As a long-time ASA member, I have seen the expanded value given to us by our national association year after year.

A long-term vision of success, that’s actually talked about amongst the leadership, has moved our association and members forward toward a successful future. The result has been a steady introduction of new programs and services to support our members’ success.

In 2018, we paused to assess where we were as an organization and thought about the challenges facing our members that were too big for any one member to confront alone. We also thought about what would be needed to help our members win the future. As a result, we once again challenged ourselves to think big and bold about the future and how our members and industry would be disrupted and by who.

As you have read in previous articles, ASA engaged three Issue Strategic Action Teams (ISATs) to think deep about solutions to the three biggest issues facing our industry over the next 10 years. These three ISATs met throughout 2018 and early 2019, and at the 2019 Winter Leadership Meeting in Southern California. The three questions that these teams addressed were:

  1. What would it take to recruit up to 100,000 employees with the needed competencies to help our members win?
  2. What can ASA do to catalyze growth-oriented members to strategically and successfully transform their companies with technology?
  3. What can ASA do to help members not only survive, but thrive by raising their awareness of how they are positioned for the future, and provide the tools and resources that lead them to a viable and relevant future?

At the ASA Executive Committee meeting in July, we approved the recommendations provided by our ISATs and approved moving forward to launch the comprehensive solutions that will enable members to win in the future. The three visionary solutions presented and approved are called D.NEXT, Project TALENT and VITALITY.


The particulars

D.NEXT seeks to provide a comprehensive set of resources to ensure ASA members invest in technologies that deliver solutions their customers will value. Wherever the member is in their technology journey, through this new program, they will find solutions to develop the mindset, clarity and strategies to profitably transform their business.

Central to the D.NEXT platform is the new D.NEXT Innovation Lab that will open at Research Park in partnership with the University of Illinois. For ASA members, this means unprecedented access to technologists, data scientists, engineers and others focused on viable technology solutions for their businesses. At this facility, ASA will collaborate with University of Illinois students and faculty to develop industry-leading digital capabilities that strengthen our members’ position in the supply chain. The D.NEXT Innovation Lab will be a hub of industry, supplier, distributor and technology company alliances that fund prioritized digital innovations that will be available exclusively to ASA members. In addition to the Innovation Lab, The D.NEXT platform of services also will provide ASA members with needed resources to guide them along their technology transformation journey.

Project TALENT was introduced as a significant long-term solution to provide members with the talent capable of driving success. Project TALENT encompasses a threefold effort that includes crafting an industry narrative that resonates with potential hires, helping ASA member companies prepare their organizations to effectively attract, recruit and retain the needed labor force, and orchestrating local and national outreach efforts that drive awareness about long-term career opportunities. Our board approved the first steps to explore launching a national campaign that will have both short-term success as longer image building and outreach efforts are created, tested and deployed.

VITALITY will support ASA members’ ability to act strategically in today’s rapidly changing business environment. Looking critically at their business, culture and strategic direction beyond today is imperative to the future success and competitive ability of ASA members. VITALITY and the suite of tools that will be developed will allow business leaders to address the urgent needs of preparing their businesses for success in today’s dynamic market. VITALITY will support a business leader’s ability to assess the state of their business, set meaningful goals and strategic plans for the future, and enhance their ability to execute that plan to meet their goals by using research-based tools and best-practice platforms for growth, profitability and long-term sustainability. VITALITY is being created for all ASA members including small local businesses, regional players and national enterprises.


Critical to the solution

D.NEXT, Project TALENT and VITALITY are big, bold, long-term solutions to our industry’s three most pressing concerns and will require a financial commitment from our membership and allied partners to sustain these efforts over the long haul.

To meet this commitment, we have begun a major campaign to build a Future Fund that will provide the resources that will be required to solve each of these issues over the next five years.

With your support and the support of other visionary members, we will be successful, and ASA and our membership will be well-positioned to win in the future.