tera Allas (Nov'20) showed that 50% of today's jobs could be automated. And it isn't just the menial repetitive jobs, as cheap human labour is often still better, but the focus is on professional white collar where new, copious data allows AI & machine learning to do the job better. We define AI as the "what" problem to be solved including creativity, bias and dynamism. Machine learning is the "how”, and is a subset of AI with the ability to automatically learn and improve from experience without being explicitly programmed. This is supported by the latest ONS analysis (Q4 '20) showing that 50-65% of professional/skilled occupations are at risk of AI driven automation. Even this week Forbes reports that a key stream of membership organisations, individualised marketing, can be automated using the powerful, free GPT3 algorithm. Both AI & machine learning are unleashed due to our new ability to crunch lots of data. 

There is a way forward, bringing together these opportunities & threats, building on our memberships' shared trust and world's massive data influx, AI & machine learning improves insight, agility and innovation. Examples include; 

  • Google growing it's paid membership of GoogleOne (subscribed solutions and 1st access to new services) from scratch to over 100millon in 18months
  • online University tailoring relevant courses (freemium), growing subscribers to over 50m, and income in the £100s millions
  • The largest membership organization in the UK, the NUS, in conjunction with several Edtechs, has brought quick, easy, helpful and high value services to in-need students, using real-time, dynamic data to leverage their scale to give each person a bespoke bundle.
  • The National Trust and the TUC have predictive analytics to make sure no one misses out on offers, can capture and prioritise what else members need, and keep these great institutions fresh and ready for the future.

Finally, let's not forget the lessons learnt from not understanding and utilising AI and machine learning correctly, such as the impact on citizens and democracy from the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal. Consent and acceptance of using our data is one of the privileges for membership organisations, we must use the technology wisely and respectfully.

Hopefully, these possibilities have tweaked your interest, and I would be happy to help further, via Daniel and Dennis at membershipbespoke.

Jon Tucker
CxO and Managing Director - Membership, Tech and Public Services