“ONE” is the underlying inspiration that led to what has become CE21 Lighthouse. The idea for Lighthouse was born from the ambitious desire to create one system that would bring together learning management (LMS) and membership management (AMS), as well as live event management and online sales for CE21 customers. Virtual conferences were quickly added to the mix to serve the evolving needs of today’s professional learners, and address the overwhelming demand for virtual events driven by COVID-19.
The marketplace has shown this to be a very difficult goal to achieve. Some companies have found it easier to acquire a business to fill those gaps, whether it’s an AMS provider purchasing an LMS or an LMS provider wanting to get into member management. Regardless, data integration has remained a challenge often placing additional burdens on association staff, potentially leading to a less than ideal member experience.
John Davis, President and CEO for CE21 had a different idea.
“We were committed from the very beginning to eliminate extra logins,” Davis said. “We wanted to give staff one system to master to help them with the important work they do for members; and in turn, we wanted to provide members/users with one login giving them a singular/unique user experience when engaging with their association for continuing education or membership needs. We were committed to the goal of helping associations and nonprofits handle continuing education and member management more efficiently, providing them with the time to create and innovate how they offer CE and other products and services to their members/customers. That was really the motivation as we’ve talked about our vision for what has become Lighthouse.”
To ensure this ambitious endeavor got off to a great start, CE21 enlisted the help of a select group of association professionals to determine not only what needed to be in the new system from day one, but also identify and rank the priority for enhancements as we continued to build out the system. The members of our Advisory Board represented more than 80 associations, including professional, trade and hybrid organizations. This mixture enabled us to cover a lot of ground as we defined the roadmap for Lighthouse.
“The members of that team were instrumental in a lot of critical decisions as we began development,” Davis added. “If we have made any of those decisions incorrectly, we could have potentially gone down rabbit holes here and there that would have slowed our progress and Lighthouse wouldn’t be what it is today. We are so thankful for the work our Advisory Board performed, taking the risk of committing to a brand-new system.”
The first person to sign on to the project was Marc Abla, CAE, Executive Director for the Illinois Chiropractic Society. Abla had a lot to consider for his organization before he agreed to come on board.
“We had run into some challenges with a with a previous (AMS) system that we were utilizing,” Abla remarked, “and we decided to hire a consultant to come and kind of give us some guidance from an outsider’s viewpoint of what we should do. What was interesting was they recommended we look at breaking the system apart and go with the best-in-class concept. We started that process by moving to the CE21 Learning Management System when we outgrew the system we were then using. We migrated our on-demand catalog and in live events – basically the whole nine yards in relation to education to CE21.”
“When it came to moving member management to a new, untested system,” Abla added, “I’m going to be honest by saying I was skeptical. However, the one thing I did know was I trusted CE21. They had always under promised and over delivered on the LMS side of things, and I had no doubt that they were going to do the same thing with their AMS. We had actually budgeted for a different AMS but when the idea of Lighthouse came up, we put the brakes on the process because we wanted to see if what CE21 was planning to build would work for us. “
“It has been a great experience to be able to be involved early on,” Abla said. “It was interesting to be able to put on different hats remembering that we were helping CE21 with the development of a product not just for the needs of the Illinois Chiropractic Society, but also the needs of all of the other groups that would be using the system in the future. Trade associations, professional associations and hybrids all have different needs and so it was interesting to be part of those conversations about product functionality. We have been very happy with the end result.”