Website SSL provides a more secure way to interact with a website. With an SSL site, the URL starts with https instead of http - the "s" stands for "secure". SSL improves security in two ways: authentication and encryption.
It's the need for encryption that has driven the adoption of SSL in recent years. Increasingly, browsers warn users whenever information is about to be entered on a website that is not using SSL. If you want users to trust your website and feel at ease, SSL has become a must-have.
Another huge motivator for encryption is the increased use of mobile computing. The ease and convenience of WIFI means it is also much easier for somebody nearby to listen in on your network traffic. The need for website SSL was made all the greater in October 2017 when it was discovered that WIFI's built-in security standard, WPA2, is highly vulnerable to attack, affording little protection against eavesdropping.
SSL certificates are traditionally issued by a commercial certificate issuer, with prices ranging from tens to hundreds of dollars per year. In 2016, a new system for issuing free automated certs was created by Let's Encrypt, using a protocol called ACME. Commercial SSL certs are typically good for one or two years. Free ACME certs are good for at most 90 days but are renewed automatically.
So if there are expensive SSL certs, and cheaper certs, and very cheap certs, and even free certs, what's the difference?
The good news is that when it comes to encryption, there is no difference. All SSL certificates regardless of cost., support the same enterprise-level 2048-bit data encryption. And as we've seen, encryption is the main issue.
One way SSL certificates can differ is the level of website authentication they provide. The most basic level is domain validation (DV). This means that the domain on the cert matches the domain of the website, so if the browser address bar says https://www.somesite.com then you really are at www.somesite.com. All SSL certs provide this. For the vast majority of websites, this is all you really need.
Commercial SSL certificates can, at additional cost, provide organization validation (OV), and there's an even fancier version of this called extended validation (EV). While DV authenticates the domain, OV and EV also authenticates the legal business name of the organization, providing assurance that the people running the website really are who they claim to be.
With an OV cert, users can inspect the certificate in their browser and see the name of the organization, although most people won't know how to do that. With the even more expensive EV cert, the organization name appears in the browser's address bar in green, making it completely obvious. EV certs are what you normally see with banks and other financial institutions where trust is most important. Twitter currently uses an EV cert, but Facebook and Google don't bother, and just have OV certs. If your domain is widely recognized, then an EV cert doesn't add much.
There are a several other distinguishing features of SSL certificates:
Commercial SSL certificates provide liability protection, covering losses due to a flaw in the certificate. It's like insurance for the cert. For a basic GoDaddy cert, losses up to $100,000 are covered. Free certs do not have this at all, while more expensive certs typically cover higher amounts. It's debatable how useful this is.
Another consideration is reliability. SSL works because each browser - Chrome, Firefox, IE/Edge, Safari, etc - is programmed to trust the various certificate issuers. However if an issuer fails to exercise acceptable levels of security and diligence, they can have this trust revoked at the discretion of the browser makers. This could render invalid some or all of the SSL certificates that they've issued. While such occurences are rare, major websites typically use the more established and reputable issuers, which also tend to be more expensive.
Prestige and reputation can be a factor. Users who are very discriminating and technical may look at the issuer and level of a certificate, and use that to judge the trustworthiness and credibility of a website. A free or bargain-basement cert might be looked down upon.
For organizations wanting SSL on more than one domain, then a multi-domain SAN cert is an option. These support up to five different domains. Prices fluctuate, but if you have three or more domains, then a SAN cert is usually cheaper than three individual basic certs from a commercial issuer.
On May 25, 2018, the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into effect.
The GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) pertains to EU citizens and any organizations that collect or process data on EU citizens. If your membership database includes EU citizens, you will want to understand the GDPR, how it affects you, and what your obligations as a data controller are.
As noted above, they can request that you delete personal profile data, but their purchase history is part of your accounting records, and you can retain that information if you wish.
Millennials are starting out their careers. They are looking for job leads and are focused on their career. Smart associations will target the next generation of members by offering:
Exware will talk about attracting the next generation in its blog over the next few months.
Here are some very specific and immediate tactics that you can implement:
Make sure you understand the age demographics of your current membership. Do you track birth date or age range so you can understand where your at? If your membership is older in age, you need to figure out how you can attract the next generation.
An easy 'win' -- offer a student or under-30 rate; however, make sure you track second year retention rates
ffer a members-only job board that incentivizes this generation to join. Most millennials will change jobs frequently.
Leverage your experienced membership base by offering a mentorship program.
Yes, this may sound daunting so let's start with the basics:
Before you match your mentors/mentees, it's important that you provide guidance. For example, ask the mentees to list potential areas they are hoping to work on during the course of the mentorship. Each mentor/mentee can then discuss their list during the initial meetings. From there, the mentor and mentoree can agree on a set of reasonable mentoring objectives.
Make sure you actively follow-up with the mentor/mentee to find out how it's going. This is invaluable feedback and will help you grow the program as well as use the results and feedback to attract new millennials.
In addition, you may want to track some basic member demographics so you can monitor change. For example, age range of members and age range by membership type. This will allow you to track membership acquisition by age group -- with the goal to increase your 'under 30' stats.
What does this mean for Exware clients?
Ask Exware to how you can start tracking your membership age stats and what programs will fit with your association's goals and objectives.
Understanding the make-up of your membership can be an important tool to help with your planning and program development.
Research shows that while most associations are still dominated by members from Generation X or older (born before 1980), the next wave of members, consisting of Millennials and the even younger Generation Z, are coming up fast. Those born from 1980 onward represent over a fifth of a typical association's membership, and studies have show that associations demonstrating membership growth and high renewal rates are usually those that have a higher percentage of Millennials.
Is your membership mostly in the early stages of their careers, middle, or nearing retirement? Knowing this allows you to see what types of programs may be of most interest -- should you be focused on career building and networking events aimed at your younger members or leadership/management oriented programs?
Understanding your member age brackets also allows you to assess if you're attracting and keeping younger members that will continue with your association as older members retire. If you find that you need to attract and retain younger members, consider programs that will attract them -- mentorship programs, networking events, career building courses/events, member-only job boards, etc.
The best way to plan for the future is to know where you stand now.
What's this mean for Exware clients?
Exware now offers a Member Demographics module that shows membership stats by age. Associations can also set-up stats on three additional membership demographic fields. Ask us about it today.
Machine learning is one of the biggest growth leaders in technology, giving computer systems greater ability to understand and interact with the world and with society. Machine learning has traditionally been used for things like identifying faces or other objects in photographs, automatic translation, transcribing handwriting, and data forecasting. But now it is being applied in an ever-greater range of applications and businesses.
Machine learning is a technology in which a computer system is fed large amounts of data to analyze, as well as the outcomes or goals it is expected to achieve from that data. It builds an internal model of how to process the data, usually random and meaningless at first, and then applies that model to the data repeatedly. It adjusts the model as it goes, and gradually improves its performance over time. Such systems can learn to disregard irrelevant information, and find patterns that more traditional methods can miss. In some cases, the systems can match or even exceed the abilities of a highly-trained human, or deal with volumes of information too great for a person to process.
Benefits of machine learning are increasingly finding their ways into our day-to-day lives. Our phones have better voice recognition and predictive text, services like Netflix, Amazon, and Google are giving us recommendations that better match our wants and needs, while the latest automobiles come with driving assist features to make our roads safer.
In the future, member associations will be able to use tools like these to better understand and meet their member's needs, plan and organize better events, improve marketing and member retention, reduce spam in their inbox, and benefit from better website security.
What’s this mean to Exware clients?
At Exware, our research team is actively investigating machine learning tools to find ways they can improve our AMS system and benefit our clients. Stay tuned for updates.