ADMA to be acquired by the Australian Computer Society

ADMA and its sister associations to become part of the ACS, uniting marketing with digital, technology and analytics

ADMA and the associations sitting under parent company, Australian Alliance for Data Leadership (AADL), have been acquired by the Australian Computer Society (ACS) in a deal reflecting the growing connection between traditional technology and digital, governance, analytics and marketing and the CMO and CIO.

The acquisition will see the Association for Data-driven Marketing and Advertising (ADMA), the Institute for Analytics Professionals (IAPA), Digital + Technology Collective (DTC) and Data Governance Australia (DGA) all come under ACS, the professional association for the ICT industry sector. These AADL associations will relocate to ACS’s offices in Barangaroo, Sydney in October.

Speaking to CMO as the news was announced, ADMA and AADL CEO, Andrea Martens, said the deal will allow AADL’s associations to expand their positions in the wider industry while gaining access to enhanced resources and facilities plus complementary education opportunities. She confirmed the plan is for all sub-association brands to be retained.

“We see this as a big step towards building Australia’s prestige in digital innovation, technology and data business,” she told CMO. “It reflects the importance of ADMA’s role in making that happen.

“Our role is to support marketers to meet today’s needs and digital knowledge, know-how and the challenges they face not just today, but also tomorrow. Getting greater resources plus intelligence to ensure marketers are kept up to date is important. From what I’ve seen and in speaking to marketers, it’s increasingly evident data and technology is so fundamental to all across marketing and wider business and it’s constantly evolving.

“As a group, we’ve done a good job of supporting through insights, events, marketing, analytics and governance. But to get ready for the future, we were missing a key ingredient. That’s where the ACS comes in.”

Martens said her experience as well as conversations with the c-suite had taught her modern business solutions and growth come from all parts of the organisation working together.

“We need marketers to work outside their current silos – they have to leverage all functions to deliver on expected business and customer outcomes,” she said. “With the ACS, we can leverage its business partners and insights to drive collaboration between CIO, chief digital officer and CMO, as we know they have to work hand in hand.”

The deal also recognises the growing importance of data to make businesses and consumers. Anyone working in data is supported by association that understands their needs, Martens continued.

“This gives member organisations a one-stop shop for digital innovation, technology and data-driven business and makes the choice simple as to which group will cover all of that,” she said.  “Data translating into insights, then being converted into activity to realise organisational revenue growth needs requires the complete value chain.”  

A surprise partnership?

For many in the media and marketing industry, ADMA’s choice of ACS as a parent company will come as a surprise. While the fragmented association landscape in the traditional media and marketing spheres has been an ongoing source of frustration, seeing ADMA and its associations combine with a traditional ICT professionals association could be perceived as an interesting choice.

In response, Martens said AADL had looked locally and globally to find the right fit for its members and Australian businesses. “We felt that to make that incremental shift needed for marketers in this industry, we had to look outside the smaller groups,” she said.

“We had conversations but to deliver to our members the vision we have and to capture on that breadth, a complementary partner was key. The ACS is both complementary but also incremental. And it’s a big move – it’s not a small incrementality. But we needed that.”

Martens noted Australia’s 45th placing in recent digital engagement ratings showed how the country was falling behind globally and more needed to be done to drive up skills.

“Twenty-five per cent of Australian employees say they don’t feel they have the skills for the modern economy. That’s not a small marketing problem to fix,” she commented. “It needed a big bold move."

But even as it falls under the ACS wing, Martens said ADMA will continue to collaborate with the likes of the AANA, IAB and Australian Marketing Institute.  

Combined, the AADL associations have 600 brand members and 25,000 individual member participants, while the ACS boasts of 42,000 professional members across the ICT sector. ADMA works to a model of corporate membership, while the ACS is individual based. However, Martens expected some overlap in membership.

“In guiding the custodians of the data and technology systems that feed the data value chain, the ACS is like a turbo-charger for our associations that support the capture, storage, access, analysis, insights and action of data,” Martens said.  

“This turbo-charging reinforces the marketer’s role as the revenue generation machine for business, increases the scale and velocity of analytics, insights and AI-led innovation, and boasts focus on cybersecurity, storage and the ethics of data in business. Through this group of associations, we can strengthen what ACS offers to its members as well. We had strong education through our relationship with DMA in the UK, which is a nice fit for the ACS.”  

Martens stressed it was business as usual for ADMA, IAPA, DTC and DGA, noting the upcoming combined ADMA AC&E Awards and AMY Awards on 24 October, as well as IAPA’s annual Advancing Analytics Conference in October. The associations were united under the AADL umbrella two years ago to reflect the group’s wider professional remit and member approach.  ADMA’s annual Forum event is also slated for March 2020, with Data Day then returning in June.

Martens also remains at the helm of the AADL associations under the new ACS ownership. In total, 17 AADL staff move over as part of the ACS deal, with four redundancies in back-of-house roles across finance, administration and support.

Martens anticipated a reinvigoration of the DTC association under the ACS can also be expected. “It’s an important and relevant association, the question has been where we put our resources and what to focus our energies on. This enables that regeneration,” she said. “It’s a nice conduit between ADMA and the ACS.”

Martens also dismissed concerns ADMA could become lost in the wider mix under the ACS. “This is not a merger – the individual associations will be uplifted through the resources and investment ACS provides,” she said.  

“We have engagement with 28,000 people in this market. We play a really important role in the marketing industry. That’s why this partnership has been formed. The ACS buy into the ADMA vision and this is about investing in it to enable that,” she said. “If anything, it steps up what we do significantly.”

In a statement, ACS president, Yohan Ramasundara, said uniting the associations will enable ACS to move closer to achieving it vision of building a world-class Australian ICT sector. The ACS was established in 1966 by five state-based societies and today boasts of chapters in every Australian state and territory.

While the ACS continues to play an active role in ICT, however, questions have been raised over recent years as to its reach and relevance in the more modern, broader ICT industry construct.

“We want to build capability within businesses and organisations to enhance the effective and innovative adoption of technology – whether that is in the marketing, analytics, digital or governance area,” Ramasundara said.

Martens and Ramasundara both emphasised the growing correlation between technology and data fields.

“A close affiliation between ACS and IAPA also strengthens our ability to support the data engineers, analysts, scientists and data managers that drive greater speed to market on AI-led innovation,” Martens commented.

Ramasundara, meanwhile, noted data and technology-driven solutions are paramount to business and customer success. “The best solutions come about when sectors work together to deliver improved customer outcomes,” he said.

“Together, we will now be able to leverage best practice and insights from each of the associations to drive data-driven industries forward, particularly through a more collaborative CMO-CIO/CDO relationship.”

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