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News & Press: Executive Director's Blogs

Opportunities Arise in an Era of Disruption

Friday, August 21, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Stephanie Flores
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Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste - or Opportunities Arise in an Era of Disruption

Five months ago I began my column with, “Today I’m writing this message from my temporary home office …”  I’m still here and I imagine, so are many of you.  All of our plans went out the window at that point and “pivot” became a four-letter word.  Throughout it all, I’ve been so proud of how the CASSS team has responded. While our commitment to bringing members together to engage in critical discussions hasn’t changed, we are now firmly in a virtual era. 

This type of learning environment has tremendous advantages because it eliminates barriers such as time and cost of travel. It is more convenient and provides access to content experts in a way that was not possible previously.  Learning and social habits have already changed as our entire society has made a quantum shift to virtual. This mass experience has earned virtual a permanent role for the future.  It calls for more robust online options to be successful in the long-term.

Having said all that, people are social animals first and foremost, and we’re all experiencing a deep loss of personal contact.  While some of you have told us that you have no plans to travel in the near term, and may never want to go back to the way it was; others can’t wait for the return of safe face-to-face events.  I believe that the long-promised dawn hybrid events has arrived.  Done well, the blending of in-person and virtual experiences has the possibility to expand overall participation – and that combination is the foundation of long-term opportunities for associations. The "pie" will get bigger if what we offer matches the new era.

CASSS had begun heading in this direction prior to COVID-19 with live-streaming of WCBP and a few virtual offerings over the years.  In 2017 the board committed to develop and implement a digital strategy for the future.  

Throughout the Spring and Fall we have converted our conferences to virtual and are implementing and testing new elements along the way.  Our early conversion allowed us to lock in a reliable partner to support our virtual meetings.  The basic presentations with detailed slides and moderated panel discussions as worked well, but the individual connections and interactions were missing early on.  As we move forward into the Fall, we will be adding video poster presentations, 1-to-1 chat rooms with exhibitors, and virtual networking receptions.  Look for these options at Mass Spec, CE Pharm and Analytical Technologies Europe.

As we look to next year, we’re exploring technologies that will allow both in-person and virtual attendees to engage together.  Beyond conferences and meetings, we will be upgrading our website in the coming year and will provide more resources, in the form of on-demand video and other resources to our community.  

I will close by asking if you’d be willing to share a successful idea or program that you’ve tried in this new era. If so, please send me a note at sflores (at) or leave a comment below. By combining our ideas, we all help support each other.

Stay well – and distanced!

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