Is the end near for large professional organizations?

Submitted by Bryan Ruby on Sat, 10/04/2014 - 11:56

Is the end near for large professional organizations?

Last month, the Board of Directors for the Content Management Professionals announced the ending of CM Pros. The decision to close down the organization was evidently made by the Board in Summer 2014.

A couple years ago I joined CM Pros, paid for membership, never got billed, and never heard back from the organization. Knowing that some good people were involved in the organization told me that they were facing an uphill battle. The battle for an organization to have identity and play a role in the industry they wish to advocate.

The creation of CM Pros dated to the early 2000s. The organization was originally designed to unite professionals in all facets of the content management world.

In the years since, that world fractured and subdivided considerably, and other organizations emerged to serve the needs of the resulting sub-audiences. In particular, the emergence of the "content strategy" segment of the industry subsumed a large portion of the audience that CM Pros was originally intended to represent.

Given that the audience had become broad and fractured, the concept of a "content management professional" became too vague to effectively support. Thus, the Board determined that the organization had run its course and come to a natural end.

The LinkedIn group is still available, though it no longer represents any formal organization. It is unmoderated and open for unrestricted membership.

Although the CMS Pros didn't play a significant part in my content management endeavors, I'm nevertheless a little saddened by their departure. I understand the difficulties of advocating the technical side of content management when the more glitzy marketing side of the house is talking content strategy. But this isn't the cause of my sadness, it's my nostalgia for the days professional organizations had real value to people like you and me.

The closing of CM Pros is another example that times have changed for all professional organizations. Over the years, I have dropped most of my memberships in national and worldwide organizations that promote my interests in technology, content management, and atmospheric science. For me, the benefits of these organizations are access to information and professional networking. The Internet and social media provide me these same services.

Today, I have little interest in joining large professional organizations. In this age of 24/7 communication, meeting someone online halfway across the world is a normal routine of my day. It's the less frequent face-to-face meetups with highly valued local and regional​ professionals that now inspires me. It is the local casual meetup that challenges me to better myself. It is the guest speaker from the design company down the road that has me pondering my thoughts for days and I find myself grateful that this is happening in my community. Very rarely have large professional organizations provided me something similar of equal or greater value.

Some of these larger organizations do provided certifications and do a good job in helping to raise the bar in the industry they promote. These are all good things. But even there as a mid-aged professional I'm no longer judged by education nor certification but experience and achievement. I no longer need letters of certification when I have my own story to tell. So perhaps it's not just the times that have changed for professional organizations but also members like me that have changed too. I suspect CM Pro's Board recognized this too when they decided to close its doors.