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News & Press: Executive Director's Blogs

Digital Strategies In the New Virtual Era

Wednesday, September 16, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Stephanie Flores
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Where are we Heading in this New Virtual Era?

For the last several years, CASSS has worked on a variety of technology and other upgrades to our internal systems. In 2020-21, we are embarking on some major changes to how we do business, first and foremost, with our conferences moving into the virtual space since April. The Digital Strategies Committee, chaired by Brian Nunnally, with Michael Brenowitz, Mark Schenerman, and Hansjörg Toll, along with CASSS Senior Operations Manager, Anne Ornelas, are helping us move forward on two major technologies initiatives to help serve our members better and more efficiently: a new CASSS website and a new member database

Both of these systems directly impact your ability to interact with CASSS, so we first needed to hear from you, our members – what are your pain points? What do you wish we did better?  With that in mind our work with Ellipsis Partners, an association technology consulting firm, helped us prepare and disseminate a member survey in June – to test what we felt to be true and confirm your priorities. 

We are pleased to share a summary of the results from your feedback. One key finding from the survey was about the future of online community. Although members indicated their three top priorities for such a community, 61% of respondents said they never participate in online forums or only participate a few times a year. This prompts us to ask, “if we build it, will they come?”  A second important finding confirms what we know: our website has a terrible search feature! We are looking for a new platform that has robust search capacity. 

Below is a brief summary of the survey results.  If you have any comments, questions or observations about it, I invite you to comment below. Also, if you wish to volunteer to support these initiatives as a User Experience tester, please contact Anne Ornelas 


The majority of survey respondents work for biopharmaceutical or pharmaceutical companies (62%), while smaller subsets identified as consultants (13%), scientific instrument company employees (9%), government employees (6.5%), other (5.6%) and university employees (4%).

Of those who work for a pharmaceutical or biopharmaceutical company, 38% reported their employer has more than 5000 employees, 11% have 501-5000 employees, 15% have 50-500 employees and 5% have less than 50 employees. 31% said this didn’t apply to their employer.
Membership length is evenly dispersed, with 33.3% of those surveyed part of the CASSS community for 1-5 years; 23% for 6-10 years; 19% for 11-15 years; and 19.5% for 16+ years. Just 6% have been CASSS members for less than one year.

Engagement, Satisfaction, and Value

Membership engagement: 42% of members characterize themselves as somewhat active (attending a CASSS event annually); 26% describe themselves as active (attending a CASSS event annually, submitting abstracts, and keeping up with CASSS activities); 24% say they are very active (attending multiple CASS events annually and serving in a volunteer role) and 7% describe themselves as “not active.”
Members place a high value on CASSS resources. When asked to rank these five resources, members placed them in this order of use:
  1. Speaker Presentation Archives
  2. Online Conference Programs
  3. CASSS Community News
  4. CMC Strategy Forum: History and Summary Papers
  5. Roundtable Notes Archive

Technology Use
CASSS member vary widely in their use of web-based tools, with 48% using social sharing channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram daily or weekly, while 35% never use the channels.

Nearly half utilize YouTube and Vimeo regularly, while approximately 40% rarely visit the platforms.
Of those surveyed, 87% use video or web conferencing daily or weekly, indicating a high level of comfort.
43% of members tell us they use mobile apps for professional use several times a year, and 34% utilize apps daily or weekly.

Online Community
When asked about a future “secure, members-only online community to facilitate global access and collaboration,” survey respondents told us their top three priorities for such a community would be: 
  1. Ability to join groups based on my areas of interest
  2. Ability to participate in a group specifically related to a CASSS meeting you attended
  3. Discussion threads where I can ask and answer questions
Perhaps most enlightening, Q.3 responses told us that online forums and/or communities for professional use are not popular with CASSS members at this time. 61% of respondents said they either never participate in online forums or communities or only participate a few times per year. 23% of members engage in online forums monthly and 16% participate daily or weekly.

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