The big news at the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) Management & Technology Conference, held December 7 to 9 at the Baltimore Convention Center, was the announcement of the ASAE/Microsoft Technology Alliance Program. The alliance is designed to position ASAE as the technology leader in the association community and help ASAE members make better use of technology.

"Technology has never been more important in the lives of association executives," said ASAE president and CEO R. William Taylor, CAE, speaking at the general session.

"We're not just talking about technology," added Gary LaBranche, CAE, vice president, education and convention services, ASAE, in a later interview. "This [alliance] will bring associations face to face with technology and get them to experiment and innovate with it."

The project is not an affinity relationship, stressed LaBranche. Even though ASAE uses Microsoft software, it is not endorsing Microsoft, and will not receive revenue resulting from sales of Microsoft products.

As part of the program, Microsoft Corporation will enhance ASAE's Web site so that it will become a "a template for associations wishing to build online communities," said Burton. The upgraded site, at www.asaenet.org, will include features such as an interactive tradeshow floor map, and, through Microsoft NetShow server, on-demand audio and video conferencing of events.

Beginning in January, the Alliance will sponsor technology seminars for members. A technology resource center is scheduled to open at ASAE headquarters early in 1998, offering members hands-on access to hardware and software. Other aspects of the program include:

* Discounted training on Microsoft products for ASAE members and association staff

* A free copy of Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 for ASAE members

* A Web-based news-wire service featuring articles on technology that associations can use in their publications.

ASAE M&T '97 attracted 2,200 association executives, 600 exhibitors, and additional walk-ins, for a buyer-to-seller ratio of more than three-and-a-half to one.

M&T '98 will be held December 13 to 15 at the Sheraton Washington (DC) Hotel.