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January 13, 2009 


For those of you who follow the tech scene, we invite you to our Bisnow Breakfast & Schmooze:  "Federal IT Trends in the Obama Era: What's Hot and What's Not." All-star panel of top government contractor CEOs and agency CIOs, Tower Club, breakfast, Thursday, January 22.  Sign up! 


No, Bill Gates won't be your next keynote; our headline refers to Microsoft's latest updates to their .NET Framework, which powers much of the association management software (AMS) on the market.


We sat down with Ray van Hilst, left, and Brad Layman of McLean-based Avectra, the first AMS company to incorporate the updates (oh, and a wonderful Bisnow sponsor—that's why they have such big smiles). They tell us clients are already reporting noticeably faster performance of Avectra's netFORUM team and netFORUM Pro software. Here's the jargon: The upgrades include .NET Framework 3.51, 64-bit SQL 2008 databases, and 2008 SQL Reporting Services. In English, we believe that means the software hasn't changed, it's just on hyper-speed. It still automates e-mail marketing campaigns by running quick queries like, "Who attended last year's annual meeting?" but allows you to compile and e-blast thousands of people in minutes.


Turns out Ray's a beer connoisseur of Beligan descent (see his blog, BeersILike.com); he recommends Belga Caf? for a Chimay and mussels steamed in Hoegaarden. But he compares netFORUM to another beverage: Coffee. For the cost of a daily cup of Starbucks, smaller associations can save on IT staff, hardware, maintenance, and upgrades. Meaning, an "out-of-the-box" monthly subscription to netFORUM starts at $125/month. Other software features: It integrates with your e-commerce and event management, saving you time (30 hours per 100 registrants, according to Hauck & Associates, an association management company). Brad welcomes any association to join the free "Avectra Academy" learning community to share best practices and issues in monthly webinars, trend reports and e-newsletters. (Sign up at: www.Avectra.com/academy.)


Howe & Hutton attorney Michael Deese says beware of a new DC law requiring non-profits with offices in the District to obtain a General Business License; a $2000 penalty awaits offenders. He's concerned some associations may have already missed the deadline. Another problem on his radar: association volunteers claiming IP rights for works they produce. Some ad hoc committees have trouble letting go once they submit a White Paper or Best Practice. His advice: Don't assume your association automatically owns the rights to a document produced by volunteers. Insist they assign copyright first.


The issue that will keep Michael busiest this year may be helping associations confront hotels when trade show attendance dips. If you booked convention sites years in advance, hotels aren't about to let you walk away from "attrition clauses" that guarantee payment even if the space and rooms aren't used. Large associations may have leverage to renegotiate contracts by promising future events, but smaller associations will need help. Saying you stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night won't get you off the hook.


Got an Association story idea? Send it to Curtis@Bisnow.com.

Arent Fox
Cardinal Bank
1909 K

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